One person was injured during a fight that broke out on Thursday between villagers and the personnel of a construction company planning to build a thermal power plant over an olive grove, and a group of protesters were locked up by the company in the Soma district of Manisa province, before all the trees in the grove were uprooted.
Locals from the Yırca village had been guarding the nearby grove for more than 16 days to prevent the Kolin Group construction company from uprooting thousands of olive trees there to make room for the planned power plant. However, a fight erupted between company security guards and the villagers after the former tried to remove the protesters from the yard on Thursday evening. Several private security guards working for the Kolin Group locked some locals, who were on vigil, inside a hut. One of the locals was injured in the head during the fight.
Early on Friday, the company’s workers used dozers to fell all the trees in the grove, which locals say was home to about 6,000 olive trees. Kolin Group reportedly sent two buses of private security guards and construction vehicles to the Yırca neighborhood around 8 p.m. in order to fell the trees in the olive grove. The locals and another group that had brought them food confronted the company’s personnel. The locals were not allowed inside a wired-off area, which is considered to be a part of the construction site by the company’s employees, causing the brawl.
VILLAGERS HANDCUFFED AND DRAGGED AWAY
During the incident, four of the locals, Mehmet Öksüz, Kamile Çiftçi, Kerem Özkılınç and Hasan Namak, were handcuffed by the company’s private security guards. The four were dragged to a truck then forced to get on before they were locked up inside a hut 4 kilometers away from the construction site.
Emin Özkılınç, another local, was wounded in the head by a tear gas canister a security guard fired at him. Özkılınç was then taken to Beşyol State Hospital.
A guard booth and a car parked in the area also sustained damages during the brawl. A team of gendarmerie forces was dispatched to the neighborhood since the incident continued until 3 a.m. on Friday.
Early Friday morning, dozers entered the area where the thermal power plant is planned to be built and uprooted all the trees, including century-old ones.
The villagers reproached the gendarmes who arrived at the scene after the uprooting of the trees. The muhtar (local administrator) of Yırca village, Mustafa Akın, said that a total of 6,000 olive trees were uprooted by the company employers.