More tear gas in in Artvin, Turkey as anti-mining protests enter 7th day (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

File Photo © Yasin Akgul
Hundreds of activists gathered in the Black Sea province of Artvin, Northwest Turkey, to oppose plans to build a gold mine in the area. Police again used tear gas and batons to disperse the angry crowd.

On Sunday, nearly 2,000 activists, including women staged protests in Artvin’s Cerattepe region, Hurriyet Daily News reported. Turkish forces warned the group to disperse but a number of people tried squeezing through police. Some women fell to the ground in fear of being crushed and others got hit with police batons.

Environmentalists began throwing stones and police deployed rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons in response, according to Hurriyet. 26 people were hurt in the clashes,with one seriously injured, CNN Turk reported. A number of people were reportedly tended to by the emergency services. Others tried hiding in nearby buildings to avoid teargas currents.

“This mine should be closed,” one activist told Hurriyet noting the extraordinary beauty of the region.

The Turkish group, owned by Cengiz Holding, the company intending to build a new mine, began construction works in the Cerattape district of Artvin province earlier in the week, whose capital, the city of Artvin, is home to more than 20,000 people. The Artvin Forestry Department accused Cengiz Holding of the illegal plan to cut 3,500 trees in the area to make way for the mine. On Saturday, the authority filed a criminal complaint, Today’s Zaman reported.

The threat to the trees prompted thousands of people to pour into the streets with police dispersing protesters nearly every day since security forces began closing off roads on Monday ahead of the arrival of bulldozers and utility vehicles.

On Wednesday, police fired huge amounts of tear gas when up to 3,000 materialized on the streets to show their opposition to the mine. Saturday saw approximately 1,000 demonstrators trying to join the activists, who were dispersed with tear gas, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

In the face of the fierce opposition, Artvin authorities have introduced a ban on new arrivals to the city center of Artvin, Dogan news agency reported. Turkish police have barred hundreds of people from joining the on-going rallies. Announcements via public speakers were also reportedly banned.

The Cengiz Holding Company started its gold mining efforts in Cerattepe area back in 2012. In 2014, a court decision halted the company's project, after an environmental impact report on the mine had been considered.

However, a new report was approved by the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs in June 2015, following the Cengiz Holding Company’s appeal to one of the Turkey’s highest courts.

READ MORE: Police teargas locals protesting new gold mines in Artvin, northeast Turkey