Security forces tried to disperse some 2,000 protesters marching against three hydroelectric power plant (HES) projects in the Black Sea province of Tokat on March 15.
Mustafa Turapoğlu, Fatih Yılmaz
The villagers, accompanied by associations who had come from Istanbul, began to march toward the construction site of the three HES projects after gathering in the Zile district, chanting slogans and carrying banners demanding a halt to the projects.
Gendarmerie forces built a barricade in front of the construction site in order to prevent protesters from reaching the site. The main road linking the village to the Zile district was also closed to traffic and riot vans were deployed to the area. However, the villagers moved off the road and took to the fields to continue their march.
Gendarmerie forces confronted the villagers in order to prevent them from reaching the construction site, firing tear gas at them.
Colonel Erkan Alacakurt, provincial gendarmerie commander, addressed the protesters to say that he had spoken with the governor about the issue.
“We talked with our governor. He told us that another review would be conducted on the issue” Alacakurt said.
Elected village chiefs (muhtars) later announced that the project had been put on hold after a meeting with company executives.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Tokat deputy Orhan Düzgün, CHP Istanbul deputy Melda Onur, and CHP provincial chairman Dursun Aytaç were also among the protesters.
“It is the people’s natural right to protest against the HES project. Villagers do not want this project and will not allow its construction” said Düzgün.