Talk before you attack, as in Artvin

Talk before you attack, as in Artvin

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met with representatives from Artvin, the province where demonstrators protesting a planned copper mine have been clashing with security forces. It was announced after this meeting that construction work to build a mine at Cerattepe had been suspended until legal proceedings are finished. This has been a very positive development; I hope the rest of the issue will unfold as the Artvin people desire. 

This stance of the prime minister that has opened the path to dialogue and has lent an ear to troubles should be congratulated regardless of the outcome.

It is a sign of democratic maturity that instead of being sprayed with tear gas and being neglected before the law and the bureaucracy, the activists of Artvin are now in dialogue with the prime minister. 

It is obvious how the planned mine in Cerattepe, which some are attempting to build with dirty tricks, is about to kill a wonder of nature, an example of beauty that is impossible to replace. 

The people of Artvin and the activists do not want that this land to be seized, especially with all kinds of dirty tricks, for it is a land they use winter and summer, a place in which they hold the Kafkasör festivities and a source of clean water and air that they are both addicted to and in need of. 

The Artvin activists have protested that after winning every legal battle for 25 years, after succeeding in producing numerous decisions that “beauty should never be touched,” a shameless attempt to seize the land with an environmental impact assessment (ÇED) report appeared with the speed of lighting. 

They do not accept the fact that their voices are not heard and that their opposition to this injustice has been distorted as “anarchy-loving;” they do not want to be suppressed and attacked by batons and tear gas and the forest to be trodden by bulldozers. Anyone who exerts a little effort, has the wish to understand a little and lends an ear would easily understand how right they are and how solid their arguments are. 

The ruling party Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) former Artvin provincial leader, Ahmet Özçelik, said: “I was not able to explain it to the top management of the party. Our people do not want a mine at Cerattepe.” 

This is why it is important that the prime minister listens to those who were not listened to by government officials. 

However, Davutoğlu should also know that this business is not only limited to Cerattepe. The nuclear power plant at İğneada will be a massacre of nature. If the massacre continues in Istanbul’s northern forests, the lungs of the city, then it will be a catastrophe. 

The list is so long that if I write it, people will shed rivers.

If you just monitor the daily environmental stories (if you can find any) in the papers, then you can see how serious the situation is. The other day, there was a story about how stone quarries in Istanbul’s Sarıyer destroyed a forest. The same day, there was a story that said the bird sanctuary in Manyas was so polluted that it needed intensive care.

A cedar forest was destroyed on Antalya’s Sarıçınar Mountain to excavate marble, another story said. 
We see, experience and know the disasters triggered by the change created by hydroelectric power plants (HES), especially in the Black Sea region. 

While this is so, the number of HES that are slated for construction will soon reach 1,000. In Artvin alone, more than 100 HES are planned, they say.

Indeed, there should be development, investment, diversity in energy and responsible mining, and they all should be supported. However; don’t – ever – build a nuclear power plant in the İğneada forests, which are unique in the world.

Don’t – ever – plunge so roughly into Artvin’s water, forest, mountain and rocks, the beauty of which deserves to be the apple of the eye of Turkey and the world. 

When you speak, when you engage in dialogue, you will recognize and distinguish the right from the wrong anyway. 

Don’t attack with gas and batons; stop and listen.

When you listen, you will understand.