Turkish villagers take the fight against coal mine expansion to the UN
As protests against coal mining in Muğla's İkizkoy entered their tenth day, activists have appealed to the United Nations over alleged rights abuses and environmental destruction associated with the mine's expansion.
Villagers and activists have maintained a vigil in the İkizkoy forest to prevent further logging and expansion by YK Energy. Their first lawsuit for a stay of execution was rejected by a local court last week.
Now the resistance committee has filed a complaint with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Environment, accusing Turkey of violating international climate commitments and enabling human rights abuses in pursuit of the coal mine's expansion.
Ecologist Deniz Gumusel said Turkey had recently signed a UN protocol to protect carbon-absorbing forests, even as it moves to destroy parts of İkizkoy's Akbelen Forest for mining.
"We explained how our climate-critical forest areas are being destroyed," Gumusel said of the UN appeal. "We explained that Turkey has not kept its promises under the Paris Agreement."
The complaint alleges dispossession of villagers, violations against environmental defenders, and crimes against the climate. Activists are calling for Ankara to be held accountable.
Gumusel said the struggle ultimately depends on local people protecting their land. The protesters have vowed to stay in the forest and refuse access to construction equipment.
The long-running resistance has sparked solidarity protests across Turkey. Activists see the UN complaint as another way to pressure the government over the mine's impact on the region.