Villagers met with violence while protecting olive trees

Press release - 21 October, 2014
Soma, Turkey, 21 October 2014 – 11 local villagers and Greenpeace Mediterranean activists were today handcuffed, beaten and hospitalized while peacefully protecting a Yirca village olive grove from being unlawfully razed for a proposed Kolin Group coal power planet.

Greenpeace Mediterranean lawyer, Deniz Bayram, said:

"The Ministry of Agriculture has not granted permission to use this land outside of agriculture. Kolin doesn't have a construction plan for this area. According to the urgent privatization law, olive grove lands aren't eligible to be expropriated."

The Turkish Government's Council of Ministers had passed an 'urgent privatization decision' so that the Kolin Group could build their plant on top of the Yırca village's olive groves. Greenpeace Mediterranean had filed a lawsuit to challenge this decision. Legally, the company should not act while this lawsuit is pending.

The assault happened on the 31st day of a peaceful watch that locals and Greenpeace volunteers began on September 18th to protect the olive grove from the Kolin Group's encroachment. Before today, more than 400 trees had been cut down. Including the trees cut today, the total is more than 900.

"Kolin Group is seeking to crack open legislation designed to protect olive groves nationwide thereby terribly impacting the people across Turkey who depend on them for their livelihoods. Kolin's reckless drive to cut down these trees for their coal power plant trumps any fear of legal reprisal, as they would rather pay the fine per tree than wait for a court case," said Bayram.

"We demand that the Governor and the District Governor take all necessary measures to stop the unlawful tree-cutting in the olive groves and prevent the harmful and illegal actions of Kolin Group," Bayram continued. "Until the olive grove court case finishes, the Governor and the District Governor have to provide for the security of the olive trees. We call upon these officials to do their jobs."



Deniz Bayram, Greenpeace Mediterranean Lawyer, , +905301080166

Çağrı Özütürk, Greenpeace Mediterranean Communications Officer, , +905323243204