Antalya: Demonstrators attempting to halt the demolition of three hotels on Çıralı Beach in the Mediterranean province of Antalya resorted to novel tactics yesterday with approxiamately 30 women blocking the path of engineering vehicles by practicing yoga in the road.
“I have been vacationing in Çıralı for 20 years. The unspoiled natural [setting] attracts many holiday makers like myself. No one will come here when Çıralı’s natural landscape falls into decay and big hotels replace natural structures,” said Anna Rudiger, a 50 year old German tourist in the area.
Following the conclusion of a lawsuit filed by the Ministry of Forestry and Waterworks, officials arrived in the area on May 8 to demolish four small hotels on the grounds they were unlicensed.
The officials were able to bring down only one hotel, however, as the hotels’ owners, supporters and other citizens in the area blocked nearby roads and clashed with the gendarmerie by holding sit-in demonstrations.
Eight demonstrators were consequently detained and later released later the same day, according to reports.
Officials from the Regional Forestry Directorate arrived at Çıralı in Antalya’s Kemer district again yesterday to continue the demolition of the Rose, Emek and Sima hotels at 8 a.m., but were flabbergasted by the sight of some 30 women practicing yoga on the road leading to the hotels in protest of the demolition. The demonstrators continued their protest by practicing yoga for two hours under the supervision of their yoga mentor Melahat Sönmez despite the gendarmerie’s warnings. The protesters later began demolishing the hotels themselves under the gendarmerie’s watch when officials told them that they were going to proceed with the demolition despite protests.
Hediye Gündüz, the Antalya branch head of the Turkey Nature Conservation Association, issued an announcement on behalf of certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that convened in the area, claiming the demolitions were against the law. The demolitions would strike a blow to tourism in Çıralı and pave the way for the region’s reallocation in accordance with the Tourism Incentive Law, according to Gündüz.
Compiled from the Doğan news agency and the Anatolia news agency stories by the Daily News staff in Istanbul.