Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Ilisu Dam Controversy

'We Will Lose A Real Treasure

"We Will Lose a Real Treasure"

Designs for Turkey's Ilisu dam were finalized in 1982, but social, historical and environmental concerns have stalled development for decades. But this weekend saw the country's prime minister attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the dam, which is considered one of the world's most-controversial public works projects.

The ancient Turkish city of Hasankeyf is no stranger to conquest by distant powers. Nestled on the banks of the Tigris River, it still bears the mark of its successive rulers -- among them, Romans, Arabs, Mongols and Ottomans.

But now it's those reminders of a settlement that was established several thousand years before Christ's birth that Hasankeyf's 3,800 citizens fear will be lost. The ancient city lies at the heart of plans for a massive dam project that will provide water supplies and electricity to Turkey's southeast.

Photo Gallery: The Treasure Turkey Will Lose

Over the weekend, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the project -- against the backdrop of 4,000 protestors who rallied against the Ilisu dam, which would forever submerge the town's archeological heritage.

"We will lose a real treasure," said Ercan Ayboga of the Initiative to Save Hasankeyf. Zeynep Ahunbay, a prominent activist for the preservation of historical sites in Turkey went even further, saying the ruins should be given UNESCO'S "world cultural heritage" designation.
Turkey says the €1.2 billion ($1.5 billion) Ilisu dam, one of 21 outlined under the broader $32 billion Greater Anatolia Project (GAP), will improve agricultural and social conditions by controlling flooding and improving irrigation.
Much more at the link.
The Ilisu Dam-Environmental Impacts
And this is where Syria and Iraq come into the picture, as well as speculation regarding why this dam that will indeed do environmental damage and submerge a sacred city needs to be built. Especially when it will drive Kurds off their lands. Is this necessary, or simply political retribution?

The Middle East is already a water scarce region. Building billion dollar projects that seek to divert water from the Tigris River that Iraq and Syria also depend on can only cause friction down the line. And should the U.S. actually provide funds for this project that will divert water from Iraq, that would most certainly solidify the reason for being there... and it isn't to be benefactors to the Iraqi or Kurdish people.

Statement Of Hasankeyf Platform

Ilisu Dam: A Human Rights Disaster In The Making

To me, disrespecting something others revere as sacred is abominable. What we are doing to our world in the name of "progress" is killing her. For once you exploit her soul there is nothing left. These government tactics to simply take over sources of water to then control their flow for profit without balance is a human rights abuse that will lead to widescale war in the future if we do not stand up against those who are aligned with it to exploit the poor at the profit of the rich.

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