Turkish authorities restrict access to disaster-hit province, detain activists

The Tunceli Governor’s Office has imposed a five-day ban on outgoing travel to neighboring Erzincan, where on Tuesday a landslide at a gold mine left nine workers trapped, the Mezopotamya news agency reported.

Law enforcement has detained several members of the Human Rights Association (İHD) who were on their way to the scene, the report said.

Sedat Cezayirlioğlu, a local environmental activist known for his years-long advocacy against gold mining in the region, was also detained due to his remarks in videos he posted on social media in reaction to the incident.

Cezayirlioğlu had warned that the mass of earth contains large amounts of cyanide, which could impact the wider region if it contaminates nearby dams and reservoirs.

The police set up barricades on the main route connecting the provinces and intercepted local politicians from the Peoples’ Democracy and Equality Party (DEM) and the Socialist Party of Oppressed (ESP) as well as members of a local environmental association who were on their way to Erzincan.

“This obstruction has the same goal as in similar events, to hide from the public the consequences of environmental plunder aimed at growing the wealth of pro-government financiers,” said Özcan Gürtaş, a provincial executive from the DEM Party.

Turkish authorities commonly impose gag orders, restrict social media and ban gatherings following natural disasters that are likely to draw criticism to the government’s crisis management.

In the aftermath of last year’s devastating earthquakes of February 6, Turkey temporarily restricted access to X, formerly Twitter, and detained scores of social media users over their commentary.

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