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Gold mine campers remain vigilant as work continues

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Tuesday, April 22
The camp at Sakdrisi gold mine launched on April 14 is still underway. Campers have been working in shifts, walking around the area watching what the RMG Gold Company is doing to the 5,000 year-old mine, as they claim.

On April 19, protesters began raising the alarm as trucks started loading soil and driving it away. According to them, RMG has done such action before, but they said it was for roads. “But today we got up on another hill and recorded footage of them [workers] destroying the heritage area,” one of the protesters stated.

According to the protesters, they called the police, but they came only an hour later. “One of them was dressed in civilian clothes, and we could not produce any proof that they were from the police,” protesters said.

According to eyewitnesses, guards working for RMG Gold Company are protecting the area and people are not allowed in to see what is going on. Protesters are still staying in tents and patrolling the area near the mine.

Protesters wanted to camp on a hill, which would give them a better view to where the digging was taking place, but the guards tried to block their way, claiming that RMG Gold has a license to dig in the area. The guard hit one of the activists, and there were several verbal and physical confrontations. In the end, the activists did not leave the hill, but moved their tents there.

The protesters demanded to meet with Culture Minister Guram Odisharia and invited him to a talk show on Channel 1 TV. They wanted to tell him their demands, which are to not allow RMG Gold to damage the ancient gold mine, to let scholars and researchers study the site carefully and to wait until their conclusions are made public.

Protesters also demand to allow a TV crew from the Georgian Public Broadcaster into the Sakdrisi site to film what is going on right now.

The rally was organized by the youth movement Green First and supported by students and environmental activists. They call on the government to protect the mine, as RMG continues its excavation work.

The culture minister did not show up at the GPB studio building.

“I had some information, but I was on leave, and heard about everything only after coming back to the office. I already spoke to my staff and we will do everything that is possible,” Odisharia stated.

Former Deputy Minister of Culture Marine Mizandari stated that the rally will continue…