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Hasankeyf is being destroyed MILLIONS Kurds do NOTHING

A place for discussion and exchanging ideas about Kurdistan issues here, also a place for sharing article & views and analysis about Kurdistan .

Re: WE MUST SAVE HASANKEYF FOR KURDISH CHILDREN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Jul 28, 2019 11:35 pm

I am appalled by the lack of support from the Kurdish people to protect such a unique and ancient site

Actually I am absolutely furious X(
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Re: WE MUST SAVE HASANKEYF FOR KURDISH CHILDREN

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Re: WE MUST SAVE HASANKEYF FOR KURDISH CHILDREN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:23 pm

Julie Ward MEP sends letter to
UK Foreign Secretary on Hasankeyf


Member of the European Parliament, Julie Ward, sent a letter to UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, urging him to make representations to the Turkish government regarding the threat to Hasankeyf and the negative impacts of the Ilisu Dam

The letter was also signed by Prof Felix Padel and Henry Brooks, Kurdish Solidarity Cymru.

Julie Ward MEP wrote: "In mid-July our small delegation from Wales and England traveled to the city of Hasankeyf in south- east Turkey. Some of us had undertaken this long journey previously at the invitation of local MPs and other dignitaries who are reaching out to the international community for civic solidarity."

The letter continued as follows: "Our journey to Hasankeyf 2 weeks ago was principally to witness and take part in a protest against the construction and filling of the hydroelectric Ilisu Dam which is now mostly complete. The dam has not yet been filled with water despite a test flooding of some local roads.

However, if the dam is filled Hasankeyf and the surrounding villages will be 80% submerged under 60 metres of water.

Hasankeyf is around 12,000 years old. Sitting on the Tigris river it has been home to many of the world’s earliest and most impressive civilisations, from the Hurrians and Assyrians to the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. Hundreds of identified archeological sites are still unexcavated. The completion of the Ilisu Dam will destroy this rich cultural heritage.

The Turkish state has made some effort to relocate a number of monuments from the city but in the process of relocation itself the cultural heritage is being destroyed. Countless more artefacts - discovered and undiscovered - remain at risk from the dam.

Today Hasankeyf’s population includes a mix of Kurds, Arabs and Turks. Many families have lived in and around Hasankeyf for generations. These communities will be displaced and destroyed with the completion of Ilisu Dam. “New Hasankeyf” is being built nearby but its housing is inadequate and expensive to the point of being inaccessible to many previous residents.

Because of debts taken on to purchase new homes thousands face impoverishment. Kurdish communities are particularly at risk, and this displacement amounts to yet another attack by the Turkish state upon vulnerable cultural and linguistic traditions.

Further up- and downstream, many fragile ecosystems on the banks of the Tigris are at risk. The dam is designed to last no more than 100 years, but the environmental damage could be irreversible. The

Mesopotamian marshes in southern Iraq, home to the Marsh Arabs and declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 2016, are at risk of being drained with the completion of the dam.

Geopolitically, the building of the dam amounts to a power grab by Turkey. The dam would give Turkey a great deal of power over the supply of water continuing downstream through Iraq, including to the cities of Mosul and Baghdad.

Campaigners in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and all over the world have raised geopolitical, cultural and environmental concerns about the Ilisu Dam during the last three decades, and this is now at a crucial juncture. The dam is well developed but, as goes an often-repeated slogan by campaigners:

    “It is not too late to save Hasankeyf”
The signatories urged the Foreign Secretary "to make representations to the Turkish government regarding the threat to Hasankeyf and the negative impacts of the Ilisu Dam."

The signatories also urged the Foreign Secretary "to visit the city of Hasankeyf yourself as we did, to meet its residents and learn of their struggles. We could help facilitate such a trip. Most of all, we urge you to speak up in defence of this unique and internationally important city, to defend it lest it is lost not only to those who live in Hasankeyf but lost to the whole world."
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Re: Where is Kurdish Pride It is Not Too Late to Save Hasank

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 02, 2019 6:02 pm

Turkey starts filling huge Tigris river dam

Turkey has started filling a huge hydroelectric dam on the Tigris river, a lawmaker and activists said, despite protests that it will displace thousands of people and risks creating water shortages downstream in Iraq

Citing satellite images, they said that water was starting to build up behind the Ilisu dam, a project that has been decades in the making and which aims to generate 1,200 megawatts of electricity for southeast Turkey.

Turkish officials have not commented on work at the dam. Turkey's State Hydraulic Works (DSI), which oversees dam projects, referred questions to the Presidency, and the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry was not available to comment.

However, President Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this year that Turkey would start filling the Ilisu dam in June, a year after it briefly held back water before backing down following complaints from Iraq about reduced water flows in mid-summer.

