Locals halt commando-supported road construction in northeast Turkey
DHA photosA group of locals in the Black Sea province of Rize have prevented the construction of a road by forming a human chain to stop bulldozers, which were escorted by commandos.
"The Green Road" project was devised by the government to connect the highland pastures of eight provinces by building 2,600 km of roads in northern Turkey.
The fiercest resistance to the project broke out in Rize's Çamlıhemşin district where locals opposed the connection of Yukarı Kavun and Samistal pastures, fearing that the new road would push housing and industry into the untouched nature of the region.
When a group of locals heard that bulldozers started to work near the Samistal pasture on July 10, they quickly organized but failed to reach the area with their vehicles as one of the bulldozers was "broken" in the middle of the road, Doğan News Agency reported.
Some 300 people carried stones and built an alternative road on July 11, before finally reaching to the construction site, which turned out to be protected by commandos. Undaunted by security forces, locals blocked the way of bulldozers and managed to stop the construction, the report added.
Meanwhile, Havva Bekar, one of the most senior members of the group, has become a social media phenomenon. In a video shared by thousands of social media users on July 11, Bekar was heard rebuking security forces at the construction site with a stick in her hand.
"We don't want this road. We are the people. Who is the state? The state is a state thanks to us," she said.
Gendarmerie forces arrived in the evening and forcefully removed the activists from the scene.
Construction projects that transform Turkey's Black Sea region have recently become a source of conflict between the central government and locals who are directly affected by them.
Most recently on July 9, tension rose between gendarmerie forces and locals in Artvin, with local activists trying to prevent untouched forest in the region from being cleared for new mining facilities.