There were violent scenes on Sunday morning in Halkidiki as local residents protesting the Skouries mine clashed with employees of Eldorado Gold who had called a last minute counter-demonstration.
The committee of residents had organised a protest march against the mine, advertised in advance by poster. When Eldorado Gold miners, on the eve of the march, announced a counter protest, the collision course for Sunday’s violence was set in motion. Given the history of violent clashes between the opposing camps, you might expect the counter protest to have been forbidden by police, but unfortunately it was allowed to go ahead uncontested.
When the miners did arrive, from behind the lines of riot police, and in plain sight, they threw stones at the protesters. Riot police resorted to tear gas in attempts to subdue the clashes.
SYRIZA MP, Katerina Inglezi, condemned the actions of the police, “What happened is unprecedented! Riot police not only allowed the miners, who were obviously in a confrontational mood, to reach the point where residents were gathered, but rallied with them! The police attacked the residents along with Eldorado Gold’s miners. I condemn those responsible for the police’s actions…This unacceptable situation doesn’t only concern the inhabitants of Halkidiki and the movement against mining. It exposes the government itself. Who controls the police? The government or Eldorado Gold? The people here are disappointed.”
Elodorado Gold last week announced that it had received a letter from Greece’s Ministry of Productive Reconstruction, Energy and Environment, revoking its permit to construct a processing plant at the Skouries site.
The Press Project last week were part of a coalition that launched a report by the Dutch based NGO, SOMO, into Eldorado Gold’s tax avoidance structures that allow it to dodge tax in Greece via mailbox companies in the Netherlands. Eldorado Gold’s mining activities in Greece were promoted as part of a foreign investment programme by the previous government. SOMO’s report however, throws into question the supposed benefits of the project. Whilst it is providing employment for some local miners, the environmental impact of its activities on other areas of the local economy and the lasting devastation that the mines will have, look set to cancel out the benefits.