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Ecologists protest against deliberate forest fires in Dersim

ECOLOGISTS joined protests in Turkey today, vowing not to bow to government intimidation as deliberately started fires continue to rage through the Kurdish region of Dersim.

They warned that, unless there is airborne intervention to stop the fires from spreading, people will be forced to abandon their homes.

The Turkish army has continued the practice of burning forests in Dersim since the 1980s to empty Kurdish villages in the name of “security.” Local ecological groups say that current military operations are an attempt to “intimidate the people” with authorities refusing to intervene as the fires  spread.

Dersim Associations Federation (DEDEF) spokesman Ali Reza Bilir said: “The burning forests are our lungs. They want to ruin our ecosystem. But they will not succeed. For years, our forests have been burned, yet this policy has given no results.

“And they won’t. We have holy places in the regions and they are trying to destroy them. People of these lands will not bow, no matter what”.

Dersim Ecology Council spokeswoman Meral Uc said: “Enough is enough,” explaining that dozens of hectares of land are reduced to ash every year.

“Without an intervention via air, the fires will soon reach the houses and people will be forced out from their villages. People's living spaces will disappear. People will have to migrate,” she said.

The Turkish government has been accused of hypocrisy for offering support during the recent Greek coastal fire tragedy while refusing to help as fires rage in Kurdish areas. The ecology council accused the government of “genocidal colonialist attacks” against the people of Dersim.

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