It has been 12 days since the “Water & Consciousness Watch” has been initiated against the gold mine activities carried out in the Balaban location of Kirazlı village in the Turkish province of Çanakkale. Çanakkale Deputy Mayor Mehmet İrfan Mutluay, and Chairman of Çanakkale City Council Environment Assembly Pınar Bilir, participated the protest and spoke to Fırat Can from dokuz8NEWS.

Çanakkale Deputy Mayor Mehmet İrfan Mutluay, who started his speech by thanking the people supported “their land and water” adding “after the massive attack on this habitat, the guard which started with 13 people, united 10 thousands of people after making it known by the public. I hope this rising voice, can be a ‘breath’ to everyone.”


Deputy Mayor Mutluay, who points out “they listed their demands on the 11th day of the action,” adding “we will continue our action until the company terminates its activities. Apart from that, there are 30 mining companies with a license in Kaz Mountains and Biga Peninsula. We know that if we surrender to a company, others will not continue. We have a mountain range that generates oxygen, water resources, endemic species and animals that live in the habitat of these mountains. We can not remain silent as a municipality. Therefore, we are here both juristically and actively as a municipality.”


Mutluay, who defends that they have been opposed to all kinds of environmental massacres as a municipality, expressing “I do not think it is right to consider that there are juristical neglect here. Because there is an environmental conflict that has been going on for 25 years which has been sued for nearly 60 cases, on the Biga Peninsula in Çanakkale. I am also an agricultural engineer and one of the attorneys for these cases. We have sued them about the cases for  metallic mining, thermal power plants and the use of agricultural areas for non-agricultural purposes. We have organized educational activities in villages and tried to inform the people. The gold mining companies have expelled us along with the peasants from the villages. We could not resist just by ourselves as a municipality.” Mutluay, who responded to the questions of dokuz8News that were on ‘how companies assumed so much power,’ implying “we have some assumptions; 865 million investment incentives for Eastern Biga Mining is an example. This is a 5th Region incentive. I wonder if I wanted to establish a dairy farm in Çanakkale today, would I be able to benefit from this incentive.” Chairperson of Çanakkale City Council Environmental Assembly, Pınar Bilir, has also shared the starting process of the watch and the way it proceeds, with dokuz8NEWS: “We have been against the environmental massacres in Çanakkale for years and tried to draw attention to the occurrence of mining sites that kill our nature around us, but unfortunately we could not impact the public opinion. We conducted technical investigations with the Aegean and Marmara Regional Municipalities Union and some non-governmental organizations and with the results of the research, we issued a press release in the city center, on July 19, 2019. We asked the mining company to leave the site within three days. We did not know what to do after three days, we decided to take an action similar to the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party CHP, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s 'Justice March', if there were no results, but in terms of creating a public opinion, we thought it was better to do the current watch and then, here we are. The area where we stand right now is a perfect spot to be seen from both sides of Çanakkale Çanyolu.”


Bilir continued her speech also about the possible results and current results of the environmental massacres, “the gold and silver mine to be built in Kaz Mountains is 30 km away from the city center and 14 km away from Atikhisar Dam which is the only drinking water source of Çanakkale. Atikhisar dam’s water collection reservoir is located in this area and fuelled with the streams passing through it. Any intended chemical treatment means that chemical wastes are going to be mixed with the water, which will be the end of the sources. They will also consume tons of water to process gold ore. So if we think that the water they need is consumed from our dam, ‘which means we do not use it at all’ that we sacrifice it to the company at the full occupancy rate of 3-4 years. They said they would not take water from us, they were building a new dam. In this case, this means the polluted water in the basin is going to affect two separate dams. We are also sacrificing on our rocks and soil, that are blasted to reach the ore. Due to the massacre of the forest, only mud was flowing from Sarı Streamlet which is located in the city center. We lost our rock and soil that were formed in millions of years, because of the trees that are cut down. Our land is mentioned as rocks and soil with nonprofitable value for these institutions.”


Bilir, mentioned that “they are here in the hope of winning the resistance” and added “we determined 4 articles on the way here. We want them to stop cutting the trees if they were still on operation, a trial for the institutions that caused this results to the land, stop all operations on the site of the construction, terminate the intense violation that exceeds the capacity of the Kaz Mountains, and we want their licenses to be canceled.”


Despite the Environmental Impact Assessment of the area that foresees “allowance for 45 thousand trees,” Canadian Company Alamos Gold is allegedly cutting 195 thousand trees, and still, the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry has claimed that this number was only about 13 thousand 400. Çanakkale Municipality and environmentalists have initiated a “Water & Consciousness Watch" because of incidents such as cutting down of trees in Kaz Mountains, cyanide admixture to the water, damage to the environment, and environmental massacre in Çanakkale. Translated by Atakan Hüyük