Urgent Int'l Call: Save Hasankeyf! No filling of the Ilisu Dam Reservoir!

+++ International Urgent Call to Turkish Government and International Public +++

It‘s not too late to SAVE HASANKEYF and Tigris River!

No filling of the Ilisu Dam Reservoir!

For 12.000 years, Hasankeyf in the Southeast of Turkey has been a site of uninterrupted human settlement. With the labour of dozen of cultures this outstanding universal site has been created on the banks of the Tigris River and adjacent small valleys and hills. Recent excavations show that Hasankeyf lays atop of a deep, uncovered cultural heritage. Independent researchers state that Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris Valley are as important historically as Ephesus, Troy and Cappadocia and fulfill 9 out of the 10 UNESCO criteria for a World Heritage Site. It is assumed that Hasankeyf is the twin of Göbeklitepe, a sanctuary site 225 km to the west with a similar age, which led to global new conclusions on history’s first human settlement.

While the Turkish government achieved the inclusion of Göbeklitepe in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris Valley is planned to be flooded by the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant Project, which is almost fully constructed. In recent statements the Turkish government announced that it will start the filling of the Ilisu dam reservoir on June 10, 2019. Officials add that in October 2019 Hasankeyf town would be affected by raising water level.

The Ilisu Project was and is a completely wrong and destructive investment. That is why since the beginning the project it was strongly opposed not only at the local level in Turkey, but also in Iraq, Syria and globally. Contrary to official claims, the dam would have no socio-economic or any other benefit for the majority of society in the affected region and up to 80.000 people would loose their livelihoods. Apart from Hasankeyf, an important part of the not yet excavated cultural heritage in Upper Mesopotamia along the Tigris River would be flooded. The biodiversity of the Tigris River ecosystem – still mainly natural – would be degraded significantly. The Ilisu Project would also gravely affect the downstream stretches of the Tigris, seriously jeopardizing the water supply of major Iraqi towns, and Iraqi agriculture would be put under serious risk. In particular the UNESCO site of Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq would be threatened with drying out due to reduced downstream flows.

In the last few years, the government’s program of so-called “monument relocation and consolidation of rocks” has seriously damaged the cultural heritage in Hasankeyf. But there is still so much cultural heritage left to rescue. Despite the project near completion, we believe strongly that the cancellation of the Ilisu project would stimulate a process from which the broader local population, Turkey and Iraq would benefit directly, economically as well as socially and culturally.

We call upon on the Turkish government not to start the filling by the Ilisu Dam, neither in June nor later. Instead a new broad, participative and transparent discussion with all representatives of the local population on the future of the affected five provinces should be started. Based on the common outcomes of these participatory discussions, policies on the future of the Tigris Valley and the surrounding region should be developed and implemented with the agreement of all affected parties. Another condition should be the achievement of a mutual agreement with Iraq and Syria according to international law, which should guarantee sufficient water flows into the Mesopotamian Marshes and southern Iraq.

We call on all people and organizations all around the world to support our demands and to launch similar calls on the Turkish government!

A call by:

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Turkey

Save the Tigris Campaign, Iraq

Mountain Watch, Iran

Humat Dijlah, Iraq

Make Rojava Green Again, Rojava/Syria

Mesopotamia Ecology Movement, Turkey

Waterkeeper Iraq, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Hasankeyf Matters, Turkey

Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), Iraq

Ecology Union, Turkey

Munzur Environmental Association, Turkey

Iraqi Social Forum, Iraq

Green Rage Ecology Collective, Turkey

People’s Campaign to Support Kind Zagros, Iran

TMMOB (Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects) Urban Planners, Ankara Branch, Turkey

Civil Development Organization (CDO), Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Campaign Right to Water, Turkey

350Ankara, Turkey

Çoruh Conservation Union, Turkey

Life and Solidarity Travelers, Turkey

Green Resistence – Ecology and Life Newspaper, Turkey

Antalya Ecology Council, Turkey

Alakır Sister-/Brotherhood, Turkey

HDK Ecology Council, Turkey

Black Sea Region in Rebellion, Turkey

Northern Forests Defense, Turkey

Children of Nature (Doğanın Çocukları), Türkiye

EGEÇEP (Aegean Platform for Environment and Culture), Turkey

AYÇEP (Aydın Platform for Environment and Culture), Turkey

Yeni Foça Forum, Turkey

Salihli Environment Association, Turkey

Halk İmdat, Turkey

Saqiz Environment Protectors, Saqiz, Kurdistan, Iran

Shney Piro Institution, Muchish, Kurdistan/Iran

Kareza Environmental Institution, Kurdistan/Iran

Shney Nojin Institution, Kurdistan/Iran

Helebce Environmental Protector, Halabja, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Kurd Organization for Environment and Education, Halabja, Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Green Kurdistan Population, Kurdistan/Iran

