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There was only one Hasankeyf and Kurds let it be destroyed

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Re: There was only one Hasankeyf and Kurds let it be destroy

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:46 pm

Turkey's ancient valley lost

There was something exceptional about Hasankeyf that made visitors fall in love with the town on first sight

Graced with mosques and shrines, it lay nestled beneath great sandstone cliffs on the banks of the Tigris River. Gardens were filled with figs and pomegranates, and vine-covered teahouses hung over the water.

The golden cliffs, honeycombed with caves, are thought to have been used in Neolithic times. An ancient fortress marked what was once the edge of the Roman Empire. The ruins of a mediaeval bridge recalled when the town was a wealthy trading centre on the Silk Road.
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Now it is all lost forever, submerged beneath the rising waters of the Ilisu Dam, the latest of president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s megaprojects, which flooded 100 miles of the upper Tigris River and its tributaries, including the once-stunning valley

I visited the area repeatedly with photographer Mauricio Lima for half a year to witness the disappearance of the valley unfold in slow motion. The steadily expanding reservoir displaced more than 70,000 anguished inhabitants. Unexplored archaeological riches were swallowed up along with farms and homes.

The waters have rendered Hasankeyf an irretrievable relic of the bygone civilizations that had been similarly drawn to the beauty of the valley, carved over millenniums by one of the Middle East’s greatest rivers.

When Erdogan turned on the first turbine of the hydroelectric dam, celebrating the project’s completion in May, the president had his eye on more immediate concerns but also on future glories, promising that it would bring peace and prosperity to southeastern Turkey.

“The wind of peace, brotherhood and prosperity that will blow from the Ilisu Dam will be felt in these lands for centuries,” he told the ceremony via video link.

The dam would contribute billions to the economy and irrigate thousands of hectares of farmland, he said.

Government officials have emphasised that hydropower offers their greenest option when they decided to push ahead with the dam a dozen years ago, allowing Turkey to reduce its dependence on imported coal and gas.

But many who lost their homes and livelihoods say they were never really consulted. They are bitter and traumatised. Environmentalists and archaeologists, in Turkey and abroad, are angry and frustrated, too, at the loss of the valley and its treasures.

Their efforts to save Hasankeyf collapsed in the face of Erdogan’s increasing authoritarianism. International law, lagging behind the shifting attitudes around climate change and the value of protecting the environment, was inadequate for safeguarding the cultural heritage, they say.

Zeynep Ahunbay, a conservation architect, campaigned for more than a decade to save Hasankeyf, not only for its archaeological gems but also for the value of its ancient natural setting.

“You see this valley, it is so impressive,” Ahunbay says, describing what it was like to round the hillside and see Hasankeyf come into view. “You see this river cutting the rock and it goes down and down, and in the end you have the citadel of Hasankeyf. It is really marvellous, and nature and man have formed this place.”

“To disturb or change the natural process of the river is also criminal,” she says. “You lose the beauty, you lose history, you lose nature. You are a loser all the time.”

When Erdogan first announced his determination to build the dam, he championed it not only for the energy it would provide Turkey’s expanding economy but also for the development it would bring to the impoverished and insurgency-riven southeast.

The dam is part of the massive Southeastern Anatolia Project irrigation plan that was begun in the 1980s.

When the plan was first conceived in the 1950s, there was little thought of its impact on the environment or on those who would be forced to leave. But as Turkey developed democratically, opponents of the dam began organising.

International activist organisations became involved, too, challenging international investors over concerns about the environmental impact, the loss of cultural heritage and the damage to communities downstream in Iraq and Syria.

Ahunbay did not oppose the dam itself but campaigned to preserve Hasankeyf and resisted a plan to move the ancient monuments to higher ground and to entomb one in concrete.

As president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites, an international professional association that works to protect cultural heritage sites, she and a group of colleagues took the case to the European Court of Human Rights. They lost in the end because none of the plaintiffs were residents of Hasankeyf.

