Sadık Çelik • Interview with the “Friendship of Mount Ida – Kazdağları”

Kazdağları Mount ida

During a canoe trip I took two years ago from Bordeaux to the World Council meeting on water in Marseille, I formulated a wish: “Water, forests, animals, human beings, and the Earth will find their freedom thanks to solidarity!”


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Despite all the negatives, despite the “heirs” of the Left placing obstacles in our efforts for another world, there is a way out. I am convinced that the younger generations, with their own dynamics, their own ways and inventivity, along with the ancients who listen to them politely and understand them, will be in the leadership with their combined talent to understand and defend life. It is thanks to their solidarity that the bad days will pass and resolve themselves in life’s favor, which is to say in favor of water, lands, forests, animals and humans.

Being motivated now for the final stages that will be played out on our exhausted and seriously wounded planet will carry our new vital reflexes toward the true beauties of the Earth.

All it takes is a refusal to resign ourselves to the conditions imposed by the thugs, enemies of the planet. In all cricumstances, there are still actions each person, each group can perform to the Earth’s benefit…A bit everywhere, there are fronts facing the thugs and widening their web, in Munzur, in Hasankeyf, in Alakır, in the Black Sea region, on Mount Ida – Kazdağları, but also in the Amazon, Honduras, in Dakota, in India, in Bolivia… Thanks to “water solidarity”, in the near future, all these areas will become “water democracies”. It is through this byway through water that I send once again my greetings, solidarity and friendship to all these struggles.

And I understand better today, in observing the resistance around Mount Ida-Kazdağları, that I am not mistaken. In the hope that this struggle will open the way to resistance and future solidarities, and in order to carry the enthusiasm of these days of resistance at Kazdağları on to other regions, I share this interview I conducted with the “Friendship of Mount Ida – Kazdağları” with you, friends of life.

kazdaglari
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NOTE FROM KEDISTAN

Mount Ida, Kazdağları in Turkish, is a mountain range of and altitude of 1 774  meters, serving as the boundary to the region of Troy. Since July 26 2019, thousands of people have mobilised to protest a gold mining project carried out by a Turkish subsidiary of the Canadian firm,  Alamos Gold.

Ecologists have denounced this project for its destructiveness of a precious ecosystem and also warn against further environmental and sanitary disasters linked to the use of cyanid in order to extract the gold, thus polluting the lands, waterways and underground water reserves. Moreover, satellite images revealed that, as of beginning of August, bulldozers had already torn up over 195 000 trees, in other words, four times more than anticipated…

A petition demanding the immediate stop to this project has already received more than 500 000 signatures. You can also contribute, by following this link


Kazdaglari Alamos Gold

• Let’s start with the story of Friendship of Mount Ida. Why, where and how did you come together and what have you done so far?

Friendship of Mount Ida came together in order to protect and defend the life of all living beings against all attempts such as mines and power plants that may harm the ecosystem and natural cycle. Some of us have been living in different regions of Çanakkale for a long time and some of us for a few years. We were already friends before coming together as a collective. We decided to take action together after we attended the Public Information Meeting of Çamyurt Project, one of Alamos Gold’s other projects in the region. We do not have a history of ecological struggles as a collective, but we have taken part in other struggles as individuals before. There is a lot of information on this matter, a lot has been done about different related problems before. There are a lot of companies here. Comprehending these information and understanding our current situation was critical to determine our course of action. So this shaped our process a little bit actually. Determining which ways we are going to follow for legal struggle in order to reveal the abuse of rights, building our own peaceful action methods, contacting and communicating with the others both in Turkey and worldwide to create a solidarity network for our movement and ultimately making our voices heard can be summarized as what we have done so far.

• Do you have any similarities with Friendship of Alakır Valley? Could you tell us a little bit about your communication with them and the work you’ve done together?

The ongoing process in Alakır is one of the most important struggles that inspired Friendship of Mount Ida by showing that it is possible to stand together and resist ecological destruction. Our friendship with them dates back before the beginning of our journey. Friendship of Alakır Valley has been following the process with us since we put ourselves forward for this struggle. Along with our similarities, we have differences arising from the differences in our processes. For example, differences between what to do about hydroelectric power plants and gold mines, the conditions of Mount Ida region, the necessity to communicate with the organizations that started the struggle in this region before us. On the other hand, as we mentioned, the experiences of Alakır and other movements were very important for us not to start over from scratch and to discover more easily what we would do. We have benefited from these and shaped our process according to our own conditions. We are constantly in communication with them and are in solidarity for what needs to be done to make our voices heard. You can find Alakır on our pages and us on theirs. Beyond these, we are one in the heart; our reasons, another world that we dreamed of, our beliefs, our defenses are one.

