ANKARA (Reuters) – Students at a top Turkish university on Monday protested against plans to bulldoze hundreds of trees to build a new dormitory on campus, as police used pepper spray to disperse crowds and began cutting down trees, video footage showed.
Student’s at the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara have been camping on the construction site for 55 days, arguing that the construction work will disrupt the 4-hectare (10 acre) green area’s ecosystem and cause environmental damage.
Early on Monday, police told students to disperse and later used tear gas when they refused to leave. Media reports said no students had been detained.
Following clashes between protesters and police, authorities began to cut down the cottonwood trees in the area, the footage from the site showed.
Some 750 trees will be cut down, the university chairman’s office said, adding that the dormitory was being built on campus land where construction is permitted.
Reporting by Mert Ozkan; writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; editing by Jason Neely