“We want the land, the water and the trees, not a golden tomb”
Over the past few years, people have been resisting Eldorado Gold’s proposed and existing mining operations in the Halkidiki Peninsula in Northern Greece. Of particular concern – and the source of mass social unrest since 2012 – is the proposed Skouries mine, which resides in the ancient Skouries forest on top of Mount Kakavos, the main freshwater source for the region. Opposition to this mine has been widespread, with demonstrations and protests spreading from towns located within the peninsula (Skouries, Thessaloniki, and Ierissos) to the capital city of Greece, Athens. These protests have been regularly occurring and ranging from 30 participants to 20,000. Just as resistance has been increasing and tactics escalating, so has the presence and level of brutality exercised by the state.
On February 17th, 2013, several dozen intruders raided the site of the Skouries mine and, using petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails, caused extensive damage to company equipment including temporary offices and machinery. Following this operation, the state has released a relentless campaign of community surveillance, police repression, and violence that has significantly breached national and international human rights law. Amnesty International has noted that following this attack, over a hundred residents in the villages of Ierissos and Megali Panagia have been interviewed in connection to the arson case, with many residents unable to access lawyers upon request. According to journalist Dina Daskalopoulou, residents reported that they were eitherintimidated to provide a DNA sample or were forced to do so. After providing the DNA sample, those arrested were coerced into signing a statement confirming that they provided the sample out of their own “free will”. Those kidnapped off the streets and taken to police stations without family or friends being notified of their whereabouts included minors, some of whom reported being beaten when interrogated for their political beliefs and participation in anti-mining demonstrations. More recently, on Wednesday April 4th, 2013, police raided the family homes of two arson suspects in Ierissos. Angered by this excessive use of force, members of the village retaliated by breaking into the police station, removing furniture, and setting fire to it. Road blockades have also been installed to prevent police for entering the village.
The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network denounces this form of repression and abuse, and calls on the Greek state to respect the right of the people of Greece to engage in democratic processes without the fear of violence, detainment, or harassment. Furthermore, as a group that often maintains strong links with mining affected communities, we stand in solidarity with the people of Halkidiki in opposing the Skouries mine. We join the chorus of voices that shout, “we want the land, the water and the trees, not a golden tomb”! We reject a toxic industry that results in environmental degradation, water contamination, community conflict, and the destruction of important cultural sites. We call on the Greek state to heed the calls of civil society actors and community members to halt the development of the Skouries mine and to end police violence and repression. The Greek state’s purpose should not be to cater to the interests of capital, but to preserve the culture, dignity, and life of its people.
The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network
For a magazine published by SOS Halkidiki on mining in the region, please see: http://issuu.com/soshalkidikisintfor/docs/soshalkidiki_01_en
For updates on the struggle against Eldorado Gold please visit:https://soshalkidiki.wordpress.com/category/in-english/