Fazil Say, Turkey’s world-renowned pianist and composer, has given a concert in the country’s northwestern Turkish province of Canakkale to protest against foreign-owned gold mine project near the town of Kirazli, the T24 news portal reported on Sunday.
Owned by Dogu Biga Mining, the Turkish subsidiary of the Canadian owned Alamos Gold Inc., the project has drawn public condemnation following the alleged cutting down of 195,000 trees.
TEMA, a Turkish charitable group focusing on forestry, said that the company earlier announced in an environmental impact report that they planned to only cut down 46,000 trees.
An activist also claimed that cyanide, which could contaminate the soil and water in a nearby dam, will be used to extract gold as part of the Alamos project.
The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government of President Recep Tayyip has denied that cyanide will be used in the extraction of the gold.
The denial comes despite the company’s website stating that “a dilute cyanide solution will be applied to the crushed ore over 90 days”.
The AKP government has also rejected allegations that the gold mine will damage the environment.
Thousands of environmental activists and protesters on July 26 launched the “Watch for Water and Conscience” in the site of the mining project.
They have been staging events and demonstrations to protest against the deforestation for the construction of a cyanide gold mine with dozens of environmentalists have been sleeping in tents in the area.
According to a report by Gonca Tokyol from T24, tens of thousands of Turks, as well as a number of activists from around the world, attended the piano recital of Say on Sunday, the 24th day of the protest.
The composer showed his support for the protest for the first time on social media on August 4, saying that he is “ready to do all that he can do.”
On the next day, Say informed the public about the concert he plans to give on August 18 and added that he will perform a special anthem he composed to protest the gold mine project for the first time during Sunday’s event.
“I’m so excited and happy to see such a massive crowd of intellectuals, who gathered here today in order to preserve nature. I’m very proud of the Turkish people today,” Say said at the beginning of his speech on Sunday.
Thanking especially those who came up with the idea of a concert at the site of the mine project, he added: “We have to support the living. That’s what music is also about. People from all around the world came to this concert. That’s a huge sacrifice.”
Say ended the concert with a performance of the Izmir March, a song that praises the victory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in the War of Independence.
Also speaking during the event, Ulgur Gokhan, Canakkale mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said that the project violates an ecosystem with its birds, squirrels, and trees.
“They are placing dynamite below us. For what? For a handful of gold! They make lives of next a few generations miserable,” Gokhan underlined.
A total of 36,122 mining, energy and other projects located on 246,257 hectares of woodland were approved by the AKP government between 2012 and 2017, the Foresters Foundation of Turkey said.