By Heidi Trautmann
On the occasion of the International Environment Day on
June 05, 2021, I was invited by representatives of ÇADER (Çatalköy Development and
Culture Organisation) to be present in the Lefke area at the
local protest action, and with Martin
Marancos and Sevilay Ramadan we enjoyed a lovely car ride to Gemikonaği where
we met with the representatives of other Environmental Associations. The Lefke
area is very dear to me for its special atmosphere of rich nature and for the
encounters and talks I had with artists, writers, and others.
We all met at the CMC Mine in Gemikonaği (Karravostasi), enclosed with high fencing all around
2000 acres of land where ten million tons of mine waste belonging to CMC company is dumped.
In addition, there are approximately two million tons of mine waste also in other
places in Gemikonağı and Lefke.
year, environmental associations get together to protest against the pollution
of the area through the dangerous waste and to remind the governments in the
North and in the South to find a solution for this problem endangering the
health of man, nature, the economy in general and tourism.
to some people from various organizations and received some information but I
am afraid that it is not done and covered with just one article as the
situation has a long history.
far gathered information I can share here.
protest action organized by the Environmental Society of Lefke was
supported by the Xeros-Karavostasi Development Society, the Lefke
Tourism Society, by ÇADER, the Çatalköy Development and Culture
Organisation and by CESF, the Cyprus Environmental Stakeholders Forum.
the other organisations are rooted locally, the CESF is a bi-communal platform,
registered in Brussels, founded to combat the island’s environmental problems
together with both the Cypriot communities. We were pleased to show our support
for this very important issue of mining pollution, both from past facilities
and existing facilities.”
Furthermore, I was given some details with regard to the background of
the organising association, which was founded in 1995. Ahmet Hizli sent a translation and Martin
Marancos from ÇADER edited the text.
“The Environmental Society of Lefke was founded in 1995.
The purpose of the establishment of our association is the environmental
pollution in the Lefke region, especially the damage caused by the CMC mine
waste. Until today, we have conducted several successful actions, these include
the prevention of a Fuel Storage Facility in the area, collecting waste oil for
recycling, stopping the dumping of this used oil into the land fill above the
village of Lefke. Further, we have been able to prevent planned heavy metal
mining and other mining activities.
Our association organizes various activities and acts to solve the
environmental problems not only in Northern Cyprus but also in Southern Cyprus.
We especially attach importance to bi-communal environmental activities and
organize informative seminars on joint actions with environmental associations
in Southern Cyprus. Our work is also followed and supported by the European
In front of the gate
to the mine waste dump area, the groups and association gathered with their
banners and the representatives were interviewed by BRT 1, a local radio and TV
station, in order to make their protest public and bring it to the attention of
The groups then moved to the Apliç (Apliki) crossing to draw the public attention
– again recorded by BRT 1 - to the current mining operations there, just over
the border in the Southern part, affecting both communities. For reasons of the Pandemic, the friends of
the cause from the South could not participate in this year’s activity.
Apparently, there is
one deal in the air between the Government and the still active Mines in the
South to sell the 10 million tons waste from Gemikonaği to them to be
‘purified’, i.e. the residue of 0.01 – 0.02 % of copper content would be
extracted, and the rest of the waste, approx. 95% would be returned to Gemikonaği.
Just to imagine the moving of 10 million tons, the air pollution…. The
Environmental Society of Lefke together with all other associations are against
this deal … and in my eyes, it is against all reason and common sense.
The dangerous waste
situation has been researched and illuminated from many scientists, journalists,
writers and environmentalists, but also by a well known artist in Cyprus, Inci
Kansu, whom I had the pleasure to interview for my artbook “Art and Creativity in North Cyprus, Volume
I” where she told me about her project ‘CUPRUM’, a project which took her eight
years of research in situ and which she realized as an art installation of a
stunning and impressive beauty and value, a warning monument for her country.
I sincerely hope that
the associations’ warnings and protests will carry fruit and that they will
find the proper solution for this decades long sad environment story.