Ordered by the local gendarmerie command in Turkey’s Şırnak province, village guards cut down thousands of fruit trees in the province due to security reasons, a daily reported on Monday.
According to Evrensel, thousands of fruit trees were cut down last month in the Balveren, Şenova and Besta districts of Uludere, near the Iraqi border.
The report said the Şırnak Gendarmerie Command ordered village guards to cut the trees down for the “security of the villagers,” and soldiers accompanied them while they felled the trees in the early morning hours.
Speaking to Evrensel about the incident, pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions’ Party (DBP) Balveren district co-chair Sadun Sezer said officers from the local gendarmerie demanded that the villagers cut the trees down about a month ago and that the village guards started the job after the villagers refused to.
Sezer said a group of elderly villagers demanded that the village guards stop the destruction, but a gendarme replied that “the trees must be destroyed for your own security.”
While thousands of walnut, apple, pear and plum trees have already been destroyed, villagers are planning to mobilize to stop further destruction in the area, according to the report.
The report also said thousands of trees and forested areas were burned down by security forces in previous years to accommodate military operations and limit the mobility of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants.