Featured image: Peasants protest against DEDAŞ electricity company in Viranşehir, in the province of Urfa in southeastern Turkey. Source: Yeni Demokrasi
Peasants have been protesting against the power cuts implemented by DEDAŞ electricity company in Viranşehir, in the province of Urfa in southeastern Turkey during the past week. Yeni Demokrasi reported on 9th of July that the peasants had been without eletricity for five days, and were unable to irrigate their fields. Around 300 people built burning barricades of tires, closed roads and protested in front of the DEDAŞ electricity company office in Viranşehir. They were attacked by the police and the gendarmerie, who used water cannons and pepper spray against the protest. Around 20 people were detained.
The protest is continuing, and on the 15th of July Yeni Demokrasi reported that peasants had closed the Urfa-Mardin highway and the Karakeçi Highway between Viranşehir and nearby Siverek. The peasants carried banners and shouted slogans demanding a solution to their situation. They affirmed they will keep on protesting until their demands are met. The protest was again severely repressed, and soldiers beat up the protesters and confiscated their tractors, and again detained 20 of them.
The power outages have left whole villages without water and electricity during hot summer months. Some peasants have been unable to pay the high electricity prices, and now DEDAŞ is implementing the power cuts as a form of collective punishment to collect debts. Earlier this summer, two villages in Diyarbakır were without electricity for weeks. This caused great harm to the villagers, who were unable to live their lives normally, to take care of their hygiene, and lost their crops to drought and were unable to properly care of their animals. Also this time, the villagers blocked roads to demand the situation to be solved.
Implementing power cuts against the poor is a systematic policy of the company. Earlier it has been reported that a baby died from cold in 2021, when DEDAŞ cut electricity from a family in the middle of winter. In 2017 DEDAŞ workers were held hostage by people demanding the company to stop the power cuts, and in 2020 and 2021 there was peasant protests against the company. In 2020, company officials were investigated for depriving the public of their right to public services, as well as corruption. In the province of Mardin, over a thousand villagers filed a criminal complaint against DEDAŞ, as it has not followed the earlier court decisions ruling its practice of power cuts illegal. After the complaint, the court did not completely rule against the practice but said in early July 2023 that DEDAŞ needs to provide at least 21 hours of electricity daily. However, new power cuts were once again implemented, and the company is able to continue like before, guarded by the State forces.