Kazdağları

• In which years did this domestic and foreign mine plunder started in Mount Ida and how did we end up experiencing the eco-breakdown of the day?

Eco-breakdown plans are not new. The licenses for Kirazlı Gold Mine was taken in 1987 by Tüprag Mining, the subcontractor of Eldorado Gold. In 1989, they sold %50 of their shares to Newmont and then Newmont left the licenses. Directore General of Mining tendered for a contact in 2002, Tech Resources took over and in 2004, with %40 of the shares, and Fronteer Development got involved. In 2004-2005, they made some drilling and in 2007, the first technical report was published. In this period the changes in the mining law helped them getting involved and investing in the area well. After that the process continued with Alamos Gold’s permits and Teck Cominco’s drilling. While this process was going on for Kirazlı, beginning from early 2000s, there has been a significant increase in the number of the projects throughout the Mount Ida region. So the map of this plunder began to emerge as of the 2000 and the changes of the mining law. The struggle of the movements in the region began in 2007. By the way, these dates are not a coincidence, we can say that the eco-breakdown we face today in many parts of Turkey has the similar chronology.

kazdaglari

• This new eco-breakdown wave in the world is based on plundering and marketing of the underground gold, gas and oil deposits with highly protected state support; especially in water and forest areas. What do you think brings this global ravenousness to this reckless extent?

In addition to talking about what companies are doing about it, it is important that we focus on what we do and how we live. We consume. We do not stake a claim on what we have and where we live. We are alienated to everything about our lives; from the food we eat to clothes we wear, from the technology we use to decisions made about our lives. There is demand, we are still demanding. We do this out of habit, unconsciously. We repeat what we have been taught… We often talk about the social media and the energy we use for the mining struggle, as we question many things over and over again. The cost of a wedding ring is 20 tons of mining waste, is that the proof of the commitment of two people? We are the ones who give this opportunity to this global ravenousness. We need to change. What brings this to this reckless extent is the consumption frenzy; it is the fact that we do not take care of our commons, that we forget that the will for our lives belongs to us. On the other hand, everything is very explicit when we look at the capital. We are trying to deal with competitive companies that we are not able to comprehend the value of the zeros of the shareholder values. All the legitimate means of the system are used to regenerate itself; education, media, jobs we have to work to meet the needs for living etc. We are talking about applying for abuse of rights to governments in legal struggle but they are actually the other actors of this business. Living beings in the places where the big companies in league with governments exploit are paying the price of their profit.

Next target for Alamos Gold: Çamyurt

• How did the legal and de facto struggles of the people living in Mount Ida against to the eco-breakdown projects belong to Alamos Gold and its derivatives, the foreign hand of the gold plunderers who ransacked the region has an impact on this ultimate resistance today? What attitude did Friendship of Mount Ida have in the course of this struggle?

The struggle in the region has a long-terme history as we have mentioned before. Beside of the ongoing project applications and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) processes, there are annulment suits won by the organizations in here, many example cases that were stopped in the beginning of the EIA processes; in public information meetings or in Committee of Inspection and Evaluation Meetings. Recently, de facto struggle in Kirazlı has had a great impact on the stopping of Havran Demirtepe Gold Mine Project again in the region. Although the unlawfulness at this point is terrible, the history of the legal struggle of the Kirazlı Gold-Silver Mine Project is one of these examples as well. This project was stopped by the decision of the Council of State. What happens next is highly controversial, but we think it is important that the legal struggle continues. Not everyone has the same opinion and does not have to adopt the same methods, so the law, at least to bring out abuse of rights and to resist in this respect, is a very unifying ground. Of course, this ground had a major impact on the formation of the ultimate resistance potential of today. Friendship of Mount Ida has pursued the legal struggles that was going on since the day we came together and where necessary, endeavored to share the flow of information and tried to spread the word on this side of the struggle. Actually we also took place in almost all of this de facto actions as well. Besides, of course, we have our own action and legal strategies.

Kazdağları

• Where do you think this process will evolve?