The protest campaigns had early success in 2009, pushing several European partners to withdraw financing mainly because Turkey did not meet the requirements of social impact assessments.

But Erdogan was undeterred. He ordered Turkish banks to step in and finance the project instead.

Money seemed no object. The government built two new towns to relocate those displaced, and new highways and bridges to skirt the reservoir. Turkish companies, closely allied to Erdogan’s government, won the building contracts.

The project had become a moneymaking exercise, a local bureaucrat said, asking that he not be identified by name for fear of reprisals from the government.

“They spent a horrendous amount of money,” says Emin Bulut, a local journalist and activist, who says the bill ran to trillions of lira. “They could have fixed all the problems of the south with that.”

In 2012, government officials arrived to begin evaluating property that would be submerged to compensate those who would be displaced. But the money became a source of resentment, dividing the community, and even families, and raising accusations of corruption. The arguments broke apart any unified opposition to the dam.

“We surrendered when they came to measure the houses,” says Birsen Argun, 44, who together with her husband ran the Hasbahce Hotel, the only hotel in Hasankeyf, set in a garden of pomegranate and walnut trees along the river. “We brought it upon ourselves.”

Her husband tried to persuade his brothers to refuse the money and fight for a bigger payment in the courts, but they accepted the payout. People withdrew the money from accounts without telling others, she added.

Many of those who did try to organise a protest movement grew up in Hasankeyf and were even born in the cave homes of the citadel, like Arif Ayhan, 44, who started out selling old coins to tourists and then became a rug dealer.

Politics split the campaign, he says, especially when supporters of the outlawed Kurdish movement, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, joined the rallies against the dam, chanting slogans and enraging police.

“This is why we failed,” he says. “We live in the most beautiful place in the world, but we could not appreciate the value of this place.”

After years of warnings, the end came suddenly. In August, the government closed the dam gates and released waters from a reservoir upriver. Families scrambled to move out of villages, abandoning homesteads, selling off livestock and even hastily building new houses and access roads on higher ground.

“We hoped the water would not come,” says Remziye Nas, mother of four, in the village of Bzere, where the water was lapping below her house. “We did not believe it would be flooded.”

In the small town of Temelli, perched above the dam, Hezni Aksu, 60, looked down from his terrace to where his family’s farmhouse and lands were among the first to go under water.

“This land was from our ancestors,” he says bitterly. His son is now an unemployed construction worker. “They made migrants of us.”

In Hasankeyf, under a heavy police presence, bulldozers demolished the old bazaar one weekend in November. As the ceiling caved in and dust fell inside his shop, something snapped inside Mehmet Ali Aslankilic. With a shout he set fire to his belongings in a lone, anguished protest.

“It was my uncle’s shop. I had been working there since I was a child,” he says. “Burning my shop was the only way I could deal with this.”

A few doors down, Mehmet Nuri Aydin, 42, packs his woven rugs of long sheep’s wool into sacks.

“We don’t want to go but we have to,” he says, adding that few shopkeepers could afford the rents in the new town.

There was no wider demonstration. Since a failed coup in 2016, Turkey has banned all protests, so the campaign to save Hasankeyf had long since petered out. Activists were even careful about what they posted on social media. Government officials kept photographers away.

With the bazaar demolished, families started to load furniture onto trucks and move to specially built homes in the new town. They gathered up the last pomegranates from the trees and piles of firewood, some even wrenching off doors and window frames from their old homes.

“Our hearts are burning,” Celal Ozbey, a retired civil servant, says as his wife and sons carry out tables and bundles from the house.

They had been assigned a house in the new town, but he was not sure they would stay, or if economic life would revive.

“Time will tell,” he says.

Fatime Salkan had refused to leave the low-pitched stone house that belonged to her parents, overlooking the 15th-Century El-Rizk mosque. Officials warned her to move, but she was among several dozen single people who, under a quirk of Turkish law, were not considered eligible for a new home.

“They told me to leave many times,” she told me in November. “If an engineer comes, I will say I am going to swim.”

