19th February 2016
For the last twenty five years people of Artvin, a border town between Georgia and Turkey, have been resisting against gold and copper mines. During these twenty five years, the resistance of Artvin has defeated two Canadian mine companies and sent them back home. Unfortunately, this legendary resistance is now under attack by not just mine companies, but government forces.
Earlier this week, people of Artvin have been attacked by police and gendarmerie, who are apparently following orders from a mine company: Cengiz Holding. This pro-government Cengiz Holding is a conglomerate that owns several construction, energy and mine projects that destroys the environment not just in Turkey but also in Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Armenia. Now, they have their hands on Cerattepe, Artvin.
Even though there are expert evidences which underline the damage that a mine would do in Artvin and even though there are court orders against it, on 16 February 2016 Cengiz Holding officials came to Artvin to destroy the forests to construct the mine.
There have been fierce protests by locals. For the last two days life has stopped in Artvin. Schools and shops were closed, people blocked the road to the construction site with their private vehicles. Artvin has a population of 25 thousand, 20 thousand of them were in protests. However, government forces were quick to succor Cengiz Holding. Support forces were brought in from six neighboring cities to Artvin and protesters were severely attacked by tear gas.
Cerattepe is the heart of Artvin. It is the only water supply of Artvin and it is very close to the city center. A mine would poison the water and the land; which would eventually force all inhabitants to migrate. Cerattepe is also vital to Batumi. For long years people of Artvin (Turkey) and people of Batumi (Georgia) shared their traditions, food, dance, music and language. It is for sure that a mine in Artvin will damage Batumi as well.
Cerattepe is life to Caucasus. The mine area is part of the endemic Caucasus forests; which is recognized as one of the 200 Global Ecological Regions.
Young Greens of Turkey and Georgian Young Greens are acting with solidarity against destruction of Cerattepe. We are calling for all of our friends in Caucasus; people of Turkey, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to rise up against this madness. We are calling all of our friends in Balkans and in Europe to stand with us and support life!