Environmental activist Deniz Gümüşel: Trees in Akbelen and Cudi are siblings

“All forests, trees in Akbelen and Cudi are siblings,” said environmental activist Deniz Gümüşsel, who was detained for preventing the cutting down of trees in the Akbelen Forest and then banned from entering Milas.


News Center- The villagers and environmental activists keep resisting the cutting down of trees by the Limak and IC İçtaş Holding to expand a coal mine in Akbelen Forest, located in the İkizköy village of Muğla’s Milas district.

 On July 24, many gendarmerie teams were deployed to Akbelen forest to break the resistance. Since then, people from many cities have come to the region in order to support the resistance of the villagers and environmental activists. During a protest, the gendarmerie teams attacked many people, including the Green Left Party MPs. Since July 24, many people have also been detained for preventing the cutting down of trees in the forest.

‘We have lost thousands of trees’

Deniz Gümüşsel, an environmental engineer and member of the İkizköy Environmental Committee, is one of the protesters, who was subjected to violence and detained by the gendarmerie teams. She was released from custody by being banned from entering Milas. “On July 24, they came with the support of law enforcement forces and unfortunately, we could not protect the trees. We have lost thousands of trees,” Deniz Gümüşsel told NuJINHA.

 ‘People have been keeping watch in the forest’

After being released from custody, Deniz Gümüşel was detained again. “I was released under judicial control; however, the court has banned me from travelling abroad, entering the Akbelen forest. Six more people have also been banned from travelling abroad and entering the forest. My appeal against the court decision was denied. Therefore, the ban will continue until the investigation is concluded.”

Emphasizing that the aim of the bans is to break their resistance, Deniz Gümüşel said, “They aim to leave the people of İkizköy village alone. People from different cities in Turkey came here to be in solidarity with the villagers. The court decision is a decision to prevent the solidarity with the villagers. But the villagers, environmental activists and many more have been keeping watch in the forest to protect trees.”

 ‘Trees in Akbelen and Cudi are siblings’

Mentioning the recent cutting down of trees and wildfire in Mount Cudi, she said, “The state has carried out policies in this region by burning down villages and forests to intimidate the people since the 80's and 90's.” Speaking about the criticisms about the silence against the wildfire in Cudi, she said:

“I think there are two reasons for this silence. First; although some people are aware that nature is a whole and that no ecosystem is more important than the other, they remain silent due to the climate of fear. For instance, people think protesting the Limak Company in Akbelen is easy; however, most people think protesting it may pose a risk for them when a national security discourse is put forward. Second; I think some people cannot believe that the state can do this. They still think village guards protect the state. Both reasons show that unless there is a common struggle, people can neither get rid of their fears nor get rid of this political manipulation. We say that all forests, trees in Akbelen and Cudi are siblings.”

‘This is the reality of capitalism’

Deniz Gümüşel thinks the plunder of nature in Akbelen, Cudi, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is a reality of capitalism. “People see what living in peace means or how life is affected when you break that peace. The villagers of İkizköy say, ‘We are a part of nature and we are not its owner or superior’. Because they know very well how nature works and what will happen when they lose it.”

‘The struggle for ecology is a very legitimate struggle for life’

“Capital shoots itself in the foot,” Deniz Gümüşsel said, “We will see this very soon. The climate crisis will reach such a level that many manufacturing sectors will come to an end. For instance, they will not be able to use thermal power plants due to extreme heat and drought. We will witness this 10 years later. What capitalism does will also collapse the system it has built. But we cannot wait for this because what will happen will also affect us and all living creatures. For this reason, the struggle for ecology is a very legitimate struggle for life.”

 Recalling the Gezi Park protests, she said, “Gezi became hope for all of us, but then we were subjected to many attacks because we could not have a long-term organization. The AKP government, of course, attacked the Gezi protesters and those who supported the protests. Despite this, we should criticize our own organizations. We should think, collaborate and act together to make such resistance permanent.”