With banners that included “Freedom to Ierisso – Down with state terrorism”, thousands of Athenians responded to the call of the Halkidiki solidarity committee to take part in a demonstration against the planned gold mine in northern Greece on Tuesday evening.
The gathering was to show support for the people of the Thrace towns of Skouries and Ierissos, whose fight against the plans of Hellas Gold – 95% owned by Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold Inc – to open a gold mine and processing plant has become increasingly fraught.
Police sources said 1,500 joined the march, whilst protesters claimed some 3,000 were present.
In calling Athens to join the protests, the committee said the gathering would be “against state terrorism which, through all means, is seeking the completion of plans which will be catastrophic for the local community”.
It also said that the police have acted like “henchmen of the company … treating the protesters with unimaginable ferocity and violence.”
On March 7 there were extensive clashes between riot police and residents of Ierissos, who had formed a roadblock to stop police entering the town to search houses in relation to to a recent nighttime arson attack on the mine, which is under development.
Police made use of teargas in the clashes, with residents reporting that children at a local school were badly affected. One student reportedly suffered head injuries.
The police denied the claims that teargas was sprayed within the school yard.
There has long been opposition to the prospect of the Skouries gold mine, with some residents objecting to what they say will be the destruction of the environment and of pristine forest in the area, leading to the loss of tourism and other local activities such as farming, the rearing of livestock and fishing.