She watched from her terrace in December when Dutch engineers lifted the last of the mediaeval monuments, the 1,700-ton El-Rizk mosque with its intricately carved portal, onto wheels and transported it across the river.

They deposited it on a man-made hill beside the new town, where the government has assembled various salvaged monuments and built a modern replica of the mediaeval bridge. They look out of place on the bare hillside, which will be made into a new archaeological park.

Archaeologists insist that monuments ideally should be preserved in their place but concede that if there is no other option, it is better to save them somehow. For the purists, though, the new Hasankeyf is artificial and charmless.

“The real history is down there, and we are drowning it,” says Zulku Emer, 41, a master craftsman who was laying a cobbled street beside the new park. “That’s the Turkish way. We ruin something and then try and live in it.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl ... 16561.html
Last edited by Anthea on Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: There was only one Hasankeyf and Kurds let it be destroy

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Re: There was only one Hasankeyf and Kurds let it be destroy

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Aug 01, 2020 2:53 pm

Hasankeyf History and Story

Hasankeyf is a historical district that is connected to Batman, separated by both sides of the Tigris. The history of the district goes back to 12.000 years ago. Natural protection area was declared in 1981

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Effects of its development

Hasankeyf developed commercially and economically, as it was located on the Tigris River, which curved from north to south and a significant part of the trade was carried out by the river in those days.

Etymology

Due to the houses carved into the rocks, the city mentioned with the names Kifos and Cepha / Ciphas derived from the word Suryânice Kifo (rock) is called Arabic and “Hısnı Keyfa”, which means “City of Caves” or “City of Rocks”. The name “Hısn-ı keyfa” became Hısnıkeyf in the time of the Ottomans and Hasankeyf among the people.

History

Although it is not known exactly when Hasankeyf was founded, its history goes back to ancient times. In the studies carried out in Hasankeyf mound, archaeological finds from 3.500 to 12.000 years ago have been found.

The settlement was strategically important because it was established on the road from Upper Mesopotamia to Anatolia and on the banks of the Tigris river.

It changed hands between the Byzantines and the Sassanids as a border settlement in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. Roman Emperor II, who conquered Diyarbakır and its surroundings. Constantius built two border castles to protect the area from Sassanids.

Built in 363 AD, the castle remained under Roman and Byzantine rule for a long time. After Christianity began to spread in the region from the 4th century, the settlement became the center of the Syriac diocese. Kadıköy

The Council was given the title of Cardinal to the bishopric in Hasankeyf in 451 AD. Hasankeyf was captured by the Islamic army in 640, during the Caliph Omar. The settlement, which was ruled by the Umayyads, Abbasids, Hamdanis and Marwanians, was captured by the Artukids in 1102.

Hasankeyf, the capital of the Artuklu Principality between 1102-1232, experienced its brightest period during these dates. It was reconstructed from the castle town and became a city after it was reconstructed during the Artukids period.

The settlement, which was seized by the Ayyubis in 1232, was captured and destroyed by 1260 Mongols. The Ayyubid judge of Hasankeyf was able to continue his sovereignty in the city by reporting his allegiance to Hülagü. Although Hasankeyf remained an important city in the 14th century, it did not have its former bright days.

The city, which was seized by Uzun Hasan in 1462, joined the territory of Akkoyunlu. With the weakening of Akkoyunlular, the management of Eyyubi orders started again in Hasankeyf in 1482. After a while, the settlement, which was under the control of Safavids, joined the Ottoman lands in 1515.

Hasankeyf, which was managed by Ayyubi rulers under the Ottoman rule until 1524, started to be managed by Ottoman administrators from this date. The city lost its importance as a result of the pause in trade as a result of the change in the main trade routes and the Ottoman-Iran wars since the 17th century. The settlement, which was connected to Mardin Midyat after 1867, was connected to the district of Gerçüş in 1926.

When Batman became a province in 1990, the district was connected to this city. When the Ilısu Dam was decided to be built, a new settlement was established at a distance of 3 km because the historical settlement would be under water.

Meanwhile, in the historical settlement, Artuklu Bath, Sultan Süleyman Koç Mosque, Imam Abdullah Zaviye, Er-Rızık Mosque and minaret, Zeynel Abidin Mausoleum, Eyyubi (Girls) Mosque and the middle entrance to the castle, and the Tigris River in historical buildings such as tombs and lodges. Moved to the Cultural Park on the coast. With the impoundment of Ilısu Dam in November 2019, it started to be submerged since February 2020.

Population

In 1526, there were 1301 households in Hasankeyf, of which 787 were Christians, 494 were Muslims, and 20 were Jews. In the second half of the 16th century, the settlement grew even more and the number of households increased to 1006, of which 694 belonged to Christians and 1700 belonged to Muslims.

The population of 1935 in 1425 increased to 1990 according to the 4399 census. According to the census of 1975, the population of Hasankeyf, which has a population of 13.823, has decreased to 2000 in 7493 due to the continuous immigration.

Tourism

Hasankeyf, one of the important tourism centers with its historical and natural beauties, is visited by local and foreign tourists. Imam Abdullah Mausoleum, built in the rocky hills and deep canyons, due to its calcareous structure, has thousands of nature and people, and is located on the hill on the left at the entrance to the Hasankeyf fortress Bridge from the Roman era, and lost its life during the siege of the Hasankeyf of the Islamic armies.

Hasankeyf Dicle Bridge, which is thought to have been built by the Artukids and whose important part has been destroyed until today, Zeynel Bey Tomb built by Akkoyunlu ruler Uzun Hasan for his son who died in Otlukbeli War, Ulu Mosque, which was built by Akkoyunlular and took its final form during the Ayyubid period,

The Small Palace built, the Great Palace, which has survived to the present day and is dated to the Akkoyunlu period, the Masjid-i Ali Mosque built in the 1328th century, the Rızık Mosque built during the Ayyubid period, the Süleyman Mosque, Koç Mosque, Kız Mosque and Küçük Mosque, the Castle Gate from the Ayyubids, Named as Yolgeçen Han ” its natural cave forms important historical monuments of the settlement.

Ilısu Dam

Hasankeyf faces the danger of being flooded and losing all its cultural treasure due to the Ilısu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant dam lake, which is planned to be built on the Tigris. For this reason, in Hasankeyf, which will be under the waters of the Ilisu dam, works are carried out on the transportation of rescue excavations and historical artifacts.

Climate

Hasankeyf's climate is influenced by the Tigris River flowing through the city.

https://www.raillynews.com/2020/08/hasa ... and-story/
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Re: There was only one Hasankeyf and Kurds let it be destroy

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:34 am

Turkeyʹs controversial Ilisu dam project:

Death by drowning for ancient settlement of Hasankeyf

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Merut Tekin comes from a long line of merchants in southeast Turkey. From as far back as anyone can remember, his family has run shops in Hasankeyf, an ancient Silk Road trading post on the banks of the Tigris River.

Neolithic caves line the surrounding cliffs, atop which a Roman citadel rises over early Ottoman minarets. From his shop, Tekin can observe a fair chunk of human history with a quick glance, but he is likely to be the last of his relatives to enjoy such a view.

A few kilometres downstream, construction on the Ilisu Dam is nearing completion and this part of the Tigris River valley will soon become a reservoir, inundating Hasankeyf in the process.

A drawn-out process

The project has been decades in the making, and despite local and international protests – in which European banks withdrew funding – recent developments suggest water levels will start rising this summer, though a firm date has yet to be announced.

"Since I was born, I've been under stress because of the dam," says Tekin, 38. "There's always been the rumour that the project would be finished this year, the project will be finished next year."

"The analogy I use is that it's like having a death sentence. You are standing on a chair with a rope around your neck, but the chair is neither kicked, nor is the rope taken off," he continued. "You just stand there waiting; it's terrible."

