A forest fire that broke out as a result of a military operation in the countryside of Hozat district in Tunceli (Dersim), has been raging for 13 days.
The fire started near the villages of Tanzi (Danzi) and Kurukaymak and the hamlet of Koçeri, and spread to Buztepe (Karper) village and the hamlets of Mudek and Hinzori. Locals tried to intervene in the fires but so far have been blocked by soldiers.
According to locals, the area was bombed three times by a drone on 16 August, and the fire started on 17 August after a helicopter fired something into the forest. Since that day it has continued to rage.
The lack of state intervention in the fire has given rise to public outrage, and there has been a Twitter campaign with the hashtag #dersimyanıyorsesver (Dersim is burning. Speak out,) going on for days.
A resident of Karper village in Ovacik district recalled that their village had been burned by the Turkish army in 1994 as part of an operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the region.
“We’ve been back two years, we’ve re-built our house here. Our villages will burn again. The hamlets of Mudek and Hınzori, which were evacuated in 1994, have already burnt.”
Responding to the fires, residents of Dersim have been calling for support for nearly two weeks.
On 28 August, 74 bar associations in Turkey also made a joint call for immediate air and ground response to the fires, which had at that time been raging for 11 days in the districts of Hozat and Ovacik.
Fatih Mehmet Maçoğlu, the Mayor of Tunceli municipality, broadcast a video on his official Twitter account on the afternoon of 28 August, showing vast swathes of forest burning in the mountains.
Finally after the public outcry, the Governorate of Tunceli said today (29 August) that two helicopters have been transferred to the region.
“We have been intervening from ground and air in the forest fires at Tanzi Stream in Hozat since the early hours of this morning, and we aim to complete the work during the day,” said the governor.