Once more a demonstration against Eldorado Gold’s Skouries mine in Halkidiki was met with tons of teargas by the riot police. More than 1.500 demonstrators marched to the location where Eldorado’s subsidiary, Hellas Gold, is developing a huge open-pit gold and copper mine right in the middle of what used to be a pristine forest. Approximately 180 hectares of forest have so far been cleared in order to make way for the mine, a processing plant and two monstrous tailings dams. For the past three years, the local people and the broader solidarity movement resisting the mine have faced extreme repression and penalization of their struggle. More than 300 residents of the area are facing criminal charges related to their efforts to preserve the mountain, the environment and the health of their communities.
The protest started around noon and the demonstrators took the police by surprise as they found the gate open and managed to enter the plant construction site. Within moments they were attacked by the riot police with teargas and flash-bang grenades. The demonstrators were pushed outside and the gate was closed but the police started chasing them in the forest, firing massive amounts of teargas directly at them. But the people were determined not to leave and they managed to stay there for three hours, chanting slogans and encouraging each other as teargas canisters were dropping on their heads. The whole area was covered in a white cloud of teargas. Several protestors suffered respiratory problems and one had to be taken to the hospital. Even under these conditions, the demonstrators did not lose their sense of humour and they offered bottles of water to the riot policemen with the sign “Do not beat us. We brought you water. SOS HALKIDIKI”.
This was the first big protest after a while and it proved that the anti- gold mining movement remains strong and determined to oust Eldorado from Halkidiki. According to the press release issued by the people’s Coordinating Committee: “Once more the democratic right to protest was sacrificed on the altar of development. Once more the Greek police played the role of a private security force, unleashing a brutal attack against unarmed protestors. We have every right to defend our land and our lives. No matter how much violence they use, we shall continue our struggle untill the final victory. Soon, the perpetrators of the crime committed in Halkidiki will have to answer for their actions”.
Based on an article by Stavroula Poulimeni on Alterthess.gr
Photos by @lolosmarios and @dromografos
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