Our local English language newspaper, Land of Lights, is reporting yet another contentious Hydro-electric Scheme (HES Hydro-Elektrik Santral), this time on the river at Yanıklar near Fethiye. Yet again, with little or no consultation with local people, with no (or forged) Environmental Impact Reports (ÇET) licenses have been granted and tree cutting started. The policy seems to be to inflict enough damage on the environment before protests can be organised that the will to resist is squashed.
The tragedy for Turkey is that there is not a single river system in this country that is not under threat – not one! Where there is serious local resistance people have succeeded in stopping these diabolical resource-stealing scams; and make no mistake, that is what they are. Despite what everyone is told it is not about generating electricity, it is all about stealing and commoditising the people’s water.
How can I claim that? When these thieves tried to pull this scam at Yuvarlakçay, the following information was obtained: based on current prices for electricity; assuming that the generating plant ran at full capacity 24/7, 365 days a year and making no allowances for down-time, wages, etc, it would have taken 42 YEARS to break even on construction costs! Do you know of any business that would make that sort of investment? Not one of these mini-schemes is viable unless you take the value of the water into account. At Yuvarlakçay the operating company would have ‘owned’ the water for 48 years with an option on 48 more! Five villages depend on the Yuvarlakçay for their existence. Villagers were told they could expect no more than 1/3 of what they presently use.
J and I were involved in the Yuvarlakçay campaign, near Köyceğiz, from the very beginning. We were not organisers; that was in far more competent and energetic hands. It was also in the ownership (to use a social psycho-babble term) of the villagers of Pinar Köyü and they were critical in stopping the eco-criminals.
In defiance of government, kaymakam, jandarma, forestry management and construction company the villagers occupied the site day and night for more than three cold, wet, winter months and faught off all attempts to evict them. The women, in particular, were like lions – being associated with them and their resistance was a real priviledge.
If there are people near you who are resisting the theft of their birthright, be it water, trees, land, in fact anything – I urge you to get out there and give them support. Being part of these community battles can be uncomfortable; it can also be inspiring and a lot of fun. As evidence of this, I offer the following tribute to the ‘Lions of Pinar Köyü’ as they perform their ‘Şalvar Rap’.
My own uncut, unedited video of the original first performance, followed by some village music and dancing.
Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü