Radical Left Wing Groups and Environmental Mobilizations in Turkey

Friday, July 18, 2014: 10:55 AM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Hayriye OZEN , Political science and Public Administration, Atilim University, Ankara, Turkey
A number of protest movements emerged in Turkey over the last decade against big investment projects such as hydroelectric power plants, goldmines, thermal power stations, nuclear power stations, and dams. Envisaging these struggles as part of the broader anti-capitalist struggles, left wing groups heavily involved in these mobilizations in order to direct their opposition to neoliberal capitalism and corporate globalization. This study focuses on two environmental protest movements that emerged under the leadership of the radical left wing individuals and organizations: the movement against hydroelectric power plants in the eastern Black Sea region, and the movement against goldmines in the Aegean region. Examining the effects of the leadership of the radical left figures on these two movements, it argues that while the involvement of the left wing individuals and organizations proved decisive in the generation of these grassroots mobilizations, it also simultaneously undermined the same movements in various ways. The leftist figures played critical roles in the emergence of these mobilizations by raising critical awareness in local people concerning investment projects, by providing them discursive frames to view investments and environment, by providing resources in the form of information and materials, and by connecting local protesters to the leftist networks. Yet, they also influenced the movements in negative ways by preventing the involvement of liberal groups to these movements, and by carrying over the cleavages and clashes between the leftist groups. Moreover, the involvement of the radical left groups is used by the state as a pretext to criminalize and stigmatize the protesters as well as to repress the environmental movements.