Turkey: Environmental activists forced out of vigil site in Akbelen forest

Turkey: Environmental activists forced out of vigil site in Akbelen forest
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Activists, who have been holding a vigil for two months against the destruction of Akbelen forest for a coal mine expansion, have been forced out of their camp site.

Soldiers on Tuesday moved in to evacuate a camp site in western Turkey where environmental activists have been holding a vigil for weeks against the felling of trees for the expansion of a coal mine.

Hakan Tosun, a documentary film maker, posted a video showing troops approaching the camp site, and said:

"Troops have arrived at the vigil site in Akbelen. They have the area encircled and intend to evacuate the camp."

Shortly afterwards, he posted another video that showed troops moving in and forcing activists away.

"The troops are now forcing out activists who try to stand their ground, urgent help needed," he said.

He posted a photo a couple of hours later showing the almost vacant camp site from a distance. He wrote:

"So they must have been waiting for this moment. The troops and the company have placed their container huts after forcing people out. They see everything as phases of a warfare to capture new positions. And they see their own citizens as enemies."

A photo he posted late Tuesday showed activists staging a sit-in before a line of soldiers. Tosun said:

"We will spend the rest of the night before the soldiers' barricade. Resistance for Akbelen continues."

Locals and environmental activists have been putting up a persistent resistance since mid July in Akbelen forest in the western district of Milas, where the forest is faced with total destruction for a coal mine expansion.