Bergama's Wealth

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There was a peaceful life in Bergama until an Australian gold company (Eurogold) came over and offered wealth to Turkey. In 1992, the Company got the mining permission from the Ministry of Energy without the villagers' acknowledgement. Then 652 people, whose aim was to make them cancel the license given to Eurogold Company, or to alter the claim that using cyanide in gold mining is not dangerous, applied to Izmir Administrative Court. But, the local court gave the decision in favor of the Company.

After that the people applied to the Court of Appeals. But the Company did not wait for the decision. Because of the still continuing support and encouragement of the statesmen, they did not care about the condition of being honest businessmen. They did not pay attention to any warning, neither showed any respect to the law or public opinion; and went into a hard construction process.

They said 'Ankara (the Government) allowed us. We don't care about your State.' They paid 2$ per tree; and cut down more than 2350 trees.

Local people rebelled. 500 people sat on the highway for hours. No authority could make them give up. Under heavy rain, they organized a meeting called 'Enough is Enough'. They walked on the streets half naked. They delivered documents and walked, this time in shrouds. Thousands of them gave petition for the women who lost their babies before they were born, as a result of the dynamite explosions in the mining area. 2866 villagers held a referendum and opposed to gold mining by real cyanide. They went to Lefke in Cyprus to make investigations in the minefields. They hosted the Volkswagen owners who came to Bergama from all around Turkey. They hosted the people who walked whole night from Izmir to Bergama with torches in their hands. They helped people who came there from several universities to film documentaries. They gained the support of public and various institutions from all around Turkey and out of Turkey. They went to Ankara, to the Parliament; left 50.000 signs and came back. They stopped Ministry of Mine on his way. And in the end, they couldn't stand more and entered the mining area. The governor of Izmir closed the mine for a month to set the peace in the region. He was using the authority given him by the article 5442 of city administrating law. And in the end, the Court of Appeals gave the long-waited big decision. According to the breaking decision, the construction process would be stopped. Nevertheless, the company neglected the decision and went on. The villagers agreed on waiting for a month that means until July 27th of 1997. They were sober; but they showed that their willingness to resist did not decrease. They danced around the minefield like Indians half naked and with their faces painted. They came to Izmir to give petition to the governor. They had borrowed their school boys' neckties. They sent thousands of telegraphs to Ankara. They joined a press conference where the Australian Ambassador was forced to run away by Bergama villagers. In this conference the Ambassador had implied that the rebels were not a threat to the mine and the Turkish government was just exaggerating the security measures. From May 27th 1997 to June 27th 1997 at 17:31, that means for 30 days the local people were still waiting for the Court's decision's to be put into practice. They also hoped to see the good people, animals and plants of Turkey and of the world on their side. They wanted them to support and encourage Bergama people, to force the chain link fences and sing songs together. On June 26th-27th, Turkish and German scientists including the author of Environmental Impact Assessment Report, published a SCIENTIFIC DECLARATION. In this declaration, the use of the CYANIDE method of chemically obtaining gold was rejected. Izmir City Coordination Committee of Turkish Engineers and Architects Association concluded the debate scientifically declaring 'The goldmine cannot be constructed in Bergama Ovacik'. Beginning from May 27th after 17:31, 4000 villagers surrounded the mine for two days. During the interviews with the governorship, we observed that the governor had ordered not to prevent the dynamite explosions in the region. It was understood that the Governor was under pressure; and therefore he was not able to use the authority of setting peace in the region given to him by the article 5442 of City Administration Law. Considering that a new government was to be set up, we all agreed on waiting for two weeks. By this time, the new government's approach would be clear. On the other hand, we stated to the company and to the public that in case of Eurogold Company's not obeying the decision, we would have self-defense right. And then, in the end, the Court of Appeals gave the last approval decision. We were informed about it on April 17th 1998 and the Ministry of Environment on April 28th. As the defendant side, Mr. Aykut made it clear to the public that they would not use their amendment right in this 15 day-legal period, which means that the final decision would be made on May 11th. But still, it did not mean that the trial had ended. Until June 11th, the State could again behave unreasonably and unjuridicially with the excuse of reconsidering the event. Or any time the state could make this statement through its ministries and governorships: 'The Company decided to mine gold in Dikili (a town located 100 km north of Izmir) instead of Bergama and applied again to the Ministry for a new permission. And this time German and French scientists produced a terrific Environmental Impact Assessment Report. Indeed, our Minister of Energy has already gone to Canada, and the day before yesterday to Paris. Now it is possible to lessen the danger of cyanide by adding salt, sugar and yoghurt to it. We allowed or will allow them again...'