Turkish grandmother battles to save olive farm from encroaching coal mine - in pictures

The 64-year-old activist is part of a local movement to stop coal mining expansion in south-western Turkey

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Sixty-four-year-old grandmother Tayyibe Demirel is singlehandedly taking on the operators of a coal mine in a bid to save her land and village.

Behind the lush greenery of Demirel's olive groves in south-western Turkey lies a vast, grey expanse.

The rolling hillside has been eaten by the nearby mine.

On the horizon, heavy smoke billows from the power plant it feeds - the country's largest.

"I have been crying at night until dawn. Six years ago, when I was picking olives, the excavations of these mine companies had not come this close. When the farmers were shaking olive tree branches, I was worried. That was when this struggle began."

Demirel said that the area beyond her fields had once been carpeted with wildflowers.

'A hell pit'

"I love green. I am in love with green. I am in love with birdsongs, the green and the nature that God created. Once my sister was crawling in the fields that are now destroyed. Three or four years before this was demolished, she was posing for photos among tulips, daisies and poppies. This is no more. Which is better, a hell pit - as I call it - or nature? What do you think?"

Five villages have already disappeared as the mine expanded. Hers could be next.

"They say all the land around will be dug and plundered, and your olive grove will be stuck in the middle. I object. I will continue my struggle despite my sickness. I will seek my rights stemming from the laws."

Turkish authorities are pushing to more than double coal power capacity, as the country tries to wean itself off imports.

The Yatagan Power Plants said its operations respect the environment and are carried out under supervision of relevant ministries.

Campaigners say the equivalent of nearly 8,000 soccer fields has been lost to mining in the last four decades across the Mugla province.

Activists such as Deniz Gumsel say coal pollution has led to major health issues, alongside environmental damage.

Court battle to halt mine expansion

But Gumsel says there's reason to hope - thanks to the resistance of the women, like Demirel, from nearby villages.

"... the woman villagers, the female villagers of Ikizkoy, Milas are carrying out an incredible fight against this unjustice business - coal business and they were very successful to stop or slow down the progression of the mines for instance."

Last month, Demirel won a court case leading to a halt of the mine's expansion towards her village.

She still fears her six-acre property is still under threat - but won't give up without a fight.

"One day, my grandson will ask me, 'Grandmother where is your village? Where were you born?' I was not born in the city. I was born here, married here and lived here and I want to live here until the end of my life and die here. Don't take me away from my village."

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