Saturday, October 27, 2007

Turkey Seizes Turkish Lands For Illisu Dam

While some people were spending time wondering if Turkey was gonna cut itself a big ole slice of Iraqi Quagmire, other people were being forcibly evicted from their land in Hasankeyf. Hasankeyf is one of the archaeological wonders of the world. Site of many civilizations on the Tigirs. It's emblematic of the multicultural, multi religious historical heritage of Anatolia. Of course, that gives Turkey a good reason to destroy it, in order to support it's fictional self narrative of "one language, one culture, one ethnicity". It's also, not only an archaeologicaltreasure but a living cultural center. People there up until the Turkish state began to evict them, had lived in caves, along the river as their ancestors had for hundreds of years. Now they too will become just one more wave of the "forced migration".

A bit of background:

Turkish dam threatens historic site

By Sarah Rainsford BBC News, Hasankeyf Hasankeyf is a wonder of nature about to be lost, ecologists say The ancient city of Hasankeyf is perched on rock, towering above the river Tigris. It is a spectacular setting filled with monuments to multiple civilisations. The caves at the very top are 3,000 years old. More recent sandstone mosques in the valley below testify to a time when Hasankeyf was among the richest cities in Mesopotamia. Soon the entire valley is to be flooded with a dam. The controversial project was first conceived in 1954 and abandoned six years ago. Now a new funding deal from an international consortium including Austria, Germany and Switzerland means it is on the brink of realisation. Environmental activists are horrified.

For a brief example of some of the archaeological finds that will be destroyed by the Ilisu Dam, read this:

Ancient tomb of young lovers excavated in Turkey ANKARA, (Xinhua): Turkish archaeologists discovered a tomb of a young couple locked in an embrace during their work in Turkey' southeastern Turkey, local Today's Zaman reported on Monday. The report said that the tomb of the couple was found at Hakemi Use in the Bismil district of Diyarbakir province, and archaeologists stated that the couple, who presumably died some 8000 years ago, is likely to set a record as the oldest embracing couple in the history of archaeology. "The tomb is at least 1,000 years older than the one found last year in Verona, Italy. The way they were buried signifies they were lovers", Halil Tekin, head of the archaeologist team from Hacettepe University, was quoted as saying. "An illness or even a crime of love may have been the cause of their death, we will learn much more about them after anthropologists in our university complete their examinations on the skeletons," added Tekin. The excavation work at the Hakemi Use site has been underway since 2001 with a group of archaeologists from Turkey's Hacettepe University, whose objective is to rescue artifacts at the site before the area is flooded by the Ilisu Dam.

I visited Hasankeyf in January of this year and then again in August. There had been some reversals for the project as every time the European companies involved became public, pressure and shame forced them to withdraw money. At this point, it seems the banks involved are being kept a secret. What I saw when I was there was that little by little people were being pressured to leave this place that had been a kind of paradise, and the only place they had ever wanted to live. But the pressure to leave seemed to be happening little by little and I had hope something would happen to reverse the situation. In August people who lived there told me they felt the Turkish Government was trying to ruin everything they could, from the lives of the people living there, to the historical and archaeological sites. Then the building of this dam could be justified "see there was nothing really there."

This situation is a great tragedy and it's unbelievable that Europe can allow the funding to go through to build this dam.It is nothing short of barbaric, an incredible destruction of historical heritage that belongs not just to Turkey, but to the world.

Turkish politicians have gone on to say that people will be able to scuba dive in order to see the lost artifacts and ruins. How stupid do they think people are? Pretty stupid I suppose, because these sorts of quotes are printed in places like the BBC without any comment or contradiction.

But this recent article is most depressing to me, because it means Turkey feels there will be no censure for them to act against it's own citizens, and it has already begun massive evictions without compensation. It knows no one will do anything. The "west", the Europeans, the Americans, it's fellow Muslim neighbors could care less (well, except Iraq, which will be in danger of having it's water supply entirely cut off by this dam project).

From the blog WORLD WAR 4 REPORT

Turkey Seizes Turkish Lands for Ilisu Dam Submitted by Bill Weinberg on Fri, 10/26/2007 - 23:22. With all the focus on the crisis over Kurdish separatist rebels taking refuge in northern Iraq, largely overlooked are the multiple reasons that Turkey's Kurds have to be discontented. We noted two years ago the pressures on eastern Turkey's peoples from the Ataturk Dam. Now more Kurdish lands are being expropriated for the Ilisu Dam, as noted by a recent European fact-finding mission to Anatolia. From Kurdish Media, Oct. 23: Berlin – The European Ilisu campaign has learned during a site visit, that without the knowledge of responsible authorities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the Turkish government has begun to expropriate the first affected villages at the controversial Ilisu dam site on the Tigris river in a move that violates conditions Linkimposed by European export credit agencies. Expropriated people are extremely angry at this development and the affected population’s overall indignation at the Ilisu dam project is growing. Christine Eberlein of the Swiss organisation "Berne Declaration" and member of the European Ilisu campaign observed this when she visited the villages of Ilisu and Karabayir in mid-October. Her report reveals the miserable compensation packages offered and the unfair processes by which the Turkish authorities are forcing the affected families to resettle. A Kurdish Human Rights Project delegation made similar observations in September during a visit to the affected areas. to read more

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