Protests follow death of cancer patients in polluted area

Protests follow death of cancer patients in polluted area

Protests follow death of cancer patients in polluted area

Locals of Kocaeli's Dilovası district protest industrials in the area after death of two young people due to cancer. AA photo/ISA TURHAN

Locals of the northwestern province of Kocaeli’s Dilovası district staged protests Jan. 28 after two young people died of cancer in the area, which is infamous for its high levels of industrial pollution.

Residents have long complained about the high cancer rates in the zone, but officials have continuously denied that there is any cause for alarm.

But the deaths of 23-year-old Büşra Kaymaz and 13-year-old Ceren Taşören prompted locals to again vent their anger over the health scare, as 1,000 residents marched in protest about pollution. Deputies from opposition parties also joined in the protest, calling for limits to industry in Dilovası.

Kocaeli University Public Health Department head Dr. Onur Hamzaoğlu accused the government of restricting access to health records in the area.

“We know of higher cancer rates in the region, higher than the average in Turkey, and in the world,” Hamzaoğlu told daily Radikal. “The Health Ministry’s cancer unit will not share records with the public. If they just allowed access to those records they’ve been keeping since 2006, there would be less speculation on the matter.”

“We cannot access information on the deaths or on the hospital’s works,” said Hamzaoğlu, who local municipal officials have previously accused of “scaring the public” with his dire warnings about pollution in the area.