Court orders evacuation of İztuzu Beach, occupying company set to appeal
MUĞLAA local court has ruled for the evacuation of İztuzu Beach on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast – a safe haven for loggerhead turtles known as caretta carettas – by a local company claiming to hold an exclusive right to operate the beach’s facilities. The ruling came days after a similar demand by the Environment Ministry, while the company has insisted on staying, suggesting it would appeal the decision.
DALÇEV, the local company which claimed entitlement to operate the beach after it won a controversial tender organized by the Muğla Governor’s Office to privatize the beach, forcefully returned to the beach on May 10, despite a court order suspending the deal a year ago.
The court’s ruling was followed by a three-year protocol between the Environment Ministry and Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University signed on May 23, 2015, entrusting the university with operating the beach’s facilities, protecting it from environmental damage and conducting studies on its biological diversity.
Officials from DALÇEV, however, controversially returned to the beach on May 10 and forcefully took over some of the facilities. They later transported two generators and construction equipment to the beach, despite a letter from the ministry addressed to the Muğla Governor’s Office demanding an evacuation of the beach, with help from law enforcement officers, if necessary.
A second decision, this time by a Muğla court on a case opened by DALÇEV to render the protocol between the ministry and Muğla University ineffective, also ruled against the local company, saying the ministry was legally entitled to decide who would operate the facilities of İztuzu Beach, as the beach was under the supervision of the ministry.
“There are no contradictions of law in the case in question,” the court ruled.
DALÇEV, however, has continued to insist the university “occupies” some of the beach facilities, claiming the protocol with the ministry was purely scientific and did not grant a right to operate the beach. The company said they were considering appealing the court’s ruling.
İztuzu Beach Rescue Platforms Spokesperson Berna Babaoğlu Ulutaş warned that DALÇEV officers were committing a crime by not evacuating the beach despite a court ruling.
Another member of the same platform, Meral Metin, underlined the company was currently an “occupant” of the beach, and criticized local state authorities for failing to take the necessary action despite a demand from the ministry to do so.
Metin questioned how the company managed to transport generators and construction equipment to the beach by using a ferry that was only authorized to carry passengers, especially at a sensitive time when the caretta carettas were laying their eggs.
“We expect an explanation from our governor and district governor. Everything is illegal but somehow authorities do not initiate legal action against the company. We are curious why this is the case and we call on our deputies to take action,” Metin added.