Originally published on Hurriyet Daily News on the 2nd of July.
A group of locals and environmentalist activists blocked the road to an untouched forested area in the Black Sea province of Artvin to prevent the activities of a mining firm.
Activists and locals guard the mountainous forests of Artvin in separate locations to prevent Forestry Ministry officials from entering the area.
Artvin Forestry Ministry officials, however, aim to enter the area in order to make calculations to complete the procedures for the firm to start its work in the area. Ministry officials attempted to enter the area from a different path, after their previous attempt was stopped by the activists’ road block.
Local activists, who organized themselves via social media in a short time, gathered in the Cerattepe neighborhood, which is located at an altitude of 1,800 meters. They moved trees cut by the forestry officials to the road and blocked traffic, stopping the entry of the officials. They have taken pictures with the tree barricades they have made and shared them via social media. The group called itself “300 Cerattepeli” in reference to the legend of 300 Spartans who stood their ground against the Persians, immortalized in the movie “300.” They are determined at all costs to block any possible construction and mining work in the area.
Green Artvin Association’s head Nur Neşe Karahan said they had to walk the whole way to the forested area, as it was blocked in several locations. “The road was blocked due to a collapse in the tunnel. We had to walk 3 kilometers around it. We came across with the firm’s vehicle, as they are not using the well-known road anymore. They said officials from the firm will come here and we are determined to wait here to talk to them,” said Karahan.
Hakan Akın, a shop keeper in Artvin, said it is a promising development for him to see many people could gather in the area minutes after they heard rumors the firm would start work there.
“The experts said this area is not suitable for mining. We are locals here. We already told them that it is not possible for them to operate here. This place is our green, this is where we live. We have given enough to the dams; we will no longer allow any more construction,” said Akın, among the group.
Hasan Yüksel, a member of Green Arvin Association, said they will continue to hold their posts on multiple roads in the Cerattepe neighborhood to prevent the entry of mining firms.
“They are wrong if they think we will give up. They will come across an Artvin local on every corner of these trees whenever they come here,” said Yüksel.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) provincial branch head Ali Yücel Kurt also held a meeting in the area. He claimed that some people are also burning the vehicles in order to provoke locals by blaming the locals for the arson. “We completely deny such claims,” said Kurt.