MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Urgent Action on Behalf of Greek Citizens over TVX

Published by MAC on 2002-04-27

Urgent Action on Behalf of Greek Citizens over TVX

This is an urgent request from Hellenic Mining Watch and Global Response to support the 800 inhabitants of Stratoniki, Greece, whose houses are being undermined by TVX.
The situation is really critical and any international help would be much appreciated.

Please support the people of Stratoniki!

Please forward this mail widely!

Thank you,

Maria Kadoglou
Hellenic Mining Watch


Citizens from the village of Stratoniki in northeastern Greece have contacted us asking for assistance to stop the dangerous and destructive mining that is being conducted immediately under their town. Despite the opposition of the majority of local people and their officials, the Greek government has given permission to the Canadian company TVX, to continue mining. These activities have already caused the land surface to collapse in several places, cracking houses. Because the area is underlain by extremely active geologic faults, such mining has the potential for truly significant harm to property and human lives.

All formal opposition to the mining by the citizens and their local officials has met with no success so far. Thus, they recently conducted public demonstrations, which were violently quelled by an outside police force sent in by the central government. Numerous local citizens have been arrested and charged with serious offenses in a clear attempt to prevent further demonstrations and to allow mining to proceed.

Please support these citizens in their attempt to have their voices heard and to gain some local control over their environment and their lives. We ask that you send e-mails, faxes, and letters by May 10, 2002, to the Greek government officials and TVX officers listed below, requesting the following: Given the obvious dangers to the citizens of Stratoniki, we ask that TVX immediately stop mining under the village and not be allowed to continue any such mining operations without their formal consent. We also ask that the citizens’ struggle for the protection of their village not be penalized and all charges against them be dropped.

A sample letter containing additional details on the situation in Stratoniki and the names of officials to whom your correspondence should be addressed follows. Due to the time constraints, we suggest that emails or faxes would be the best way to communicate your wishes.

Thanks for your support for the people of Stratoniki.


SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear Prime Minister,

RE : TVX Hellas mining activities under Stratoniki

We wish to express our concern about the mining activity of TVX Hellas S.A. under the village of Stratoniki, Halkidiki. This company is undermining the safety and security of the village and its inhabitants, causing damage to houses and drying up the area’s water resources. Tension in the village is mounting and the first violent incidents between the protesting residents and the police force that is protecting TVX have already taken place.

For the past two years, TVX has been mining the Mavres Petres mine, most of which is located directly underneath Stratoniki, despite the unanimous opposition of its inhabitants and the municipal and prefecture councils. Activity at the same mine by the previous mine operator had caused extensive land subsidence and the destruction of a number of homes and a church. On February 15, the Deputy Minister of Development, Alexandros Kalaphatis, granted TVX an official permit allowing for the continuation of mining operations under the village.

Current blasting has caused severe cracks in the walls of houses and the community church. Furthermore, the village is located in an active seismic zone and the villagers fear that the existence of the underground adits would magnify the effects of an earthquake. Though it is true that a group of experts from the National Technical University of Athens which evaluated the company’s technical study said that mining does not entail any risks for the village, their report clearly states that this evaluation was based solely on the information provided by TVX.

Villagers claim that the underground environment of Stratoniki, has not been sufficiently studied and that the danger to their lives and homes is real. This fact is acknowledged even in one of the studies carried out for TVX in 1995, which states: “there is considerable danger that any further mining activity in this area could lead to large scale destruction of property and risk human lives”. The same study stresses that the extent and gravity of the problems caused by previous mining in the area is unknown.

Last week a surface collapse occurred over the newly mined area, which TVX Hellas refuses to acknowledge while continuing its operations 24 hours a day.

For more than a month the villagers have been protesting daily against the operation of the mine. A strong police force was sent into the village to protect TVX from the residents, whose protest however has always been peaceful. On Tuesday, May 16, four protestors were arrested for no obvious reason, and were sentenced to 8 months imprisonment each for resisting arrest. This event has led to anger expressed by the residents, resulting in a violent reaction by the police. As a result, one policeman and 4 residents of Stratoniki, including an 80-year old man and a 75-year old woman, were injured.

Also, legal charges are brought against the citizens of Stratoniki, a strategy clearly designed to end their protests. So far, more than 35 citizens have been charged with “obstructing traffic” in more than 60 individual cases and the number keeps increasing. The first trial dates have been set for May 23 and June 7.

Given the obvious dangers to the citizens of Stratoniki, we ask that TVX immediately stop mining under the village and not be allowed to continue any such mining operations without their formal consent. We also ask that the citizens’ struggle for the protection of their village not be penalized and all charges against them be dropped.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,


Addresses/Fax/Email:

Emails, faxes and letters should be sent to the following individuals and addresses, with copies sent to: kadoglou@otenet.gr

Constantinos Simitis
Prime Minister of Greece
Office address : Herodou Attikou 19
10674 Athens, Greece
Fax : +3 010 6715799
E-mail: mail@primeminister.gr

Apostolos-Athanasios Tsohatzopoulos
Minister of Development
Mailing address : Mihalakopoulou 80, Athens, Greece
Fax +3 010 7788279
E-mail: grafyp@ypan.gr

T. Sean Harvey, President and CEO
TVX Gold Inc.
220 Bay Street, Suite 1200
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5J 2W4
Phone: 416 366 8160
Fax: 416 366 8163
E-mail: sharvey@tvxgold.com

John Reisbeck, CEO
TVX Hellas S.A. – Hellenic Gold
Stratoni, Chalkidiki
Greece
E-mail: catpap@tvx.gr

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