Locals, environmentalists fight cyanide use in Turkish Black Sea forest
FATSA – Doğan News Agency
The Altıntepe mining company began cutting trees on the 10-hectare area two months ago before starting operations to extract gold using cyanide. DHA PhotoEcologists and residents of the Black Sea district of Fatsa have begun standing guard around the clock to prevent a company from following through on plans to use cyanide in gold extraction on a 10-hectare forested area.
“Our battle is not for our own personal benefit, but an act of resistance against a massacre against nature,” said Yusuf Ertopçu, an environmentalist helping to keep guard at the tent locals have erected in Fatsa’s Yukarı Bahçeler neighborhood.
The company, Altıntepe, began cutting trees on the 10-hectare area two months ago before starting operations to extract gold using cyanide. The actions prompted fury on the part of the local populace, who erected a tent a month ago while hanging a banner at the site that said “No to cyanide.”
“Our goal here is to inculcate consciousness in and be together with the people. The resistance here will continue until the end. If necessary, we will embark upon a death fast,” Ertopçu said.
Fatsa-Ünye Nature Protection Platform member Metin Karaman accused the gendarmerie of attempting to intimidate those fighting against the company.
“The gendarmerie said, ‘You’re blocking the road. You’re committing a crime,’” Karaman said. “But we’re not committing a crime. [What we’re doing] is our natural and constitutional right. We’re not blocking the road. They said this to try and deter us and the villagers. Despite all the pressure, we’re continuing with our resistance, which is attracting more support with each passing day. We will not allow them to extract gold with cyanide. Even if it results in death, we will maintain our determination.”
The incident in Fatsa is the latest battle between locals and large companies around the country, many with ties to the government, who have been accused of gross environmental violations in the pursuit of profits to the detriment of residents and nature. The issue has been particularly acute in the Black Sea region, where companies have been attempting to construct hydroelectric power plants (HES) in protected natural reserves.