Greek police react brutally to anti-goldmine protests
A couple of weeks ago I posted about the ongoing battle to save a local environment and community in Chalkidiki, northern Greece from the ravages of a Canadian-owned gold mining project.
This morning (Thursday) police responded violently at a demonstration against the arrest of 5 people suspected of participating in an arson attack at the Hellas Gold site in Skouries village last month. Police used tear gas against demonstrators, reportedly even firing a cannister directly into the head of a 15 year-old high school student.
[…] police spokesman Christos Manouras denied allegations police had fired tear gas in the village. He said chemicals were only used to clear a roadblock preventing police from reaching the village.
In direct contradiction of the above statement by the police, several high school students and teachers phoned into radio stations, claiming that tear gas was not only used in the village of Skouries, but on the grounds of a the local school in the neighboring village of Ierissis. One student phoned into radio SKAI 100.3, recounting how 4 gas cannisters were thrown into the school courtyard. A photographer has also posted photos via Twitter clearly showing tooled up riot police wearing gas masks as well as empty tear gas cannisters found on site.
A number of children were affected by the gas, a former mayor for the area said. Michalis Vlachopoulos also told Skai TV that one student suffered a head injury.
Other sources report that armed police have raided several suspect’s homes in Ierissis and are intimidating local residents in order to quash any protests, thus making way for the gold mining project.
The mining project, if allowed to progress, risks destroying the local environment by contaminating the air and water sources with poisons such as mercury, arsenic and cyanide. The damage to the fishing, farming and tourism industries could be catastrophic for the ecosystem and local livelihoods. Moreover, despite potential jobs from the mine, the Skouries project would mostly benefit Hellas Gold, which is 95% Canadian-owned, as well as garner a mere 10% of revenue tax for the Greek state.
For live Twitter updates (in English) on the situation scroll down to the bottom of the enetenglish.gr article.