Now it seems the wait is coming to end, as the final turbine will be installed in the 1,200-megawatt dam this spring. To prepare, Turkey's General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI) issued eviction notices in February to Hasankeyf merchants, ordering them to close up shop and move to the new Hasankeyf being built across the river on higher ground.

The notice was met with protests. Merchants complained the new town was not yet complete and they would be unable to conduct business away from the historical sites where they have long made a livelihood from selling souvenirs to passing tourists.

Yet while Tekin reflects on the heritage and businesses being lost, his mind is preoccupied with the coming reality that he, along with other locals, will not be allowed to move to the new Hasankeyf due to restrictions in Turkish relocation and compensation laws.

No room for bachelors

The state has built 710 housing units in the new Hasankeyf and is allocating them only to families registered as residents of Hasankeyf. Though Tekin was born and raised in Hasankeyf, he is single, so he is not eligible to purchase neither housing nor a commercial property in the new town.

Merchants who rent shops in Hasankeyf but live in adjacent towns will also be denied property and state assistance.

Tekin makes light of his situation, blaming the Ilisu Dam for his bachelor status by pointing out that the looming project prompted Hasankeyf residents to move out over the decades, driving the town's population down from 10,000 to about 2,000 year-round residents.

"When we want to marry, we can't because the population is decreasing … and then they say, 'You're not married so we won't give you another house,'" Tekin said.

Ongoing demolition and construction

The first proposals for the Ilisu Dam were introduced in the 1950s. Since then, the prospect of a reservoir flooding the area has diverted investments away from Hasankeyf, said John Crofoot, an American who has lived on and off in Hasankeyf for six years and the co-founder of Hasankeyf Matters, which tries to raise awareness of the hamlet.

"The people of Hasankeyf, they've done a huge service to the world, in my opinion, by keeping this as a living site of cultural heritage and they've done it at great expense," Crofoot said. "They've lost out on a lot of economic opportunity by staying in Hasankeyf."

Over the years, Crofoot has documented developments in Hasankeyf. He said the last few months have been the most difficult for local residents. Work crews have been blasting limestone cliffs dotted with 10,000-year-old caves to fill in valleys that once operated as tourist attractions in order to rid the area of loose, potentially hazardous rocks that could collapse when water levels rise.

The state claims dynamite is not being used in the process, but residents were adament that they often heard explosions coming from work areas. Large earthwork projects are also underway in Hasankeyf, one of which is meant to reinforce a cliff topped with a Roman citadel, as it will remain above the reservoir's projected water line. Hasankeyf residents interviewed said demolition plans were never publicly shared and independent environmental impact studies had not been conducted.

An "act of idiocy"

Such claims were refuted by Alexander Schwab, senior vice president of Andritz Hydro, the Vienna-based company overseeing the construction of Ilisu Dam. Schwab said every house in the area was tracked via aerial surveillance and later visited by consultants who informed inhabitants about construction plans.

"We have put a lot of effort in discussion and in contribution from our side in order to have all the positive and negative effects under control," says Schwab. "If we hadn't believed that the project is a good project, we wouldn't have done it."

Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch in Vienna, disagrees. "If you destroy all this, you are in no way better than the Taliban in Bamiyan, where they destroyed the Buddha statues a few years ago," Eichelmann said. "It's a similar act of idiocy. It's crazy."

https://en.qantara.de/content/turkeys-c ... tlement-of
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Re: There was only one Hasankeyf and Kurds let it be destroy

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Aug 11, 2020 12:47 am

Goodbye to Hasankeyf

The ancient town of Hasankeyf has been wiped off the map

Nestled on the bank of the Tigris, it was one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, its artefacts dating back 12,000 years. You can still find it online and admire photographs of its spectacular ruins, or of the thousands of human-made caves that studded its limestone cliffs, but in real life it’s gone.

As Turkey’s new Ilısu hydroelectric dam has been brought to full capacity over the last year, the level of the reservoir has inched upwards. In April, Hasankeyf was quietly swallowed.

