Road project protesters searched by authorities in northern Turkey

Muhammet Kaçar / Rize, Aug 10 () - Local residents who protested the construction of a 2,600-kilometer road project planned to connect upland areas in eight provinces in the Black Sea region have been comprehensively searched with trained dogs by gendarmerie forces in Rize province while heading to a local festival.

As many as 300 residents of Rize’s Çamlıhemşin district were searched with trained dogs by local gendarmerie forces on Aug. 9 as the group was heading to the Samistal village to attend a yearly event called “Vartevor.” The move came about a month after a large group of environmental activists along with local residents protested the construction of “The Green Road” project planned to connect eight provinces in the Black Sea region by preventing heavy machinery from working.

The gendarmerie forces stopped the group at the entry of Rize’s Amlakit village and searched them thoroughly with well-trained dogs.

“We are sad to see this sort of search of us. What does that mean to search us in our land? We grew up in these upland areas as shepherds” one of the searched residents said.

Gönül Günay, another resident, said they had problems with “The Green Road” project this year and the controversial road project would be an irreversible disaster for future generations.

“We want to leave a breathable place for our grandchildren” Günay said.

The controversial road construction has been sternly protested by locals and environmentalists since early July, when heavy machinery was brought to the uplands to cut down trees in Rize. Sit-in protests were staged to prevent them from working, while gendarmerie forces attacked the groups by forcibly dragging them away after they refused to move from in front of the demolition trucks.

The project has been widely criticized for its negative impact not only on the environmental character of the areas affected but also on the culture and lifestyle of local residents, destroying the unique nature of the upland villages.



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