Thousands of fruit trees have been destroyed for the “security of the villagers” by local village guards allegedly acting with orders from the local Gendarme Commander in Sirnak province, Turkey’s southeastern Kurdish region, reported the daily Evrensel on Monday.
The trees were cut within the last month in the Besta region of Uludere district, located near the border with Iraq.
The trees are being cut daily in the early hours of the morning by village guards (state paramilitary force) accompanied by soldiers who stand back and do not participate in the destruction of the trees, according to the report.
Officers from the local gendarme demanded that the villagers cut the trees about a month ago and the village guards started to do the cutting after the villagers refused, said Sadun Sezer, the Democratic Regions’ Party (DBP) Balveren district co-chair.
Elders from various villages located in the region went to the gendarme and had a meeting with officers so that they stop the destruction but the gendarme replied that “the trees must be destroyed for their own security,” explained Sezer.
Thousands of walnut, apple, pear and plum trees have already been destroyed but villagers are planning to mobilise to stop further destruction in the area, according to the report.
Thousands of trees and forested areas have been burned down by security forces in previous years to accomodate military operations and limit the mobility of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters.