EOIN KELLY INTERVIEW
CAN BAŞKENT - EOIN KELLY
How did you first get involved in Ecotopia/Eyfa?
I attended Ecotopia 2000 in Finland. I heard about the camp from a random group email that arrivedin my inbox a few months previously. Before going to Finland I knew nothing about the organisation or the camp. It just seemdlike it couldbe a good place to meet like minded people and talk about the environment. I was in know way aware of the non hierarchical dimension to EYFA's organisation or that a lot of those in attendence would consider themselves anarchists.
What's your current relation with Ecotopia/Eyfa?
I am on the board of EYFA. My time expires next month. I have been on theboard for four years. The workload ofthe board is mimnimal. It just involves giving adviceto the volunteers workingin the office ... if and only if they ask for it.
You've been to many Ecotopias. Which ones were your favorite?
Funny enough I would say that the most recent in Turkey was my favourite. It wasn't the most organised, that was the Dutch one and it wasn't the biggest, that was the Irish one, and it wasn't the most exotic, that was the Ukranian one. What happened though was that the camp transformed over a couple of days from one that was not far removed from a rainbow gathering - minimal workshops and a lot of hanging out in the sun and beach - to one where the entire camp (except those who might have visa problems) mobilising to do actions against the construction of a nuclear power plant which were so effective (in publicity terms) that they got front page coverage in Turkish daily's and prompteda comment from the prime minister.
How did you find Ecotopia Sinop?
Oops I should have read all of the questions before answering them:-) Don't tell me the last question will be "Ignore the previos questions":-)
Anyway ... I definately enjoyed it. With Climate Camps taking place in the UK and Germany it appeared that Ecotopia would strugleto attract many full time activists, seasoned activists or those simply lookeing to be in the frontline of where the action is. In fact one german guy who cametoTurkey said that the reason he didn't go to the Klimakamp in Hamburg was that he needed a sun holiday after finishing his exams. None the less enough enough experienced activists did come tomake sure that good actions werw planned and executed. Besides the actions it was good to be in a place where alot of the community were behind the activists in their wish to see no nuclear plant built in the area or anywhere in Turkey for that matter. The number of workshops was few. In al previous ecotopias I had attended there would be at least five to ten workshops a day. The regular visits of the Jandarma to the camp were an "eye opener" for those of us who hadn't encountered such a branch of state apparatus before. Despite there being few workshops one local Turkish guy, a recent political scientist graduate, led some very insightful discussions on the formation of the Turkish State, relations with Greece, Bulgaria and Armenia and the internal minorities spefically the Kurds and the complications involved...
Did you take part in the action? Did you get arrested?
Yes and technically no. During the camp some people including me decided to organise an action. We did this independantly of the camy orgnaisers and without consulting them. In fact you could say that we had an idea and we asked some local Sinop people who were opposed to Nuclear Power in Turkey if they approved and would like to participate. Together we decided to organise a permanent picket or vigil outside the offices of the Turkish Atomic Energy Agenbcy (TAEK) in Sinop town centre protesting the then ongoing tendoring process for construction of a nuclear facility. On the Tuesday of the second week of the camp a group of five activists including two locals from Sinop and two foreigners began a vigil by holding a banner outside the TAEK. They lasted just 15 minutes before being removed to a local police station by the police. I was one of five people who began a second vigil about a half an hour later. We too suffered the same fate after about 15 mintutes. It was a busy street and lots of people would have seen what happened and so I imagine that word would have spread around the town fairly lively (if it was indeed uncommon for people to be taken off the streets.) Anyway we were released a few hours later after being fined 125 Turkish lira for "not obeying an order" and thus also told that we had not been arrested. Needless to say we will be appealing this fine. As far as our understading of Turkish law goes, we did not break any law in what we did. Nonetheless the police saw fit to remove us. We are fairly confident however that they had no right to do this! I was not involved in the actions that took place at the end of the camp where over 30 people were arrested for doing a die - in outside the local governors office protesting the same Nuclear plant tendoring proocess. No ecotopia I was ever at had as much impact as this action had. Very impressive. Hopefully it's not the last time i'll be in Turkey and even more important hopefully it did something positive for the local campaign!