The people of Hasankeyf, who until recently lived alongside the archaeological site, are mostly Kurds, Turkey’s largest persecuted minority. Many have had to move their homes further up the hill; others have left the area. Flooding has also affected dozens of other villages and towns, whose inhabitants are likely to be pushed towards nearby cities, further depopulating the Kurdish region.

It’s estimated that around 80,000 people will be displaced. It has been speculated that this was the plan all along, part of Turkey’s long-term strategy to undermine and disempower Kurdish people, culture and heritage.

The Ilısu dam will also effect another marginalised group hundreds of miles south: the Marsh Arabs who live in the alluvial plain of the Tigris-Euphrates river system, downstream of Turkey’s Taurus mountains, and rely on the wetland ecosystem for agriculture and fishing.

The dam will soon provide colossal amounts of clean energy – as much as a nuclear reactor – but its effect on the biodiversity of the wider river basin will be catastrophic, leading to the extinction of many native species.

Turkey has lately found other ways to weaponise water. Last month, the Turkish government cut off the supply to Hasakah, a city in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), leaving a million people without drinking water. It has also reduced the flow to areas around Kobane by two-thirds, reducing the water available for irrigation and electricity and in turn threatening the local food supply.

This is the latest in a series of attacks on Kurdish regions that resumed in earnest last October, when Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Rojava, home to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units once lionised for driving Daesh out of Kobane.

Since mid-June, Turkey has intensified attacks on Kurds in Syria and Iraq. Airstrikes have killed dozens of civilians, and crops have been burned. Last month, three women’s rights activists associated with the Kongreya Star network of feminist organisations, Zehra Berkel, Hebûn Mele Xelîl and Amina Waysi, were killed by a Turkish missile as they sat outside a house in Kobane together.

Alongside racism and state violence, Kurds in Turkey have long fought attempts to suppress and annihilate their language and culture. In the face of relentless humiliation, the magnificence of Hasankeyf, and its reminder of the ancient heritage of the Kurdish people, was a source of dignity and pride.

About seven hours’ drive north-east of Hasankeyf rises Mount Ararat, the supposed landing place of Noah’s Ark. It lies just a few miles off the geodesic joining London and Tehran, and is almost a quadripoint between Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.

I spent my childhood summers in Iran, and spotting the snowy peak of Ararat poking above the clouds was the high point of the plane journey. Ararat is just inside Turkey’s eastern border, but is also visible from Yerevan, where it is sacrosanct, and a symbol of the Armenian genocide of 1915 (which Turkey still refuses to recognise). The border is not officially contested, but many Armenians claim the mountain as theirs.

It is perhaps a strange thing, to claim a mountain, especially one on the territory of another state, but Kurds understand. One of their sayings is ‘no friends but the mountains’. The recent US about-turn was no surprise: Kurdish history is a long list of betrayals by former allies. That leaves little to depend on beyond the vast mountain ranges of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, which have assisted the guerrilla tactics of freedom fighters and remain home to around 30 million Kurds, whose future is as uncertain as ever.

Mountains can’t be taken away; they’re the natural monuments of those whose history and culture is always under threat.

So goodbye, Hasankeyf. One of the oldest towns in the world may have been drowned after 12,000 years, but the jagged peaks above it will still be here 12,000 years from now, when the dam is rubble and all our monuments have sunk back into the lone and level sands.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2020/august/ ... -hasankeyf

Goodbye to Hasankeyf

I will always remember the UK campaign to to save Hasankeyf. We stopped the UK banks from supporting the building work and got Balfour Beatty to pull out.

I remember the friends, an assortment of Kurds from ALL parts of Kurdistan, along with many non-Kurdish friends, who put so much hard work into saving Hasankeyf. So many people supported the campaign. Media (newspapers) wrote endless articles; TV programs; famous people came out in support.

But in recent years, Kurds have FAILED to unite and save the most important part of Kurdistan :((
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