Environmental organizations in Dersim against ecocide

In an act of solidarity, representatives of more than 30 environmental organizations in Istanbul have traveled to Dersim to send a signal against the ecocide practiced by the Turkish army in the province.


In an act of solidarity, more than thirty Istanbul environmental organizations have organized a trip to Dersim to send a signal against the ecocide practiced by the Turkish army in the province and to raise public awareness about the systematic environmental destruction in Kurdistan. Representatives of a total of 34 NGOs were received at Seyit Riza Square in the center of Dersim on Wednesday afternoon. Members of local environmental initiatives and political parties came to greet them, and HDP MP Alican Önlü was also present.

"From the Ida Mountains to Dersim, from Ikizdere to Akbelen: Nature knows no borders," "Destruction of nature is political," and "The right to life of future generations is also sacred" were written on posters and banners brought from Istanbul. The background to the trip is the forest and wildfires in various regions of the province ignited by artillery fire from the military in mid-August, which have already engulfed huge areas and in some cases are still raging.

"We traveled to Dersim to express solidarity with the people affected by this scorched earth policy and their struggles against it," said Vahap Işıklı of the Mesopotamia Ecology Movement on behalf of the groups. He said that "plundering of nature" is taking place everywhere in Turkey, with forests being burned down for the profit of the construction industry. Referring to Kurdistan, Işıklı stated, "From Dersim to Cudi to. Bingöl, the Kurdish regions are also burning as we speak. These forest fires are always justified with so-called security reasons. But the same argument is also used to prevent volunteers from fighting the fires. In essence, it is about the invention of a threat scenario in order to enforce state interests.”

The deputy chairman of the Munzur Environmental Association, Ali Yıldız, called the forest fires in Dersim a "crime against humanity" and demanded that ecocide be introduced as a criminal offense. On Thursday, Istanbul NGOs plan to hold a public panel discussion on ecocide in the Ovacık district. All people in the region are invited, they said, and a podium will be set up.

Forest fires as war tactics

In Kurdistan, forest fires were used for the first time in 1925 to fight insurgency. At that time, it was to put down the Şêx Saîd uprising. With the reform legislation and the genocide committed in Dersim in this context, this tactic was continued. Particularly from the 1990s until today, forests are systematically burned down every summer by the state as a means of warfare against the guerrillas, but also to displace the ancestral population.