Activists denounce destruction of forests in colorful third airport protest

Photo: Activists denounce destruction of forests in colorful third airport protest / Turkey

A group of environmentalists staged a protest June 7 against Istanbul's third airport project, denouncing the destruction of huge forests in the northern parts of the metropolis' European side, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Some wearing costumes of trees, others holding their bikes, dozens of activists marched on Istiklal Avenue as a pompous groundbreaking event of the third airport was held with the attendence of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"Resist forests, resist Istanbul," shouted protesters, which included activists from the Northern Forests Defense (KOS).

"The bulldozers that are advancing in Istanbul's northern forests are shouting 'development, growth, progress.' But we know it from Soma. This airport is a new massacre perpetrated by the capital," Erol Babaoglu said on behalf of the group during a press statement read at Galatasaray Square.

"Istanbul, lend us your ears. Let's shout together that we will not surrender to lies, destruction and massacres. We will be in the streets to defend our insects, animals, forests, children and future," he said.

Riot police stationed at Galatasaray Square went on alarm as the crowd approached, dancing and singing. A second police water cannon (TOMA) from Taksim Square was called in for reinforcement against the crowd of 200 protesters, including elders and the disabled.

Members of main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Melda Onur, Aykut Erdogdu and Sezgin Tanrikulu also participated in the demonstration.

When fully completed in 2018, the 10 billion-euros airport will be able to carry 150 million passengers a year, making it one of the world's busiest airports, at the expense of over two million trees.

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