The dam, which first gained Turkish government approval in 1997, is a key part of Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia Project, designed to improve its poorest and least developed region.

Iraq says the dam will create water shortages by reducing flows in one of two rivers which the country depends on for much of its supplies. Around 70% of Iraq's water supplies flow from neighbouring countries, especially via the Tigris and Euphrates rivers which run through Turkey.

Satellite images from the past two weeks show the dam has started holding water, said Necdet Ipekyuz, a lawmaker from Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP). He said a road in the area has already been submerged.

"They are taking steps slowly to decrease the reactions to water being held. That is why they are not informing the public," he said, adding that several HDP lawmakers tried to visit the dam in July but were prevented by police.

Environmental campaigners have unsuccessfully challenged the dam project at the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds it would damage the country's cultural heritage.

SUBMERGED TOWN

The rising waters of the dam are also expected to eventually submerge the 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf. Residents are being moved from the ancient town to a "New Hasankeyf" nearby, while historic artefacts have also been transported out of the area.

A group of NGOs, lawmakers and labour unions shared satellite images of the dam showing the increase in water levels between July 19-29.

"The current situation is strengthening the idea that the valves have been closed permanently," the group, known as Hasankeyf Coordination, said in a statement.

"Because the dam lake is growing every day, the people who live in these areas are worried. They cannot know when the water will reach their residential or agricultural areas."

The Iraqi government said in a statement that Turkish and Iraqi officials had discussed the water resources of the two rivers in Baghdad on Wednesday to see how they could "serve the interests of both countries".

Turkey proposed setting up a joint research centre in Baghdad for water management and to work together on some agriculture plantations in Iraq, as well as projects for development of drinking water infrastructure.

The European Court of Human Rights in February dismissed the case brought by environmental campaigners to block the dam project, saying heritage protection is the responsibility of Turkish authorities and it had no jurisdiction.

The government needs to make an announcement, even if the dam were being filled for a trial run, said HDP's Ipekyuz. "They are trying to tie a belt around the Tigris river's neck and suffocate it," he said. (Additional reporting by John Davison and Ahmed Aboulenein in Baghdad Editing by Dominic Evans and Susan Fenton)

https://news.yahoo.com/turkey-starts-fi ... NlYwNzcg--
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Re: Where is Kurdish Pride It is Not Too Late to Save Hasank

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 08, 2019 12:32 am

Many detained as Turkish forces
attack HDP people in Hasankeyf


The ancient town of Hasankeyf will be flooded by the Ilısu Dam as the AKP regime seeks to destroy the history of 12 thousand years despite strong reactions

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Youth Council and Young Women’s Council started a vigil to save Hasankeyf.

Batman Co-mayors Mehmet Demir and Songül Korkmaz, HDP MP Ayşe Acar Başaran and HDP Youth Council members went to Hasankeyf today to manifest their objection to the AKP regime’s plans to destroy the ancient town.

The group, denied permission to demonstrate in Hasankeyf, was attacked by Turkish gendarmerie forces when they started a march from the town to Batman city center.

Many people were taken into custody in the crackdown.

https://anfenglishmobile.com/kurdistan/ ... keyf-36782

It is a disgrace that so few Kurds have tried to save Hasankeyf
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Re: Hasankeyf is being destroyed MILLIONS Kurds do NOTHING

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Aug 10, 2019 2:23 am

In Turkey a power play will
leave ancient towns underwater


The nation’s plan to control its most precious resource includes a controversial dam that will drown some of its history

The ancient town of Hasankeyf sits on the bank of the Tigris River. The Ilısu Dam will cause the river to rise some 200 feet, submerging this modern café, the ruins of the 900-year-old bridge behind it, and Neolithic caves.

The nation’s plan to control its most precious resource includes a controversial dam that will drown some of its 12,000 year old history.

Hasankeyf is a 12,000-year-old village carved into a plateau flanking the Tigris River. It looks like something out of a surreal fairy tale. Overlooking the town are caves crafted by Neolithic pioneers and the ruins of a citadel as old as the Byzantines. The settlement bears traces of the Romans. It’s the site of significant medieval Islamic architecture, including a bridge across the Tigris that established it as an important outpost along the Silk Road. Marco Polo may have crossed there on his way to China.

Hasankeyf is also an active town in southeastern Turkey, with markets and gardens and mosques and cafés—a place with a palpable feeling of historical continuity and survival.

Yet in 2006 the Turkish government officially began work on a giant dam across the Tigris River that will lead to the drowning of an estimated 80 percent of Hasankeyf and the displacement of its 3,000 residents, as well as many other people. The dam—the Ilısu—is now almost complete, and the flooding could start anytime in the next year.

Why would a country demolish one of its most mythic places? To improve the lives of the local people through modernization, the government says. But the massive project benefits the Turkish state too. Turkey has no native oil or natural gas sources. What it does have is water.

In the early decades of the 20th century, the Turkish Republic engaged in a series of state-driven modernization projects intended to develop its economy. The southeastern region—its inhabitants relatively poor, undereducated, and minority Kurds, Arabs, and Assyrians—was largely left out.

In the 1970s the government proposed a remedy: a colossal dam project that would bring reliable electricity to the southeast and irrigate the farmlands. The Turkish government would build 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power plants across the Tigris and Euphrates river network, as well as roads, bridges, and other forms of infrastructure. The plan was dubbed the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP, as the acronym goes in Turkish).

In Halfeti, located on the reservoir created by the Birecik Dam, tourists dine at Fırat Yüzer floating restaurant. People come to the lake to visit the town’s submerged remains and other flooded villages nearby, but water also covers the region’s fertile fields.

The GAP soon became controversial. Syria and Iraq, downstream from Turkey, protested that Turkey could deprive them of much needed water

Meanwhile, due to massive protests, European banks withdrew funding and the World Bank denied loans because of ongoing multinational disagreements, inadequate environmental assessments, and concerns about the scope of resettlement and cultural heritage protection.

Even within the Turkish government, enthusiasm for the GAP as a national pride project began to fade, according to Hilal Elver, who advised the Ministry of Environment in the 1990s and is now the UN Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on the right to food.

Indeed, by the 2000s it had become clear that the dam projects weren’t succeeding in their ostensible purpose. “They mismanaged the water, and it didn’t bring development and it didn’t bring peace,” said Elver, noting that the PKK and the government are still fighting. Today electricity generated by 13 of 19 completed dams is mostly used elsewhere.

Salination, a direct result of introducing water to poorly drained salty lands, has ruined precious farms. Income from the dams hasn’t trickled down to local municipalities or people. Thousands have been displaced. Most received monetary compensation and housing but not enough to replace long-held livelihoods.

The Ilısu Dam may be one of the GAP’s most destructive projects yet. It’s set to flood not only Hasankeyf but also 250 miles of river ecosystem, 300 archaeological sites, and dozens of towns and villages. Some of the artifacts will be moved to safer ground, but the dam will displace about 15,000 people and affect tens of thousands more.

Ercan Ayboğa, an environmental engineer and spokesperson for the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, says the number might be close to 100,000. “It’s a huge project imposed on the people of the region by the Turkish government,” Ayboğa said. It “has no benefits for the local population except profits for some companies and big landowners.”

So why does the Turkish government press on? After all, other countries, including the U.S., are reconsidering the benefits and risks of dam projects and even removing some dams to restore natural water flow and river habitats. And there are less destructive ways to generate electricity, such as solar power.

Many believe that the government’s goal is simply to control this natural resource, for Turkey’s domestic needs and for its security. Case in point: When the PKK’s leader, Abdullah Öcalan, found shelter in Syria, one of Turkey’s bargaining chips to get him back was that it could shut off the country’s water supply. Water “can be used as a weapon against Iraq and Syria,” said John Crofoot, an American part-time resident and founder of Hasankeyf Matters. “It’s leverage.”

This past spring Iraq’s drought worsened, and the Tigris trickled to dangerous lows. The Iraqi government lobbied against the Turkish plan to start filling the reservoir created by the Ilısu Dam in June. The Turks acquiesced. Fatih Yıldız, the Turkish ambassador to Iraq, told critics, “We have shown once again that we can put our neighbor’s needs ahead of our own.” But for decades the government’s attitude has basically remained the same: Iraq has oil, but Turkey has water—and it can do with that what it pleases.

Savaşan village in the district of Halfeti offers a glimpse of Hasankeyf’s future. In 2000 the village was submerged, along with eight others, by the Birecik Dam. Despite the project’s promise of helping agriculture, the farmland belonging to the people of Halfeti now lies largely beneath the water. Tour boats pass by a drowned mosque, but tourism hasn’t yet made up for the community’s economic loss.

People in Hasankeyf protested in March, after government officials served the merchants who worked in the historic bazaar with eviction papers and told them to start moving to new commercial properties in New Hasankeyf, a series of bland, mostly uninhabited buildings on a nearby plain. The merchants argued that their businesses couldn’t be supported by a ghost town. The eviction, they said, violated their human right to work. They prevailed, if only temporarily.

