Our Statements

february 21, 2024

The AKP-MHP Government Committed a Double Massacre in Iliç

The massacre committed in Iliç by the Canadian Anagold company, to which Erdoğan’s family company, Çalık Holding, is a partner, is not the first of its kind. Rather, it is the result of a chain of crimes that have been carried out continuously since the establishment of the company. Due to the fact that cyanide is extracted, the activities of the company, established on the Bingöl-Yedisu earthquake fault line, pose a serious threat to society and nature. The conditions for today’s massacre were set, despite the great dangers it posed, by the ongoing expansion of production capacity accompanied by “Environmental Impact Assessment” (EIA) reports, which have been a license to disaster since the construction of the extraction facility, and, finally, the support for unlimited production in August 2023 without the requirement for as much as an EIA report.

Civil society organizations, environmental movements, and the general public have all issued warnings about this crisis, but they have been disregarded. With the extraction company situated near the Euphrates River, the terrain was set up for atrocities. Even though on June 21, 2022, over 210 cubic meters of cyanide spilled into the Euphrates River near Iliç, the scope of the threat was never fully disclosed. The images taken by the public from the scene of the crime informing about the catastrophe were buried, and the criminal company was protected. Instead of taking accountability, the government and the crony firm are trying to use false information to hide the threat, rather than admitting responsibility.

There has still been no word on the missing workers days after the incident. Furthermore, similar to the seismic event of February 6, there are reports that the exact number of people who lost their lives in this massacre – for which the government is responsible – is being withheld. In addition to blocking political parties, social contacts, civil society organizations, and the free press from entering the area, the AKP-MHP-ruled government continues to keep the massacre under wraps. Those who are capable of investigating the incident are being detained while those who are guilty of the disaster walk free.

With the leakage of the cyanide pool, carcinogenic compounds were released into the land, water, and air, presenting a major threat to all life and damaging the environment. The government cannot hide the Iliç atrocity, which put the people of the region in a peril comparable to that of Chernobyl. In addition to the scope of this calamity, the fascist mindset of the AKP-MHP government poses the greatest threat to the peoples of Kurdistan, Turkey, and the areas surrounding it. Their policies of complete destruction are mirrored in all aspects of life as well as in the natural world.

Despite the government’s greatest attempts to cover up and conceal the facts, keeping quiet will only deepen the threat and pave the way for many more tragedies. Because of this, life can only be saved from the AKP-MHP fascist government’s plunder and destruction by a concerted, deliberate, and all-encompassing struggle.

The globe as a whole, as well as the peoples of Turkey and Kurdistan, are at risk from the double-atrocity committed in Iliç against nature and society. This criminal network massacres against the environment have reached the greatest possible level all through the Middle East. The AKP has been implementing complete ecological, social, and cultural destruction with the dams it has built on the grounds of national security. Ever since it came to power, the AKP has used monopolistic water policies as a weapon against Kurdistan and neighboring nations, from the forests it burns and cuts down, to the power plants, and the plundering policies against livestock and agriculture; the AKP’s character is to plunder and sell. All to the extent where it has destroyed history and culture with projects like Hasankeyf1 and Zeugma2.

Through these actions, which are a reflection of the fascist spirit of genocide, life is put in danger and poverty, migration, and desertification are enforced. The AKP is the largest threat to social and ecological life in the region, particularly in Kurdistan, with thousands of pillage projects which it has not yet implemented.

The people’s fight for survival is linked to the Kurdistan freedom struggle against the fascist Turkish government, which has used ecological destruction as a tactic in warfare. Nine lives were lost in Iliç, but the fascist ideology of the AKP-MHP also contributed to the total demise of both the natural world and society. We must mobilize now more than ever to defend life, our nation, our water, our soil, and our air from the devastation and brutality caused by such an ideology. Preventing ecological massacres will also prevent social and cultural massacres, as it would have done in Iliç. The only way to stop these atrocities is to strengthen the ecological movement.

By joining the peoples, women, youth, and all facets of society—particularly the labor, democratic, ecological, and environmental movements—we can resist these policies. Such policies threaten our nature, lives, and future and rely on extortion, war, and degradation. Let us take action based on the knowledge that nature’s outcry indicates the end of times.

KCK Ecology Committee


Footnotes added by the translator:

1 The Kurdish province of Hasankeyf was the site of an ancient city fortress on the Tigris River which, despite immense national/international resistance, fell victim to a government dam project and was completely submerged in 2020.

2 In ancient times, Zeugma was a city on the banks of the Euphrates River and an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. It sank in October 2000 in the floods of one of the Turkish government’s many dam projects.