Halkidiki, the birthplace of the ancient philosopher Aristotle, is a place of such great natural beauty that, every year, it is flooded by tourists from all over the world...
In the eastern part of Halkidiki lies the primeval forest of Skouries. A few years ago the multinational gold mining company Eldorado Gold settled in Skouries and with the backing of powerful domestic private interests has begun large-scale mining activities. Thus, the irreversible destruction of the ecosystem of Skouries and the contamination of soil and groundwater with heavy metals throughout eastern Halkidiki has already started.
We are residents of Halkidiki. We are fishermen, farmers, stockmen, beekeepers, entrepreneurs and scientists, everyday people like all of you who cherish and protect our land. A few years ago, when we requested information on gold mining in our area from state authorities, we only encountered silence from their part. Afterwards, when we requested a public debate to be conducted on the issue, state authorities repeatedly postponed it until they infinitely deferred it. When we turned to independent scientific and academic institutions to find out the potential impacts of mining on our lives, we were informed that the consequences were going to be irreparable for both our ecosystems and local economy. When we appealed to justice, competent courts proceeded to review only the legality of mining permits, without ruling on the essence of the matter and the ensuing destruction. When we protested against the mining, the police forces took over acting as an occupation army in our region, spreading violence and terrorizing us and our children. When, in August 2013, it was officially announced that the water in the local Neohori village is not potable due to toxic level concentration of arsenic, the State did not examine possible connections between this incident and the presence of Eldorado Gold drillings at a short distance from the village water resources. When, recently, EU institutions looked into state backing to the ‘investment’, the European Court of Justice condemned Greece for having illegally financially supported mining companies in Halkidiki with millions of Euros, and thus the state’s dubious involvement in this “investment” was undeniably proven. Today, when we attempt to hike in the forest of Skouries or harvest our beehives we encounter control checks from Eldorado Gold’s armed men who deny us access thus restricting our freedom of movement. And now the Greek State is characterizing our movement as terrorist, equating our actions with the criminal violence of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, sending to prison four locals and launching dozens of prosecutions against other locals active in our struggles, thus institutionalizing and legitimizing the violence and injustice against us.
We, who issue this call, are residents of Halkidiki and citizens of Greece in solidarity to Halkidiki. For three years now we have taken to the streets to protest against what is happening in Skouries. We are not merely demonstrating for our rights but for life itself, for our own and our children’s future. We stand in solidarity to everyone who fights for life, equality, freedom, and dignity. The criminalization and repression of the struggles of social movements who support basic freedoms is the only reaction left to a panicky system of power. It is our duty to raise our voice and protect those who resist the arbitrariness of power. We believe that united we have the power.
On November 9th we call for simultaneous protests, events or actions around the world to stop all imprisonment and persecution against us and to immediately cease the mining of gold in Halkidiki. Our struggle has reached a critical point. Now we need you all.