In the years since the dam construction began, the people have been living in a vague, agonizing limbo, not knowing when they will have to leave their homes. The last anyone heard, the government was going to start filling the reservoir in July. That didn’t happen. So the people wait, and live. It’s as if the longer Hasankeyf is not flooded, the easier it is to believe that it never will be.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/maga ... _38mGmucvw
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Re: Hasankeyf is being destroyed MILLIONS Kurds do NOTHING

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:54 am

This 12,000-year-old town
could soon be under water


Abdurrahman Gundogdu looks out from his gift shop across the street and towards the slow-moving river Tigris, which has flowed through Hasankeyf throughout its 12,000 years of human habitation

But not for much longer

If the flooding of this ancient town goes ahead as planned, as the controversial Ilisu dam is filled, lifelong resident Gundogdu will be gone, along with 3,000 other inhabitants.

Nearly 200 villages will be completely or partially flooded, impacting around 100,000 people, according to local campaign group Initiative To Keep Hasankeyf Alive.

They will be the last generation of the hundreds who have lived and died here in the world’s oldest continuously inhabited town, known to have been settled for 12 millennia.

“Allah gave this space to us like this; the Tigris is mentioned in the Quran,” Gundogdu said, his hand sweeping out to indicate the place he loves.

Even though he dreads the day he will have to move to the new town built for residents by the government, he says he has given up the fight to save Hasankeyf, or the river. “I have no more hope, unfortunately. I tried but couldn’t make it happen.”

The floodgates were shut in late July so that the waters behind the dam began to rise, giving residents and campaigners a few more precious weeks and months to try to halt the inevitable.

Despite numerous public demonstrations and a number of police arrests of protesters, activists continue to try to convince Ankara to suspend the project.

The Ilisu project aims to produce 3,800 gigawatt hours of electricity annually to the Batman region in southeast Turkey, and is expected to generate 1.3 billion Turkish liras ($227m) annually.

Sitting 140 kilometres away from Iraq, Ilisu is a key dam among 22 built as part of the Southeastern Anatolian Project, or GAP - a national development policy that includes regional irrigation, employment and energy needs.

It’s the country’s second largest in volume and fourth in energy generation according to the Turkish government.

It will also significantly impact Turkey’s neighbours since the Tigris flows into Syria, enters Iraq, and reaches the Gulf after merging with the Euphrates.

But since construction began in late 2000s, Ilisu has been dogged by controversy.

Over the years international NGOs, environmental groups, and European politicians warned that it would submerge a unique site of human heritage, destroying hundreds of archaeological treasures, including more than 5,000 archaic caves built along the river, and submerging the birthplace of several major civilisations.

For hundreds of years people in Hasankeyf lived in caves on the banks of the Tigris.

Despite vocal opposition and major protests, the project eventually went ahead with strong support from Turkey’s AKP government.

Back in 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then a newly elected prime minister, vowed to embark on a number of mega projects to solve an economic crisis and bring prosperity to Turkey’s poorer regions.

In 2006, he held a ceremonial groundbreaking in Hasankeyf and said there was no time to lose on the construction of the dam. “With Ilisu, a cornerstone will be placed among the civilisation stones of the southeast," he said, addressing crowds.

In 2008, the first spade was dug. Finally, it was this very site that was blown up using dynamite in August 2017, to help erect Ilisu’s 64-metre-high concrete walls over the fertile river basin.

Unique structures

In Hasankeyf, local tour guide Ali, known as Shepherd Ali, has noticed how the turmoil of the construction and removal of so many historic edifices has not just had an impact on local people.

For centuries, the town’s tallest structure, standing at 30 metres, was the iconic minaret that topped the early 15th-century El-Rizk Mosque overlooking the Tigris.

Often the background image for tourist pictures, it was dismantled over the winter.

“The regular stork was offended,” said Ali. The stork would go to find its old perch on the minaret, he explained, as he walked through New Hasankeyf amid dust from ongoing construction. But the minaret was gone - taken to be relocated in the new town.

“It came a few times after it was taken down, then it gave up.”

Hasankeyf is home to some 500 structures of historical significance, built by the various empires and civilisations that ruled this part of Mesopotamia, including Hittites, Romans, Persians and Ottomans.

To preserve some of the most significant, the authorities have dismantled, transported and rebuilt them in New Hasankeyf, around three kilometres from the old town.

The minaret is one of seven big artefacts that were removed from the old town, alongside 785 out of 1150 graves from the old cemetery.

The 1,100-tonne Zeynel Bey Shrine, the only remaining structure from the 15th century Akkoyun state, was also relocated, carried on wheels for three hours to the newly built archeopark, placed right in front of the new housing complex.

Shepherd Ali points to a leaf-like Christian cross carved on the wall inside one of the caves that would sink under the artificial lake. (Nimet KIRAC/ MEE)
Shepherd Ali points to a leaf-like Christian cross carved on the wall inside one of the caves that will be submerged under the artificial lake. (MEE/Nimet Kirac)

Ali said he defines the uprooting of these iconic structures as “plucking the flower”, adding that he thinks “a rose is best on its branch”.

