Defending the Akbelen Forest in Türkiye

Defending the Akbelen Forest in Türkiye

Residents of İkizköy, a village in Milas District, in the southwestern province of Muğla, have been engaged in a two-year-long struggle to protect the Akbelen Forest and its inhabitants. 

The local communities are leading this resistance against the expansion project of a coal mine providing coal to a nearby thermal power plant in Milas, Muğla.

Three coal-fired thermal power plants in Milas and Yatağan, and the coal mines fuelling them, are destroying Muğla’s agricultural lands and forests, polluting its air and water, while causing premature deaths and diseases.

Although scientists have warned that mining will cause irreversible damage to the region in studies on the subject, public interest is being sacrificed and demands of the local communities are ignored, for the sake of a “dirty energy” management model. 

There are 60 villages within the coal mines operation license area in Milas, eight of which have been completely destroyed, while 15 have been partially destroyed.

The local communities have been losing their living spaces and livelihoods due to coal for years, and they have been subjected to a great usurpation of rights.

In a sudden move on the 24th of July, law enforcement and riot control vehicles arrived at the site and tree-cutting operations commenced. Eight individuals were detained and four were injured during the local communities’ resistance against the operations. The villagers and life defenders who wanted to stop the tree-cutting operations were exposed to the violence of the law enforcement officers and faced a blockade. Attacks with tear gas, pressurized water, and batons are ongoing. 

In another context, in Kaz Dağları, although the permission given to Alamos Gold company to search for gold using cyanide was canceled due to people’s pressures, it caused 350 thousand trees to be slaughtered. We demand that the work be stopped immediately before it is too late so that the same situation does not happen in Akbelen. Defending lands, forests, water, and living creatures, we call against:

  • YK Energy, the owner of the plant and a joint affiliate of Limak Holding and IC Holding, deliberately misleads the public despite the scientific facts and sacrifices the Akbelen Forest for coal. Know that the public interest is above corporate profits. You have to act with this responsibility, hear our voice and protect Akbelen! 
  • While the entire Mediterranean basin is struggling with uncontrollable forest fires, heat waves are becoming more unbearable day by day, and many regions of Turkey are struggling with disasters such as drought and floods caused by extreme weather conditions, sacrificing our natural resources for fossil fuels is a historical and tragic mistake! The real fight against the climate crisis is not by adding “climate change” to the name of the ministry, but by protecting forests and forbidding coal extraction.
  • “The blockade in the Akbelen forest should be lifted, the logging decision should be revoked! The violence and the detentions against those who are exercising their right to protest and trying to protect the forest and their living spaces should be stopped!” the petition demands.

The WMW Türkiye coordination has joined more than 300 organizations in signing a petition, to stand in solidarity with the İkizköy villagers, calling on the authorities to take immediate action against extractivist activities.