Kurdish forest fire.
July fire near Diyarbakir, photo from al-monitor.com.

Turkish Army burning Kurdish forests

With the restart of the war in North-Kurdistan by Turkish state in end of July 2015 the Turkish Army has started to burn down forests. After 2,5 years of negotiations about the start of a peace process between the Turkish government and the Kurdish Freedom Movement, the Turkish side decided to attack the PKK Guerrilla HPG (Peoples Defense Forces) and legal political activists.

In a planned and systematic manner the Turkish Army shoots with munition and bombs which result in forest fires. Particularly in the provinces of Dersim (Tunceli), Sirnex (Şırnak) and Amed (Diyarbakır) the Army has burned down several ecologically highly sensitive forests in its operations against the HPG. Thereby the Turkish Army hopes to limit the mobility of HPG. This method in fighting the long-lasting Kurdish rebellion has been used widely already in the 90’s in North-Kurdistan. Almost every greater forest in the contested regions has been burned down in that years.

The most forest fires have been initiated in areas which have been declared by the Turkish government as “security areas” just after the restart of the war. That is why local people and activists – like from our movement – have been hindered by the Turkish Army to go to the affected areas and try to extinguish the fires. These initiatives have been created while the responsible governmental bodies did not act. We assume that they have been instructed by the government not to intervene. To date several hundred hectares of forests have been burnt down in North-Kurdistan where the main tree type is the oak.

We call on the international political activists, social movements and NGO’s working on ecological issues to join an international delegation. This delegation could investigate the dimension and impacts of the forest fires of the last weeks, the subsequent behavior of Turkish officials, the efforts of locals to extinguish the fires and if existing the ongoing fires and inform the international public based on their observations. We think that the extremely destructive behavior of the Turkish State in this dirty war must be treated also on international level. The period for the international delegation is planned from the 8th to the 12th September 2015. Write us in case of interest.

Ercan Ayboga (e.ayboga [at] gmx.net)
for the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement

Sources about the fires:

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On Sept 19, 2023 ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit in New York City, climate activists gathered for a rally and civil disobedience outside Bank of America Tower in Midtown Manhattan as part of the March to End Fossil Fuels wave of actions resulting in multiple arrests. Activists demand Bank of America to “Defund Climate Chaos and Defend Human Rights” Photo: Erik McGregor (CC BY-NC 2.0 Deed)

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Illustration by Stephanie McMillan. Used with permission