Socio-cultural mpact

The damage to the environment, air, water and soil pollution, destruction of historical sites and the impact of mining on tourism, largely undermine the lifestyle of local communities in Halkidiki. A region inhabited by farmers and fishermen for generations, is suddenly transformed into an industrial site, storing hazardous waste, heavy trucks, mining infrastructure, etc… It seems natural that local inhabitants would protest against this. Their way of life has to make way for the interests of an international company. The protest is not limited to local communities, since the region is a popular holiday resort for many Greeks.

With slogans like “we want forests, soil and water, not a grave of gold”, and ‘save the birth place of Aristotle”, in recent years thousands of people have come to the streets. Many cities in Greece have expressed solidarity with local residents affected by these plans. In 2013, solidarity events were organised in Lerissos with 12 000 participants, and in Thessaloniki where 35 000 were present. The local protests especially have become pretty rough. Unnecessarily high amounts of tear gas and rubber bullets have been used in homes and even in schools.

Protesters were initially ignored by the Greek media, but today they are rather portrayed as a minority of ‘eco-freaks’. The Greek police authorities criminalize protesters and portray them as terrorists. Extreme measures are being used, such as taking DNA-samples from residents, entering houses in the middle of the night to arrest people in front of their children, using tear gas in the streets and in school while classes are underway, interrogations without the presence of a lawyer, or an adult in the case of minors… There are even reports of abuse during these legal interrogations. Telephone conversations between locals and international journalists have been intercepted and used as legal material to accuse them of being members of a criminal organization.

All these violations of human rights have lead Amnesty International to ask the Greek government in October 2013 to start an independent investigation regarding the actions of the police.