He also does not want to move to the bland, concrete town built for Hasankeyf residents, despite Ankara’s offers to include a museum, a mosque and parked boats on the water.

“But I have to leave when the time comes,” he said.

Poor construction

The government has promoted the dam and the new town as critical for a region that has been long neglected and hit by the conflict with the Kurdish separatist PKK, which raged here for decades.

The Batman region where it sits has the highest unemployment rate in the country, according to official figures. At least a quarter of its locals are jobless.

Hasankeyf resident Ahmet Akdeniz was once a big supporter of the project - but not anymore. “I really supported this project to help our people get better living conditions. Some of us were living in caves,” he explained.

He used to be one of its best known advocates from Hasankeyf, travelling to Europe to defend it from its many critics. He once asked German MP Claudia Roth “why she was so worried about dislocating history here and not when it comes to pieces in [Berlin’s] Pergamon Museum.”

“If the project was installed properly, it could have been really beneficial,” he said.

But Akdeniz became disillusioned with the new housing project for relocated residents. “The walls leak water.”

Middle East Eye saw the leaks from the walls in the new homes, 850 of which were built by Gunestekin Construction in partnership with Sertka, another builder.

A project manager from one of the companies told MEE that the leaks are the result of the dynamite explosions nearby.

“We told authorities repeatedly, but they say that there’s not much they can do. The explosions every other day are causing us big losses because we keep repairing,” Yuksel Durak from Gunestekin said.

Yet at this point, residents don’t have other options. They have to leave their homes and buy one of the new ones if they wish to stay in the area, across the Tigris. The new houses cost 170,000 Turkish liras, around $30,000.

Locals can start paying the government in five years - but some say they can’t afford that amount.

“We are poor people. We’ve always been poor,” Mehmet Basak, a Hasankeyf native, said.

New homes for some

Others say they have not been offered homes in New Hasankeyf because they do not qualify under the government scheme.

Basak said neither he nor any of his four siblings were given houses as they are registered as living in central Batman, even though he has a house in old Hasankeyf and was born there.

This is because of the Settlement Law, according to Abdulvahap Kusen, mayor of Hasankeyf for 20 years.

According to the mayor, under law 5543, only families who were registered as living in Hasankeyf on 1 April 2013 are eligible for housing. Basak's family and others like him will instead have to move to new homes in central Batman.

“They left Hasankeyf natives homeless by giving the deeds to foreigners, people in their close circles,” Basak claimed. He said he has 12 children and 10 grandchildren who do not know why they were not included in the new settlement.

Sait Kalaygil and Mehmet Basak get into a heated argument over who should be given house ownership in New Hasankeyf. May 16, 2019. (Nimet KIRAC/ MEE)
Sait Kalaygil and Mehmet Basak get into a heated argument over who should be given house ownership in New Hasankeyf, 16 May 2019. (MEE/Nimet Kirac)

Basak said he did not blame President Erdogan “because he doesn’t know what’s happening here”. Still, he noted that Erdogan’s party, the AKP, lost his vote.

Kusen, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told MEE by phone that the displacement is not forced, but “they will have to leave when the flooding begins anyway”. He then hung up.

The psychological toll of abandoning Hasankeyf comes up again and again in conversations along the Tigris.

Shepherd Ali said he has lost significant weight over the years campaigning against the dam project, while shopkeeper Gundogdu says he has been using antidepressants for years to help with moodiness, crushed by the idea that he is losing his hometown.

They both said they wish they were asked about the fate of their towns, and not forced to leave.

The culture minister

One person who should know whether all the environmental and heritage costs of the project were properly assessed in the planning of Ilisu is Ertugrul Gunay.

Turkey’s culture minister between 2007 and late 2012, he told MEE his ministry held many meetings with the Forestry and Water Affairs Ministry, offering to save Hasankeyf during that period, but to no avail.

“[The ministry] told us that these demands are impossible to meet, that things had gone too far out by now,” Gunay told MEE, adding his teams carried out scientific excavations in a bid to preserve ancient Hasankeyf.

The right to grant Environmental Impact Assessments (CED) was taken from his ministry in 2011, he said, and was given to the Environment, Forestry and Urbanisation Ministry, which at that time oversaw state hydraulic works.

CEDs are mandatory state-approved permits for major projects like dams, now granted by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation after the restructuring of the ministries since 2011.

Ilisu was greenlighted by the Ministry of Environment and Urbanisation in 2011, and granted an exemption. Linked construction involving roads and bridges were exempted from CED in 2012.

In 2013, the Council of State overturned the exemption decision on Ilisu, but the construction continued, NGOs said and local media reported.

“Dams, water and energy have been seen as the country’s top priorities by almost all its governments,” said Gunay. “That’s why, as investment projects were developed, settlements, natural and historic assets always came second.”

