Struggle of peasants of Ahmetler Village.
On this morning of 12th of March, the Feminist Caravan is on its way to Antalya, but before getting to the city, a stop is planned in the village of Ahmetler. When the buses entered the road leading to Ahmetler, more than one of us changed seats not to be too afraid of the high precipice on the side ! But the nature around is marvellous. Every year, around 5000 tourists come here in the canyion, enjoy the waterfall, etc.
The arrival in Ahmetler is a triumph : a high number of inhabitants are there to host us, women have prepared some vegetable pancakes made on stone oven. We are so happy to eat while women of the village explain us their struggle.
What happened in this small village is the story of an incredible resistance from villagers, with women at the forefront of the struggle to protect their territory. Once a company from Antalya arrived with the intention of building an hydro-electric powerplant. Agreements were made with the authority but the villagers didn’t even know about it ! People of Ahmetler resisted and sent out the company workers.
But the company came back by night, bringing machines in the back of the villagers. People got angry and tried to prevent the company to bring more machines. Then it’s the story of a siege, coz the villagers decided to build a small hut to keep the place and control the territory. They are attacked with tear gas by private security forces of the company, soon help by police and soldiers. One night, the soldiers shoot in the air to make the people afraid and leave. Men wanted to leave, they say it’s too much, but women say they have to stay. Women said to men : « if you want you can go but we will keep the place ». Even when it was cold, even when it was raining, with the soldiers coming and saying « why you don’t just go home ? », women stayed and resisted. « Private security tried to yeld us, they fired with guns on our tent, they make a lot of things to make us leave the resistance. We saw that machine were cutting the trees around, they were a lot of cut trees. », said one woman we met in Ahmetler. Women also used some sit-in action to protest and resist.
And the people of Ahmetler resisted with success. For months, they kept blocated the road that lead to construction site, making very hard for the company to supply the site with food for workers and gas for the machines. For people there, it was a question of survival : the powerplant would have destroyed the canyon, polluted the water and destroy the whole mountain. Agricultural activities and farming would have been made impossible with pollution of the water and of the eco-system. The tourism in the valley, that is economically important for peasants, would also have stopped with destruction of the nature. That’s why people resisted : to save their territory, their lives, and the ones of their children.
People in Ahmetler, led by women, saved their territory. Now the valley is protected by environemental national protection, which mean that the value of the site is recognized and protected.
Long live to people struggles !