Northern Greece – Thessaloniki -Update on the struggle against the mines in Halkidiki


Translation act for freedom now/B.pd
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The struggle for the land is a struggle for freedom

We want woods, land and water. We don’t want a gold coffin.
 This is happening in Haldikiki.
The enterprise of Ellenikos Xrisos Spa, a mining company 95% of which belongs to Canadian multinational Eldorado Gold and 5% to the Greek tycoon Bobola, started off right in the wood of Skouriés, in Haldikiki.
In spite of the fact that it has been ascertained that this kind of ‘activity’ is lethal to life and that the Council of State – which the inhabitants of the area made recourse to – hasn’t yet expressed itself on the matter, entire hectares of wood are being chopped off with irreversible consequences for nature and the economy of the region, based on fishing, agriculture and tourism. The project being promoted – an open crater for gold extraction – is just the beginning of the mining activities planned in Haldikiki and is to be seen in the context of the total selling off of natural resources and public infrastructures which follows the austerity measures imposed by the government.
In the villages of the region, and not only, many counter-information initiatives have been held for quite a while, denouncing the devastation inflicted on those territories and the plunder of its inhabitant’ lives committed by the State and the bosses.

 In the last months, as works were continuing, the struggle has also increased, at such a point that the movement of resistance, which was born a few years ago, is today counting on the participation of the great majority of the local population. During this time, numerous episodes have characterized the life of many men and women, the old and the young and even children. They all have matured through a mobilization which has gone beyond geographical and perhaps also ideological borders: demos on the mountain close to the construction yard, which were deliberately ignored by the media and brutally repressed by the police; manhunts in the woods and teargas tossed at head height; constant threats from the workers of the company that won the work contract, and from its bosses, culminated with cowardly aggressions and the arson of the site of a permanent gathering set up by the people against harmfulness.
On February 17 2013, around fifty masked people attacked and set the yard of Skouriés and all the machinery and tools of the company on fire. For a long time, the only weapon used in this struggle was the roaring voice of angry people, which didn’t prevent the police charges unleashed by the watch dogs of the yard from striking everyone. That’s why a communiqué issued after the action says that ‘the destruction of the yard was the result of the violent practices of the police and the State’, the champions of private businesses and their interests.
 Following the events of Sunday February 17, a ruthless manhunt was opened with the only aim of discouraging all the people who oppose the project, who fully realize that ‘we are being subjected to a furious attempt at intimidation and silencing’. On the following day dozens of people were seized from their homes and the streets and taken to the police station. Some were kept inside there for hours. Others were accused of being the organizers of the action and only because they had always taken part to all the demos. Identifications were provided by the mining company, even if those who did the action were masked. Finally, even if no formal charge was pressed all the arrested people had their fingerprints taken along with organic material which would be used for DNA tests.
As the investigation had come to nothing, on March 7 at dawn the forces of ‘order’ unleashed their reprisal: they turned out at the homes of 5 people in Ierissòs – a 30,000-inhabitant little town where everybody is against the mines – and took them to the police station in order to question them about the ‘events of February 17.’ At around 11am, under the pretext that the police had to search the houses of the 5 arrested people, antiriot cops and armed antiterrorism squads raided the town and tried to militarily occupy it. This reminded the elderly of the 1941 German occupation of the town. The videos and pictures of this police operation are indeed really horrifying. People soon gathered at the entrance of the town where a barricade made of tyres was put to fire in order to prevent the cops from entering. Then a chemical war was stirred and teargas allowed the cops to set a state of siege and terror: they went into some houses smashing doors, raided them in front of children, and gassed a school during classes, sending several people to hospital. In the school there was also a 15-year-old girl who had been contacted a few days earlier as a witness of the attack on the yard. This clumsy attempt at making a snitch out of a girl or accusing her of the action had provoked everybody’s indignation: the school had in fact been occupied in protest by both teachers and students.
 As repression was rampaging, the inhabitants of Ierissòs remained in the streets until late in the night and tried to demonstrate their hostility to the authority waging war.
At the end of this repressive operation, the cops seized a dozens of shotguns, firecrackers and radio transmitters. They also arrested four people who did not have regular licences for their shotguns. During the summary trial, which was held on March 8, hundreds of people shouted slogans against the police and the mines. The four arrested people were released and the trial will be resumed on March 20.
On March 9 northern Greece sent a clear message during one of the most massive demos ever held in Thessaloniki (about 20,000 people): ‘we won’t allow anyone to decide on our lives and future: no devastation on our land, no gold mines, no state of repression.’
A few people in solidarity from the other side of the Mediterranean
OUR SILENCE… THEIR GOLD: Video of the Open Coordinative of Thessaloniki against the goldmines that was first screened in an event of counter-information at Aristotelous Square in the city of Thessaloniki (April 26, 2012) —press cc button to enable English subtitles (trans. by Contra Info)

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