ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
A press conference showing solidarity between environmental organizations was held yesterday at a time when tension between environmentalists and government has been on the rise. The organizations were offering support for a peaceful protest in the northern town of Sinop organized by the Sinop Nuclear-free City and Life Association, or SINYAD, that was shut down by police on Saturday.
The struggles of this local initiative drew the attentions of both national organizations like Ecological Utopias Association, or Ecotopia, and international ones like European Youth for Action, or EYFA, who held a joint press conference in Istanbul yesterday.
During the press conference, Shannon Stephens of EYFA offered solidarity with SINYAD and all other organizations that �request EYFA's assistance.� She told reporters that nuclear energy was �not a green solution, not a carbon safe solution, and it will not make Turkey energy secure,� adding that Turkey should instead invest in alternative energy.
Stephens objected to the prime minister's recent comments about environmentalists, in which he mocked them and claimed to be more environmentally-conscience, telling reporters, �If we seem like we have nothing else to do, it only shows our commitment to the cause and that we are giving up our free time for it.�
Environmental organizations from 25 different countries as well as 45 environmental activists acting alone offered support to the SINYAD by organizing a protest in front of The Turkish Atomic Energy Authority, or TAEK, which resulted in 33 people including 30 foreigners being arrested.
Protesting nuclear energy in Sinop was not new, especially not for SINYAD. �SINYAD was established 1.5 years ago and in the 69 to 70 weeks since then, we have held protests against nuclear energy every week at downtown's Uğur Mumcu plaza,� SINYAD director Kadir Demir told the Turkish Daily News.
Last Saturday the organization had hoped to protest in front of the TAEK building, but increased security forced them to unfurl their banners in front of the governor's mansion instead. Outside of the designated protest zones, the protesters soon caught the attention of the police, who snatched their banners and arrested the protesters.
Police hostility against the group is commonplace, said Demir, adding: �Even when we are in officially designated protest areas, we still feel hostility from the security forces. They surround us; they record us. Their attitude is very negative.�
After this weekends protest, all members were fined YTL 125 for �resisting arrest,� a charge Demir refuted, saying: �The penalty does not match the crime. We are charged with resisting the police; we never even had a chance to resist the police. They arrived and, with no warning at all, tore the banners from our hands and took us away.� The protesters have yet to pay the penalty fee, which their lawyers are appealing.