Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Dam construction means watery grave for Hasankeyf

Hope has run dry for the ancient town of Hasankeyf in Turkey's southeast. The Ilisu Dam, the construction of which will begin in October this year, will essentially leave Hasankeyf underwater, contrary to promises made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at earlier dates. Hasankeyf Mayor, A. Vahap Kusen, says this: "If a Prime Minister makes a promise three times, and then goes ahead on the plan for the Ilisu Dam without making any changes, this is a huge blow for history. The State Water Works (DSI) has given the death order for a 10 thousand year old city....Hasankeyf will be erased from history."

Batman organization calls on Erdogan to keep his word

The Batman Hasankeyf Volunteer Organization is protesting the imminent threat to Hasankeyf by the Ilisu Dam, though they say that they are not actually against the dam itself. They propose that the construction of the dam be carried out in a way that would disclude Hasankeyf from the area to be covered in water. A statement from the head of the organization follows: "There have been four different civilizations that have passed through Hasankeyf. We are against this fabric of history being destroyed by a dam which will last for 50 years. We want PM Erdogan to stand behind the words he uttered in Batman. His words gave us hope. If Hasankeyf is destroyed by the dam, a ten thousand year history is destroyed. We want future generations to see Hasankeyf."

To be swallowed by the dam

Hasankeyf lies in the "fertile crescent," between the Tigris and the Eurphrates rivers. It has been home to Assyrians, Byzantines, Sassanids, Umayyids, Abbasids, Hamdanis, and many other cultures all the way up to the Ottomans. Though no one knows exactly who built the original city, its buildings and castle carry traces of a mosaic of cultures, which make it truly unique in the world. It lies about 37 kilometers outside of the southeastern Turkish city of Batman.

(Source: Hürriyetim)

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