Local community prosecuted for resisting Eldorado Gold’s Skouries mining project in Halkidiki – trial in Thessaloniki, Greece June 9th
“ They’ve done all they could to bury me, yet they forgot I was a seed.” – D. Christianopoulos
On June 9th -at the Thessaloniki Court of Appeal- begins the trial of 21 of our fellow-strugglers, for the case of arson at the Skouries construction site on February 17, 2013.
The arson of machinery at the Skouries construction site marked the beginning of an unprecedented campaign of prosecution against an entire society. Without pretext, the prosecuting mechanism turned indiscriminately against all citizens who actively participated in the movement against gold mining. Arrests, interrogations, detentions, disappearances into police headquarter basements, illegal DNA sampling and the creation of a database of personal genetic information, imprisonments in the form of preventive detention.
In March 2013, an army of fully armed men of the Greek Police invaded Ierissos, in search of suspects for the arson attack at the construction site of Skouries. It was obvious -by the scale and brutality of the police operation- that the entire society was targeted. A resisting society had to be broken for two reasons: firstly, to enable the uninhibited continuation of the plans of the multinational mining corporation, and on the other hand, to act as an exemplary deterrent to any further resistance.
In April 2013, special forces of the Greek police invaded the homes of two individuals -at dawn and by breaking down the doors- taking them into custody in front of their children’s eyes. Following a long interrogation process in Thessaloniki’s Police Headquarters -and not in Polygyros as procedure dictated- their preventive detention was decided. The state -once again- chose a violent and extreme strategy with an obvious goal to terrorize the whole of society and dismantle the social movement. Two more preventive detentions followed.
At that moment, it became obvious that the State acted in service of colonial multinational corporations and the cost was paid, and is being paid, by those who resisted and of course by our homeland. And when the State adopts the doctrine of “investments at any cost”, social struggles are criminalized and Democracy is directly attacked. The presumption of innocence no longer applies: whosoever resists “development” and “investments” is guilty. Evidence-based charges stop being the prerequisite for prosecution, opposition to extraction practices suffices to find oneself in detention centers, in hospital, in court or in jail.
This situation is not unnatural for a neoliberal government that unequivocally states that “investments will be protected at any cost”. On the contrary, for a political party that is self-defined as radical left, this situation should be the opposite of everything that constitutes its ideological existence. A year and a half since SYRIZAS’ assumption of power, the Canadian mining corporation Eldorado Gold has been granted one permit after the other and the local community continues to find itself in the position of being held accountable and prosecuted. The multinational corporation continues to destroy and the local community remains under a hostageship of prosecution. Let it be noted that this Canadian corporation has stated that it will attend the June 9th trial as prosecutor. Greatly surprising for a corporation, which makes sure to stress often that it in no way turns against the local community!
The appeal to legality is simply an evasion. Legitimacy is not a natural law, it is a human convention and can be changed. Governments change law in accordance with their ideological orientation: either towards the end of serving large-scale economic interests and corporations which lobby, extort, bribe – or towards the end of serving the benefit of society as a whole and public interest.
The social movement against gold mining in Halkidiki struggles not only against the destruction of the environment and predatory exploitation of common resources. It also struggles against all that which puts profit for the few above life of the many. And in this struggle none will be left alone.
On June 9th, it is not only 21 members of the struggle who are being tried, we all are. A whole society struggling for its existence is being put on trial. The support of these people, just as victory, is a one-way street. We will persevere until the final vindication of a just struggle and the salvation of our homeland.
On June 8th, we call for a protest-by-night in Aristotle Square, Thessaloniki
and the next morning we all gather together at the Thessaloniki Court of Appeal.
Struggle Committees of Halkidiki and Thessaloniki against mining