Reinforced police and gendarmerie teams were deployed to Cerattepe in Black Sea province of Artvin, while locals’ protest against mining efforts of a company have been intervened by tear gas and batons.
On early Feb. 17 marking the second day of protests, along with additional police forces, a military unit was deployed at a distant location to the protest scene.
“We have been resisting in the last 20 years. We understand that the intervention will be different today. We do not have any guns or armament. We defend living creatures’ right to live with our bodies. The Artvin people shows an extraordinary resistance. We will resume the resistance, today as well” said Green Artvin Association Head Neşe Karahan.
Karahan was subsequently detained by police, along with three other people that included other members of her organization. Meanwhile, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Uğur Bayraktutan began a hunger strike outside the Artvin Governor’s Office.
Police forces intervened with tear gas for the third time since the protests begun. Many of the locals were badly affected by the tear gas. Police chased a group attempting to advance towards the Kafkasör highland.
“Public’s consent needed”
“A large botanic garden will be destroyed and risk of landslide will increase” urged the written statement of Geophysics Engineers Branch, underlining most of the trees will be cut off. The mining site is very close to domestic water source, according to the statement.
The region is amongst 25 hot spots to protect world nature, said the statement, stating that neo-liberal politics, harming education, health, social security, environment and minings, have been destroying agricultural and urban areas. These natural spots have been sold to foreign global capitals owned by unidentified sources, it added.
“It is a public responsibility to protect the nature and extract mine for the interest of the public. Therefore, the police intervention against Artvin locals having this conscience is an inexplicable approach. Economic activities without taking the consent of local people cannot be accepted.”
Artvin fighting since 1997
Green Artvin Association has launched a legal fight in 1997, one year after the Canadian Cominco Mining Company has obtained license to extract mine in the region. Cominco has assigned the license to İmmet Mining Company.
After a decision of the Council of State, the license was cancelled in 2002. However, the fight restarted as Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources authorized companies to extract copper, silver and gold mine, in 2012.
Following a lawsuit process, most recently 761 people and 60 lawyers claimed against the ministry’s decision that the mining would have no negative effects to the environment.
Within the largest environmental law case, referees’ examination in the region is expected, after court decision.
Some 300 vehicles of locals have blocked the road to halt the access of company’s heavy equipment and vehicles on Feb. 16.
Thousands of locals and NGOs have been waiting on hills, staying the night by lighting fires, in a bid to watch and protect the nature.
Police teams have intervened with tear gas two times in a row yesterday, when the protest flared out. While police teams towed locals’ cars to open the traffic, around 300 people set a barricade by stones, woods and garbage cans. “We will win by resisting” chanted protesters behind the barricade.