Prominent musician pens open letter to UNESCO over gold mine project in northwest Turkey

Internationally renowned musician and a former UNESCO goodwill ambassador Zülfü Livaneli on Saturday wrote an open letter to UNESCO, calling on the Director-General to take urgent action against the construction of a gold mine in Turkey’s north-western Çanakkale province.

Canada-based intermediate gold producer Alamos is planning to mine gold in the Kaz Mountains (or Mount Ida, as mentioned in Homer’s Iliad) using cyanide, a toxic substance that can be deadly for animals and humans in case of spills or leaks. A reported 20,000 tonnes of cyanide will be used in the mine.

Alamos has been wreaking havoc in the area as it prepares for the construction of a gold and silver mine. Over 195,00 trees have been felled, four times the amount indicated in the environmental impact assessment report approved by the ministry (ÇED) to make way for the mineral tenure.

"It saddens me to let you know that a Canadian firm has cut almost 200.000 trees here recently and that they are planning to extract gold by using cyanide, which will destroy this beautiful paradise," Livaneli said.

Ecological activists and environmental groups have rolled up their sleeves against the mine following the destruction and the planned mine's future damages. 

Grassroots environment activist group Kazdağları Kardeşliği (“Kaz Mountains Fraternity”) has launched a “Water Watch” demonstration in the mine site. 

Support demonstrations have been announced by activist groups in Istanbul as well, with chambers under the Union of Turkish Chambers of Engineers and Architects (TMMOB), pro-Kurdish left-wing group Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) and grassroots activist groups including Northern Forests Defence issuing calls for action for a demonstration in Istanbul.

"Despite the protests of millions of people, the company continues with its project," Livaneli said. "It is an insult to the tangible and intangible heritage of our world."

The prominent musician said he is aware that UNESCO has limited enforcement power on such matters, yet asked for the body's help to create international public awareness.