Soldiers set fire to forest area in Hakkari

Since Friday, a forest fire has been raging in a village in Hakkari, caused by targeted artillery fire from the Turkish army. The flames are spreading uncontrollably, and fire-fighting efforts are refused by the authorities.

For days, a forest fire has been raging in the village of Kavaklı in the northern Kurdish province of Hakkari, which was triggered by targeted artillery fire from the Turkish army. The flames have already destroyed hectares of vegetation and are now spreading to the village of Yoncalı, a good two kilometres to the south. So far, however, the authorities in the province have refused to send the fire brigade to the area and initiate extinguishing operations. Attempts to extinguish the fire by the villagers are being prevented by the military.

The fire in Kavaklı was started on Friday last week during a military operation in the course of which clashes allegedly took place between Turkish army units and members of the Kurdish guerrilla organisations HPG (People's Defense Forces) and YJA Star (Free Women's Troops). According to local residents, the forest area surrounding Kavaklı was "subjected to massive artillery fire" by soldiers after the fighting - apparently in retaliation.

Ecocide for counterinsurgency

In Kurdistan, forest fires were first used for "counterinsurgency" in 1925. At that time, the aim was to put down the Şêx Saîd rebellion. With the reform legislation and the genocide perpetrated in Dersim in this context, this tactic was continued. In the 1990s, it reached its peak with the destruction of more than 3,000 Kurdish villages. Since the Turkish government unilaterally broke off peace talks with the PKK in 2015, not a summer goes by without the "scorched earth policy". Ankara systematically burns down the forests and cultivated areas in Kurdistan.