Turkey: Mining is a crime against humanity and ecosystems

The Climate Justice Coalition in Turkey produced this important document regarding mining in Turkey and its effects on the environment and human society





We, as the components of the Climate Justice Coalition, experts in the field of mining, and ecology activists, gathered on April 20, 2024, at the Gazhane Climate Museum in Istanbul. We listened to nine speeches from experts and then discussed our solutions and proposals with six Working Groups on ecosystems, deforestation, public health, cultural and historical assets, wildlife, mining economy, legal context of the problem. To say what we will say at the end first; we are against all mining activities in Turkey and around the world that exploit the earth’s resources, disregard planetary life, and we will struggle to stop them.

We faced the wholesale disregard for the right to life of nature and human beings, who are a part of nature, with the autonomous mining legislation enacted in 2004. The greenhouse gas emissions in Turkey from energy production based on coal combustion were at the level of 164 million tons of CO2 equivalent in 2019. Compared to the 61 million tons of emissions in 1990, this figure represents a 168% increase. Until today, more than 50% of Turkey’s surface area has been closed with mining licenses. This situation continues with the newly invented “urgent expropriation.”

Urgent expropriation is a transfer of wealth to capital! It is a law of “war against society and nature.” Today, on the day we held the workshop, it was announced that 857 more parcels have been expropriated, and urgent expropriations continue as if taking advantage of the suffering of the people in the earthquake zone.

In 2006, 1500 people were poisoned by cyanide in Kışladağ, Uşak; in 2011, cyanide was leaked into the water supply at the Eti Silver facilities; collapses occurred in Afşin-Elbistan thermal power plant, and what happened in Gümüşhane, Kastamonu, Giresun, Artvin Cerattepe, Kaz Mountains, Madra, and Akbelen showed us once again that investment should be made in life, not in mining.

Preserving ecosystems and wildlife is vital!

Mining activities cause irreparable damage to soil, water, and ecosystems at every stage, including exploration processes.

Habitat fragmentation due to the opening/expansion of mining areas, damage to feeding and breeding systems of wildlife, and conflicts with the human species arising from wildlife being unable to meet their basic needs necessitate the cessation of mining activities. Biodiversity continuity, forest, soil, and water ecosystems must be preserved integrally.

Mining activities affect cultural assets as well as nature. The bypassing of conservation legislation and prioritizing mining law costs us our past; our memory is erased.

There is no “public interest” in mining activities. There is capital interest.

The massacre in İliç is caught red-handed!

On February 13, in Çöpler gold mine, which will become the largest gold mine in Europe if the planned capacity enhancement project is realized, despite all the warnings from the local people, scientists, and ecology activists, the toxic sludge called “waste heap” took nine workers from us, and the bodies of seven are still under those millions of tons of cyanide-laden soil. By carrying cyanide and other toxic chemicals to underground waters and the vital Euphrates River, which is the lifeline of Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, it poses a serious threat to the lives of both human and non-human beings.

The government that supports the capital’s desire to earn $2000-2200 per ounce by providing legal immunity and cheap labor is responsible for the İliç massacre. The Çöpler Gold Mine in İliç must be closed immediately. Also, we urgently request an independent investigation of the İliç massacre by national and international organizations recognized for their objectivity, and reporting by international health organizations. We call on everyone affected by the İliç massacre, that is, all of us, to file criminal and compensation lawsuits against responsible states and companies on an international scale.

Unfortunately, today in Turkey, there are 19 active gold mines, and 22 more are in the process of being established. At least 20 gold mines have been planned, licensed, and are waiting to be operational.

Despite all its glitter, gold is tainted with cyanide, blood, and tears. We do not want any extractivist activities, whether indigenous or multinational. As the villagers of Bergama say, “The dead do not wear gold.”

Capital is exploiting the world!

There are a total of 8,500 coal-fired power plants worldwide, causing one-third of the total global emissions with a total installed capacity of 2,000 terawatts.

Mining activities, which are expected to expand further under the guise of critical mining, pose a new wave of threat, especially to third world countries. The electric cars of the new green order work with 8-kilo lithium batteries, which are extremely harmful to flora and fauna, and “green” entrepreneurs who legitimize deforestation to expand their giant factories with these critical minerals are adding wealth to their wealth.

The war on and off the ground is ongoing! Ecocide is a crime!

Mining itself should be defined as a crime of ecocide. Nature is not a raw material or commodity. We will fight for the İliç massacre and all mining activities to be recognized as crimes against the planet through international solidarity.

We will not forget the ecocide crime in İliç, nor will we let it be forgotten. We will follow up on our Citizen Ecocide Law Proposal submitted to the Turkish Grand National Assembly to be enacted. We demand the seizure of Anagold company’s assets in İliç and the closure of the mine, and we want all possible ecological rehabilitation work to be done as soon as possible.

Justice will prevail!

The mining sector also disregards worker health. Miners, who face diseases such as silicosis, tuberculosis, and lung cancer due to exposure to chemicals, noise, etc., die more than workers in all other sectors. They work to death with low wages, without a union, and without providing job security and safety conditions.

Banks that fund brown industries and coal and mining incentives increase carbon emissions. But we do not see renewable energy as a solution. We do not want giant solar panels that kill the land they are built on forever, or wind turbines that slaughter birds.

Like ants, we are brothers and sisters of the earth, olives, and miners. We demand the abolition of mining incentives and tax breaks. We do not want an energy policy based on price and productivity but a real new green order where everyone’s right to live and work decently is recognized.

We know that there is no non-violent mining. What is violent is capitalism.

The Problem is Global, So is the Solution.

Long Live International Struggle and Solidarity!

Mining activities are not limited to our country, and Turkey’s mining exploration activities do not only affect us and the nature of this place. Deep-sea mining in the Mediterranean affects Greece and Cyprus; cyanide-laden water carried by the Euphrates affects Iraq and Syria; and the carbon we emit affects the entire planet. We aim to unite our struggles with the United States, Canada, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico, where SSR Mining, the main partner of Çöpler Gold Mine, conducts its other operations, and with Greece and Romania, where Eldorado Gold conducts its mining activities. We will make every effort to internationalize our anti-mining struggle starting from our neighbors. Greetings to all anti-mining struggles worldwide!

Establishment of the Mining Prevention and Monitoring Working Group (MPMWG)

Our workshop, as experts and ecology activists from different disciplines, set out to establish a Working Group that goes beyond the Climate Justice Coalition. This structure;

Will not forget the ecocide crime that occurred in İliç, will struggle for the closure of the mine, will follow up on national and international criminal and compensation lawsuits,

Will conduct regular inspections in mining areas and provide regular information to the public about the concrete damage caused by mining,

Will fight for new legal regulations that include ecological protection,

Will ensure the participation of not only local people but also the whole society in anti-mining struggles,

Will work on the damages suffered by human, nature, and animal health with a single health perspective,

Will consider the protection of culture, memory, and the past as part of ecological-social struggle, and will preserve “the memory of the earth”,

Will collaborate with all anti-mining struggles experiencing the same problem on the planet,

Will build solidarity in unnatural disasters.

Ban the use of cyanide!

Stop all mining activities!

Life over mines!

Climate Justice Coalition, Turkey

W: https://iklimadaletikoalisyonu.org/

X: @iklimadaleti_k

 E-mail: iklimadaletikoalisyonu@gmail.com

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