in English

Skouries: When local communities are put on trial

On March 1st 2015, the three-member Council of Judges of the Misdemeanor Court of Halkidiki issued an indictment for the Skouries case. According to the indictment, twenty one individuals are to appear in the Felony Appeal Court of Thessaloniki – all facing heavy charges among which are the formation of a criminal organization, attempted manslaughter, and robbery.

The indictment wholly adopts the security police account of the events at Skouries, while the District Attorney fully accepts the reasoning of “Hellas Gold” and the Canadian Eldorado Gold Corp. with reference to the legality of the company’s mining operations. Furthermore, the indictment attempts to associated local inhabitants’ protest -in whichever form- against gold mining with the operation and activity of a criminal organization. Will this obsession with criminal organizations continue to persist when it is proven that “Hellas Gold” is destroying the land and has consciously violated laws and rules?

The judges’ decision was announced a few days after one of “Hellas Gold” permits and approvals for the construction of the processing plant in Skouries were revoked, in order to be reinspected. It should be also noted that the two recent decisions of the Council of State regarding appeals against the approval of “Hellas Gold’s” EIS were issued immediately following the new government’s policy statements calling for a reevaluation of “Hellas Gold” permits, while the appeals had been heard in court in June 2012.

The timing involved in the issuing of the above decisions leads to a number of legitimate questions. Is it a coincidence that decisions which have been reached a long time ago -and which target the social movement against gold mining- are announced immediately following the challenge to “Hellas Gold’s” credibility and legality? Given the fact that these decisions create a situation which affects the social and political climate, is it not reasonable for one to think that the choice of these decisions’ timing serves purposes beyond the investigation of truth and the administering of justice?

We have learned how to struggle against all odds. We endured throughout the state repression of governments who followed the dogma of “furthering investments at all costs”. We endured throughout the attempted criminalization of our struggle. We endured throughout the time when our substantiated and documented charges against a plethora of “Hellas Gold” violations were ignored by the state inspection mechanisms. We endured when court decisions put the economic interests above the destruction of our land and our right to defend our lives.

Our fellow citizens -and companions in this struggle- who are under prosecution shall be tried with the whole of society at their side. In these trials, the whole of society shall be sitting in the court’s judgment seat. And societies cannot be put on trial. Because social struggles are neither legal, or illegal. They are just!

Coordinating committee of Ierissos
against gold mining