He said he doesn’t have regrets because things were out of his hands. But he said pointedly that former prime ministers should be regretful about the haste with which the project was realised.

Gunay also conveyed his observations that Erdogan was hasty to realise the project.

‘We saved Hasankeyf’

Yunus Bayraktar has no doubts about Ilisu - he has been here from the start of the development, and said the dam project and transformation of Hasankeyf was his master plan.

As a key Ilisu project coordinator for Nurol Construction, the Ilisu development consortium, he vows Ilisu is here to improve life for local people.

    'We came to offer employment to the region and improve the lives of Hasankeyf’s locals, some of who were living in caves, but it was the world’s NGOs against us'

    - Yunus Bayraktar, Nurol Construction
He said he went there and stayed in a tent for a week in 2003 with a comprehensive team and mapped it out. The locals were living in extreme poverty, he said.

Now, “they will get to live where hotels will cost $500-$700 nightly”.

According to Bayraktar, the consortium wanted to bring development and prosperity to Hasankeyf but faced a battle with the international NGO community that opposed the project.

“We came to offer employment to the region and improve the lives of Hasankeyf’s locals, some of who were living in caves, but it was the world’s NGOs against us,” he told MEE.

Many protests were organised around the world and in Turkey to save Hasankeyf by groups opposed to the development, including one that saw him and other members of the construction team surrounded in 2005.

“Guards set up a human wall and that’s how we escaped (demonstrators),” Bayraktar said, referring to the incident in Turkey’s southeastern Diyarbakir province. “We fought against the world for this project for years.”

He noted he spent half of his four years in his post between 2003-07 in Europe, trying to make his case globally.

“We saved Hasankeyf,” he added.

Habitats at risk

But that is not the view of environmentalists. They see the dam and construction project as threatening an entire ecosystem in Hasankeyf.

Advocate group Hasankeyf Matters said that endemic species, as well as much of the town’s undiscovered biodiversity, faces urgent threat with the planned flooding.

According to John Crofoot, the NGO’s co-founder from the US and a part-time Hasankeyf resident since 2006, there’s much to lose. “The ecosystem is so extraordinary, it prompts newcomers to feel the magic instantly,” he said.

There are rare medieval gardens in Hasankeyf that have been critical to Islamic architecture and are now endangered, he added. “Even Konya doesn’t have such gardens. I can’t believe they want to lose that,” Crofoot told MEE.

But it’s more than the gardens that are at stake with the dam.

“Of the approximately 470 bird species known in Turkey, more than 130 have been observed in Hasankeyf. Twenty-five of these are threatened,” according to a statement by cultural and natural heritage conservation group Europa Nostra.

It continued: “The Ilisu reservoir would eliminate the steep soil slopes next to the river, which are used for nesting by the pied kingfisher (Ceryle rudis), one of the most endangered riparian bird species in Turkey.”

Previous mega constructions have caused major loss of habitats for rare species.

Environmental groups point to the activation of the Birecik Dam in Sanliurfa and the resultant problems the Euphrates River suffers from today as a clear warning of what is likely to happen to the Tigris once Ilisu is fully operational.

The endangered Bonelli’s eagle lost its breeding ground in Halfeti after the Birecik dam was built.

Now the Euphrates softshell turtle, the Mesopotamian barbel and the Diyarbakir spined loach face similar danger because of Ilisu.

The ecological warnings also come at an alarming period, as the Tigris-Euphrates Basin registers the second fastest rate of lost regional groundwater storage, according to Chatham House.

“We come down by the water to drink from it,” a Turkish song played on the bus to the town goes, one of many dedicated this region’s fresh water.

The rivers matter greatly for the local culture, which is mainly Kurdish, and was once widely shared by Syriacs, Armenians and Chaldeans in earlier times. Dicle, meaning Tigris, is a common name across Turkey.

Lack of Unesco protection

Despite its unique cultural and ecological heritage, Hasankeyf does not enjoy Unesco protection, points out environmental engineer Ercan Ayboga.

This is all the more remarkable given that it qualifies for nine out of 10 of the international heritage body’s criteria, explains Ayboga, the spokesperson for the Initiative to Initiative To Keep Hasankeyf Alive.

“There are sites that meet only one and get admitted,” he adds.

Unesco has stated it needs the Turkish government to apply to get Hasankeyf admitted to the heritage list, and said Turkey has not made an application in this regard.

Meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights dismissed the appeal defending the town in February - an objection brought by five advocates; three professors, one lawyer and a journalist. After 12 years of evaluation, the ECHR said the matter exceeds its jurisdiction.

Ayboga said ECHR was “hiding out” with that decision while Unesco had failed to act.

