That heaven out there is also yours

That heaven out there is also yours

Let me highlight this first: There is a colossal difference between capitalism and wild capitalism. For a long time, wild capitalism has been imposed upon us under the name of “development.” 

This is why local people from the north to south, from east to west of the country are crying their hearts out, trying to protect with all their might their water, their mountains, their soil and their forests.

Right at this moment, for instance, the people of Artvin, an eastern Black Sea town, are rebelling against mining activity done under the partnership of Cengiz Holding and Özaltın, which is about to ransack an unrealistically beautiful part of Artvin called Cerattepe. 

Let me remind you of what has happened at Cerattepe: Local people there have been struggling against mining for more than 20 years unceasingly.  

A Canadian company was first given a license in 1992 for mining at Cerattepe.  Upon the protest of the people, when it was recognized that there were serious risks concerning the region’s geology and natural resources, mining was not allowed. 

Ten years later in 2002, the company handed over the license it was not able to use to another Canadian company.  In 2005, a case was opened to revoke this license; the court cancelled the license. Including the appeals process and other procedures, it was 2009 when the annulment of the license was also approved by the Council of State.

However, the enemies of nature are never completely demolished; they only hibernate or switch to sleep mode. 

In 2011, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government announced that 1,343 areas would be licensed through bidding. Cerattepe was among them. As if it was not enough, they also added Genya. 

These two places are mountains encircling the downtown of Artvin. They are so beautiful; they rival and easily beat Swiss mountains. 

In 2012, they annexed Cerattepe and Genya and presented it as if it was a new zone and a licensing tender was held. One won the tender and then handed it over to this company one year later. Cases were opened because they started working without an Environmental Impact Assessment (ÇED) report. Meanwhile, the ÇED report of the firm was accepted by the ministry.

On the other hand, the court stopped the execution of the ÇED authorizing decision on grounds that if this project is carried out, Artvin would cease to be a living space.  

Well, the company was not going to stay empty handed, was it? With all its cunningness and craftiness, with Circular No. 2009/7, which was also issued during the AKP rule, it made a couple of false amendments and obtained an approval again from the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, circumventing the ÇED process.

You would expect that the Directorates of Forest would protect the forest, maintain its existence. Well, exactly the opposite is happening in Cerattepe. People who want to protect their living space go to Cerattepe and obstruct the teams from the regional Directorate of Forest from working. They put barricades on the road with trees the foresters have cut to prevent further destruction. 

Is this the forest guard’s duty to cut trees so that certain people make money or to open space in the forest for them? 

This is a pity, a very sad one…

What else can we say? What else can Artvin’s people say? Shall we regret that we are treated like imbeciles? Or shall we mourn over how justice is being pierced with absurd circulars and omnibus bills? 

Maybe the saddest part is that the heaven called Cerattepe will be wiped off the surface of the earth. 

Believe me, if you visit, the thought of mining there would flip you out a thousand times more than the idea of building a military barracks at Istanbul’s Taksim.

There is a heaven out there; that heaven is also your heaven. Google it. And please bat an eyelash.