Sunday, 1 February 2015

Remembering an Eco Warrior


As we go into February it looks like good news might be on the horizon for the endangered coastline of Turkey.  Rather than presumptuously celebrate the possibility that someone in government has actually realised that they can't endlessly sell off what's left of this country's natural beauty, I am remembering a local heroine who put her heart, soul and health into fighting to keep our corner of Turkey clean and natural. When Saynur Gelendost moved to Bodrum in the late 1970s, she probably thought she'd live on a boat in the harbour and carry on her artistic pursuits, but she was not the sort to sit on the sidelines and watch her beloved Gulf of Gokova ruined.  She is famous for her protests against power stations and drew our attention by asking if the generation of electricity should be more important than the welfare of the environment and the public's health.  She asked why 3 power stations should be built in our corner of Muğla on active seismic areas, by a foreign consortium that not only took insufficient notice of the inferiority of the coal available here but also failed to provide adequate filters and, having made this mistake once, carried on making the same mistake again and again. When passive protests proved ineffective she was the first to lie down in front of bulldozers and she embarked on a hunger strike in the 1990s which probably hastened her demise in 2003. Her legacy is that proper filters were eventually fitted.
The power station chimney at Ören. Positioned next to the sea to provide cooling water , a process which is detrimental to marine life. 

If you are sailing in the Gulf of Gokova, you will notice bin bags being collected from deserted bays by a rubbish boat - an idea instigated and brought to fruition by Saynur Hanim after she was shocked at the amount of trash left behind by charter boats. When our village was fighting a cement company that was set on turning our hillsides into an open cast mine, Saynur was there with support and practical advice that helped us rout the developers.

I was reminded of her a second time the past couple of days as tempers flared again between Turkey and Greece over Kardak Island, a tiny cluster of rock between Gümüşlük and Kalymnos.  "Seals belong on Kardak" she stated, "not guns."


12 comments:

  1. Thanks much, B to B, for that lovely look back at a kindred spirit. And let's hear it for the seals.

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  2. . . it is always about commodification for the benefit of the few - if money can be made off of it, it will be exploited and the externalities will be socialised. Thank goodness for those, like Saynur Hanim who, despite walls of greed and indifference, refuse to lie down - unless it is in support of that on which we all depend, true justice, equality and Toprak Anne, Mother Earth!

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    1. It looks like good news for Iztuzu though, doesn't it.

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  3. Hello,

    Saynur sounds to have been a remarkable woman and her efforts do serve to remind us all that individuals can and do make a difference.

    It is so sad when short term greed is placed time and time again over long term need, especially so when the environment is the big loser as it so often is.

    Your coastline is so very beautiful and how sad if future generations cannot enjoy it as it is today. But, perhaps, as you say, there may be good news ahead!

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    1. There seems to be a change in the air which is blowing for the good

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  4. Annie,

    Mark reminded me that a friend had given us a book about Saynur recently - "Mavi Kadın" by Gaye Cön Şakar. I haven't read it yet but now I'm motivated. Thanks! J

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    1. Glad to be the source of any motivation

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  5. What an inspirational lady - we need more Saynur Hanims, wonderful post, Ozlem x

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  6. Thank you for telling us about this remarkable woman and her courage and perseverance. I do hope her example is inspiring a new generation of protesters against wanton destruction.

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