“Turkey’s presence on the heritage committee seems to pressure Unesco, but that doesn’t mean Unesco can’t do more than just watch,” he said. “They can campaign.”

However there is only so much the world heritage body can do without official support from Turkey. “Unesco doesn't have a legal basis to take sides in this debate,” a Unesco official told MEE.

For a site to be considered for the World Heritage List, the member state would have to submit a nomination application, its website says.
Corporate power

While many locals are now resigned to moving out of Hasankeyf before it is submerged, in Istanbul campaigners against the dam have not given up. They still believe the town and the Tigris that flows through it can be saved, even at this late stage.

In Istanbul’s Taksim district on 25 June, more than 20 artists got on stage to amplify this message.

Neslihan Aksunger, a Hasankeyf advocate originally from the eastern Erzincan province, doesn’t believe the project aims to bring sustainable wealth to the people of the region as the official texts state, promising jobs, prosperity, gondola rides for tourists and pond fishing.

“Of course energy is important, but the government should seek and find other ways to provide that service to the public,” she said. “We know who wins here.”

“Was that the case in eastern Black Sea?” Aksunger said, criticising the hydroelectric power plants that have damaged natural habitats in the evergreen mountainous north.

Neslihan Aksunger says she does not believe a main reason to install the dam project is to empower locals through tourism, jobs as the Turkish government declares.

Since 2010, at least 203 hydroelectric power plants similar to Ilisu were built in Turkey’s Black Sea region. Many sparked a backlash from locals and environmentalists, who defied the projects endangering the country’s rare green zones. Some of those fights were won.

Dogu Eroglu, an investigative journalist who closely follows the environment beat in Turkey, said Ankara supports mega projects in energy and urbanisation that irreversibly change the local lifestyle and culture – and the reason is, he said, to cultivate state-corporate links.

“Mega projects enable the state’s capital transfers to take government-company relationships beyond the projects at hand. And in the future, the companies who hold the bids may be asked to take on certain roles in the government's favour,” Eroglu said.

“Which means that the central government is not buying electricity, but hopes to find itself new partners.” That is why, he said, finding alternatives to these mega projects does not fit the government’s goals. “They’re not really interested.”

The Ilisu consortium, which previously included German and Swiss companies, fell apart in 2009 after worldwide protests over environmental and cultural concerns and worries over the locals’ human rights. Then, private Turkish banks Garanti and Akbank, and state-owned Halkbank took over the financial burden.

Cengiz Holding - one of the three major Turkish groups involved in Ilisu alongside Nurol and Temelsu - was handed 7.9 billion Turkish liras ($1.38bn) worth of tenders in 2017.

Known to be close to the government, Mehmet Cengiz’s conglomerate saw the sum of tenders it won between 2011 and 2017 increase ten fold.

According to data provided by the World Bank Group, five out of ten companies that got the highest infrastructure bids from governments between 1990 and 2018 come from Turkey. Cengiz is one of them.

What’s the alternative?

But apart from stopping the dam through protests or legal action, could something else be built in its place that would benefit local people?

At the concert for Hasankeyf in Taksim, as eclectic music is played with songs sung in several of Turkey’s minority languages, videographer Omer Kara said a different kind of energy project could save the site.

“Hasankeyf is a great place to lay solar panels thanks to the sun there. They don’t have to destroy the environment or an ancient site to generate electricity.”

And it’s not just activists who are saying this.

The Energy and Natural Resources Ministry’s Solar Energy Potential Map (GEPA) shows Turkey’s solar energy generating potential across all 81 regions, with hotspots near the dam zone.

Could a comprehensive solar energy project provide energy on the scale that the dam aims to in Hasankeyf? The Turkish Mechanical Engineers Chamber’s Energy Study Group examined the question and came up with a startling answer.

Their results show that with solar panels in Hasankeyf, it is possible to generate the same amount of energy as Ilisu, using one-ninth of the dam’s area, and with minor if any historic or ecological destruction. Plus, solar is cheaper than the dam, which has cost 12 billion Turkish liras, according to officials.

    'Hasankeyf is a great place to lay solar panels thanks to the sun there. They don’t have to destroy the environment or an ancient site to generate electricity'

    - Omer Kara, videographer
The chamber released an analysis with the calculation exclusively for MEE and explained such infrastructure projects are basically pointless – that Turkey already has more than enough energy.

“While power consumption was 303 GWh in 2018, the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry states that 450 GWh of power can be produced using current systems,” the statement said.

Adding that there are plants still in the early phases of construction, by 2024, Turkey is set to massively exceed its needs in power production, the chamber added, and said the supply is 45 percent overcapacity.

“All these numbers show us is that neither the Ilisu plant that is destroying Hasankeyf nor the nuclear plant projects are out of necessity. The ruling government transferred 32.4 billion Turkish liras to the private sector by using energy policies in 2018.”

