Turkey’s state-run TRT censors child calling attention to controversial gold mine project

Turkish state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) has censored comments by a young girl calling attention to the environmental risks associated with a controversial gold mine project in Turkey’s northwest.

Children's station TRT Çocuk cut short a live phone call with a nine-year-old girl as she began to address the construction of a gold mine to be run by Canada-based intermediate gold producer Alamos Gold in Turkey’s north-western Çanakkale province, news website Gazete Karınca reported on Saturday.

“I want to say one thing. There is a great deal of damage being inflicted on our Kaz Mountains...’’ the girl said, before the host of the programme quickly thanked her and ended the conversation.

Ecological activists and environmental groups have launched a campaign against the construction of the gold mine, which they say is bound to damage one of the most significant biodiversity hotspots in Turkey. Thousands marched to the site of the project on Monday.

Over 195,000 trees have already been felled for the project, quadrupling the foreseen number in the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (ÇED) while a reported 20,000 tonnes of cyanide, a toxic substance that can be deadly in case of spills or leaks, will be used in the mine.

Tuncay Özkan, a deputy for the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), criticised state-run TRT on Twitter, saying, “They don’t even have tolerance for the words of a child!’’

Host of the programme Gözde Çevik released a statement following the barrage of criticism she received on social media, stressing that a children’s programme is not a platform for political discussions.

“We are not going to be a part of your daily debates,’’ Çevik said.