ANKARA - Dozens of associations, groups, academics, journalists from the UK wrote to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to express their concer about the future of Hasankeyf.
The 12,000-years site is going to be flooded when the Ilisu Dam will become operational.
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign is among the promoters of the initiative.
The full text of the letter is as follows:
Dear Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP,
The Ilisu Dam: a critical juncture
Over the past two decades, we have written to your predecessors on numerous occasions to express our grave concerns over the adverse environmental, social and geopolitical impacts of the Ilisu Dam on the River Tigris in Turkey, which is now nearing completion. The Turkish Government has now announced its intention to start filling the reservoir on or after 10 June 2019.
You will recall that in 2001 the UK construction company Balfour Beatty, which had been seeking UK export credit support for the project, withdrew from the project after parliamentarians, experts and non-governmental organisations had expressed their opposition. Since then, other EU companies have also withdrawn due to environmental, human rights, cultural heritage and other concerns.
The dam was planned without consultation with downstream states, in contravention with international customary law. Even today, decades after construction began, there is no agreement between Turkey, Syria and Iraq on downstream flows; this despite expert reports suggesting that operation of the dam, in conjunction with a further planned project at Cizre, could reduce the flow of the Tigris during dry years to a trickle. There is a very real fear that the project could seriously jeopardizing the water supply of major Iraqi towns, and put agriculture downstream at risk. The UNESCO site of Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq would be threatened with drying out due to reduced downstream flows. The potential for the dam to exacerbate existing regional conflicts, not least over water, is thus severe, a threat recognised by the FCO under previous administrations.
The dam is opposed internationally. Indeed, the announcement of the proposed filling of the reservoir caused protests in Turkey, Iraq, continental Europe and the UK. A particular focus of concern is the loss of the ancient city of Hasankeyf, a site of international historical and cultural importance whose flooding (should the reservoir be filled) would be a loss not just to the region but to humanity as a whole. The threat posed by the Ilisu Dam project prompted the World Monuments Fund to list the city on its 2008 Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.
At a time when the jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan is calling for a resumption of the peace process between the PKK and the Turkish Government, the filling of the reservoir is a provocation to the local Kurdish population, whose opposition to the dam is widespread.
In the interests of peace, international law and sustainable development, we would therefore urge you to use your good office to underline to the Turkey Government the extent of international concern over the project and to urge that the filling of the reservoir be put on hold pending:
a mutual agreement with Iraq and Syria guaranteeing sufficient downstream water flows to safeguard water supplies, agriculture and ecosystems (notably the Mesopotamian Marshes) in Syria and Iraq;
the outcome of a broad, participative, inclusive and transparent discussion with representatives of affected communities, both within Turkey and regionally, aimed at evolving policies for the sustainable and equitable use of the Tigris.
We look forward to your response and remain available for any further information.
The Corner House
Peace in Kurdistan
Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive
The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement
Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK
Kurdish People’s Democratic Assembly, UK
Maxine Peake, actress
Julie Ward MEP
Jill Evans MEP
Margaret Owen OBE, barrister
Dr Radha D’Souza, University of Westminster
Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Cambridge University
Dr Felix Padel, writer
Dr Derek Wall, Department of Politics and International Relations, Goldsmiths College, University of London
Janet Biehl, writer and translator
Ian Lawrence, General Secretary at Napo
Christine Blower, NEU International Secretary
Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary, UNITE
Simon Dubbins, International Director UNITE
Matt Nathan, Campaigns Director, Freedom for Ocalan Campaign
Stephen Smellie, Deputy Convenor, UNISON Scotland
Clare Baker, UNITE International Officer
Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions
Mick Wheelan, ASLEF General Secretary
Alan Mardghum, Secretary of Durham Miners Association
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary TSSA
Steve Sweeney, Intgernational Editor, Morning Star
Father Joe Ryan, Chair of Westminster Justice and Peace Commission
Dr. Isabel Käser, SOAS
Rahila Gupta, writer and journalist
Southall Black Sisters (SBS)
Barry White, NUJ member
Emily Apple, journalist, writer
Jonathan Bloch, writer
Dr Sarah Glynn, architect and academic geographer
Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan
Paul Scholey, Morrish Solicitors
Stephen Knight, barrister, Pump Court Chambers
Dr Thomas Phillips, University of Liverpool
Terry Conway, RedGreen Labour
Bruce Kent, peace activist, CND
Dafydd Iwan, former President Plaid Cymru
Christopher Gingell, Ecologist and Archeologist
Tom Anderson, writer, Shoal Collective/The Canary
Dr Aubrey Nunes, Possible Worlds Clinic
Jonathan Steele, journalist
Lindsey German, Convenor, Stop the War Coalition
Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation
Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)
Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC
Kurdistan Solidarity Network
Solidarity Economy Association
Shoal Radical Writer's Collective
London Kurdish Solidarity
Pelle Hjek, Ground in Hull
Zaher Aarif, writer and activist
John Hunt, journalist
David Morgan, journalist