We hope that ecology movement in Turkey will gain another acceleration with this movement. We already joined hands with most of the ongoing struggles in here. We have been following and communicating with the social/ecological movements related to this issue worldwide since the beginning. At one point, we were expecting, after a long patient silence this wave also reflects in Turkey. Today there are Salda, Fatsa, Alakır, Northern Forests, METU, Mount Munzur, and Mount Murat, Sinop, Cerattepe and unfortunately many other struggles in this land. We believe that these struggles, each initiated by their own power in their own locality, will be stronger together. Together we are quite confident that our voices will be louder and we are full of hope for an achievement. However, on the other hand, the dimensions of the plunder are terrible, new applications and new plans are being made by ignoring these struggles. Perhaps, the fact that we find such a strong voice is an opportunity for the public to talk about this issue seriously and to realize that the struggle is a defense of life in supra-political level.

• In trans-national level, how does Friendship of Mount Ida reality and resistance interact with other similar areas of resistance in the world? For example, do you have any contact with the Greek friends on the opposite side of Dardanelles (friends who resist against to the international muggers like Eldorado Gold who plundered Greek forests and waters, poisoned with cyanide)?

In fact, most of the companies that the struggles face are the same. Generally only the second contractor companies in local areas are changing. For example, one of the places Alamos Gold destroyed with very serious accidents was Mulatos mine in Mexico. Eldorado Gold is in Uşak, Turkey as well as in Greece. We are in contact / trying to contact with the struggles in many parts of the world. There is a network for anti-mining struggles called Yes to Life No to Mining, we communicate with this network. The heart of the mining sector beats in Canada, although they are not directly affected by this sector, there are really important anti-mining movements and networks in Canada which communicates with local struggles around the world. We are in solidarity with them. We had contact with our friends in Greece at the beginning of the story but we have not created a common agenda yet, but we are trying to establish a connection again in the current process. We have relations with activists and local movements from many country but the process in here is really complicated right now and the resistance just gained acceleration, so the answer to the question of what we can do together will be determined in progressive aspects.

ecologie kazdaglari

Have you ever thought about creating a coordination with Hambi insurgents who have been resisting for years against RWE Energy Company which loots the Hambach forest for coal?

We closely follow Hambi insurgents. We tried to contact them several times but we haven’t been able to communicate yet. They have a lot of things to do and follow as much as we do so it is normal. Of course, we need to reach them for the idea of establishing a coordination. Such an idea has not been created yet.

• What are the concrete demands of Friendship of Mount Ida?

First of all, we ask the Governorship of Çanakkale and the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning to determine the number of trees cut in violation of EIA report, stop the operation which is also in violation of EIA immediately and impose legally necessary sanctions for the Kirazlı Gold-Silver Mine Project. However, there are 40 more metallic mining projects in the region, which 27 of them are gold mines. This is an irreversible destruction for Mount Ida region. In their statements, the institutions argue that the mining area is far from Mount Ida. Mount Ida region is a unique forest and mountain ecosystem. It is an incredible region in terms of cultural heritage with thousands of years of history. We want these plundering projects to be stopped and the entire region declared as a protected area.

• Is there anything else you want to add?

Mount Ida regions is not the only region which suffers from this eco-breakdown. Each and every local struggle has to make their voices louder. The impact of the mining industry on this crisis should be examined in more detail in these days when the global climate crisis is on the agenda. Solidarity should increase. In the continuation of the resistance, they will want to politicize and provoke this issue both locally and globally. We defend that this is related to our lives and is a matter of supra-politics. We have no claim for any ideological purposes, our only concern is our right to life. It’s the only thing we want everyone to know. We would like to express that we are sincerely thankful to all the defenders of life who are in solidarity and who stand together with us by hearing our voices.

Kazdağları / Mount Ida belongs to us all !
Don’t touch my tree!


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Sadık Çelik
REDACTION | Journaliste | Gazeteci

Photographe activiste, libertaire, habitant de la ZAD Nddl et d'ailleurs.
Aktivist fotoğrafçı, liberter, Notre Dame de Landes otonom ZAD bölgesinde yaşıyor, ve diğer otonom bölge ve mekanlarda bulunuyor.
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Sadık Çelik

REDACTION | Journaliste | Gazeteci Photographe activiste, libertaire, habitant de la ZAD Nddl et d'ailleurs. Aktivist fotoğrafçı, liberter, Notre Dame de Landes otonom ZAD bölgesinde yaşıyor, ve diğer otonom bölge ve mekanlarda bulunuyor.

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