Environmentalist: The Turkish state must stop burning forests

Environmental activist Güner Yanlıç calls on the Turkish government to stop the destruction of forests for "security reasons" and to take measures to put out forest fires.

Environmental activist Güner Yanlıç describes the forest fires as part of the special war in Kurdistan and calls for preventive measures. According to a report by the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs and the General Directorate of Forestry, 119,092 hectares of forest suffered damage from fires in Turkey and northern Kurdistan in 2017. In the past year, the cause of the 411 forest fires was detected in only 280 cases. In the past six years, the number of fires has increased significantly. The majority of these fires are recorded as having been perpetrated by "unknown offenders".

Yanlıç explains that fires in Turkey have often been set for profit maximization purposes and under special war policy in Northern Kurdistan. Since the 90s, forests are constantly being set on fire during military operations. Yanlıç emphasizes: "In previous years, we have demanded that forests be placed under the protection of conscience, justice and the Constitution. The forests are the largest and most important ecosystem in the world and must be protected. We have repeatedly emphasized that the arson of forests does not serve peace. This year we repeat this appeal. For whatever reason the forest fires break out, we will continue our legal struggle to prevent them. We express this resolve every year and remind the authorities that do not fight the fires of their duties."

People are prevented from fire fighting

In Cûdî, Besta and Omerya, armed clashes were used as a pretext for fires, Yanlıç said, noting that people in Omerya and Talatya in particular were prevented from fighting the fires. He urges the government to stop fires under the pretext of security and take preventive action.

The environmental activist concludes: "Whatever may be stated as the cause and goal of the fires, whether military operation, security or battle, nothing justifies these forest fires. We condemn the arsonists and urge all those responsible to take action."