In Hasankeyf, Mehmet Basak lamented the fact that he is losing his ancient home and is not getting a new home to replace it. “We spent our entire lives here. This is basically torturing people. Isn’t it a shame?”

Only the next few critical months will tell if Hasankeyf, its residents, hundreds of ancient sites, and the river Tigris, will get a last-minute reprieve.

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Re: Hasankeyf is being destroyed MILLIONS Kurds do NOTHING

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Aug 23, 2019 2:44 am

This is part of how we, in the UK, stopped Bealfour Beaty building the dam almost 20 years ago:

Heard the one about the Turkish dam?

Roll up, roll up, for the Ilisu Dam roadshow! It doesn't sound quite right, does it? Entertainment, economic development and irrigation aren't supposed to mix. But Mark Thomas is attempting to prove that they can, as the comic-turned-activist hits the road for the first time in five years.

Over the next three months, as the British government decides whether to give financial backing to the controversial development in Kurdish south-east Turkey, Thomas will tour the country with the story of his involvement in the campaign against the dam.

On the evidence of the show's rousing premiere in London three months ago, it will be like no other gig you've seen. "I want people to be affected by it," says Thomas. "I also want people to think that they can do something. Things are not written in stone."

He now writes a fortnightly column for the New Statesman, where his journalistic hero John Pilger is a colleague. Earlier this year, a leaked email revealed that Richard Caborn MP, then trade minister, had instructed civil servants to "gather background dirt on [Thomas] in order to rubbish him".

Thomas can't trace his conversion from straight comedy to a single Damascene moment. But he was always aware that comedy had the potential to have a huge impact. "So much of what we see and do in terms of cultural experience is just wallpaper. If you think of all the films you had to see because they were listed as unmissable, and you try and remember them now, you can't. What I always wanted to do was not be wallpaper."

With his current show, Thomas has realised that ambition. It's not comedy per se; it's an account, with laughs, of one campaign group's attempts to prevent the destruction of the ancient Kurdish town of Hasankeyf and the consequent displacement of 25,000 people. While it's one thing to read in the newspapers about Britain's complicity in the scheme, it's quite another to hear how Thomas and friends gatecrashed Ilisu contractor Balfour Beatty's AGM; or to supply background cheers while he phones trade minister Patricia Hewitt from the stage.

It has been said that Thomas is less amusing now he's more political. He concedes this point, citing the pressures of editing agitprop for TV ("You lose a lot of the gags, and it's heartbreaking"), but claims to be happy to make that trade-off. One critic called him a "dinosaur". "I just thought, political comedy doesn't die, you know? If it's about anything, it's about a sense of justice and of highlighting something that is wrong. It's always going to be around until we get to the glorious anarcho-Zen Shangri-la."

The immediate Shangri-la in his sights is an intact Hasankeyf. This cause isn't just his job, it's his obsession. Of his Kurdish colleagues on the campaign, he says, "I have these incredible friendships with all the people I work with. I have to earn the right to tell their story. If I'd screwed up in the eyes of any of those people, I'd be mortified."

Thomas's current concern is that his live show might become mechanical when performed nightly over several months. "To find myself going through the motions would be a disgrace." But it's unlikely. A government decision on the dam is expected in October, and Thomas's show will change daily to take developments on board.

"Any decision that the government makes, it's like, 'Great, that's more material.' If they turn down the application, we've got a practical example of a campaign actually working. But there's also a whole load of other stuff waiting in the wings, so we can use the story of Ilisu to illustrate what's happening elsewhere."

It must be a surprise for Thomas to find himself in a position of such political prominence; to have a say in the lives and livelihoods of 25,000 people. "The difference between where I started and where I ended up is really bizarre. But it's always been like that. There's a lifelong sense of, 'How the hell did I get here?' "

But he isn't the type to dwell on it. "I remember meeting this bloke in a little tea shop in Hasankeyf. I asked him a simple question: "How old are you?" And his eyes filled up and he said, "I'm 28." He knew that he looked 50. When he said 28, he was acknowledging how shit his life had been. My job is to go back and tell people that that's what happened.

"I suppose those moments kind of answer the 'Why am I here?' thing."

Link to Full Guardian Article

https://www.theguardian.com/culture/200 ... sfeatures1

Mark Thomas Comedy Product Series 4 Episode 9 ECGD and ILLISU Dam

https://youtu.be/OXBFpuUOD9Y

A group of people, including English people, Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan and at least one from Germany, among others, worked extremely hard to prevent the UK government from supporting Balfour Beatty's work on the dam

It is shameful that, in all the years since we stopped the dam being built, Kurds have done NOTHING to protect Hasankeyf
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