Pajin Institution, Bane, Kurdistan/Iran

Green Chiya Institution, Meriwan, Kurdistan/Iran

Lebanon Eco Movement

Eco-Conscience, Tunisia

The Peoples’ Advocacy Foundation for Justice and Redress, South Africa

Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition), Asia

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Pakistan

Environment Support Group, India

Tajik Social and Ecological Union, Tajikistan
Inter-American Vigilance for the Defense and the Right to Water (Red VIDA), The Americas
Chile Sustainable, Chile
April Foundation (Fundacion Abril), Bolivia

Movement of Defence of Water, Land and Environment (MODATIMA), Chile

Movement of Dam Affected People (MAB), Brazil

Friends of Earth, El Salvador

Veracruz Assembly of Initiators to Defend the Environment (La Asamblea Veracruzana de Iniciativas y Defensa Ambiental), Mexico

Center of Applied Studies on Ecology and Environmental Sustainability (Ecos El Salvador) (Centro de Estudios Aplicados en Ecología y Sustentabilidad Ambiental), El Salvador

National Forum of Water Central America (Foro Nacional del Agua Centro América), El Salvador

Federacion National de Trabajadores del Agua Potable y Alcantarillado del Peru (FENTAP), Peru

Otros Mundos Chiapas A.C., Mexico

European Water Movement

Earth Thrive, Balkan

Odbranimo reke Stare planine, Serbia

Ekologistak Martxan, Basque Country

Network for a New Water Culture (XNCA), Catalonia

End of Territory (Ende Gelände), Germany

Ecologists in Action, Spain

World Heritage Watch (WHW), Germany

Platform in Defence of the Ebro River, Catalonia

Un Ponte Per (UPP), Italy

CounterCurrent, Germany

The Corner House, UK

Friends of Earth, France

Italian Forum of Water Movements

Riverwatch – Society for the Protection of Rivers, Austria

Animals Are Sentient Beings, USA

Coordination EAU Île-de-France, France

Plan C, UK

Shoal Collective, UK

Hasankeyf Initiative Berlin, Germany

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA

Coordination EAU bien commun, France

Urgewald, Germany

Idle No More SF Bay, California/USA

EcoMujer, Germany

Solidarity Economy Association, UK

FreshWater Accountability Project, USA

Plataforma Ciudadana Zaragoza sin Fractura, Spain

Association of Popular Culture Alborada, Gallur/Spain

International Rivers, USA

Solifonds, Switzerland

Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Netherlands

Ecological Center DRONT, Russia

Ecosocialist Horizons, USA

Socio-Ecological Union International, Russia

Biodiversity Conservation Center, Russia

Earth Law Centre, USA

Green Anti-Capitalist Front, UK

Cambridge Social Ecology Group, UK

Integral Cooperative of Heraklion, Crete/Greece

BankTrack, Netherlands

Komite Internazionalistak, Basque Country

Italian Committee For World Water Contract, Italy

Earth Guardians, USA

European Sanitation Initiative (EuSAIN)

Berlin Water Table, Germany

ENVJUSTICE-EJAtlas project, ICTA – Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia

Babylonia Journal, Greece

Montpellierian Collective of Solidarity with the Kurdish People, France

Rete Kurdistan, Italy

Basque Platform of Solidarity with Kurdistan, Basque Country

Kurdistan Solidarity Network, UK

Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign, UK

Kurdistan Solidarity Committee Berlin, Germany

Hevalen-Gr, Collective of Solidarity with the Kurdish Struggle, Crete/Greece

Revolutionary Communist Group, UK

Transnational Institute of Social Ecology (TRISE), Greece

Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT), Spain

Platform for a new Energy Model (Plataforma por un Nuevo Modelo Energético), Spain


More information:



Email: hasankeyfgirisimi@gmail.com

Twitter: @hasankeyfdicle

Facebook: www.facebook.com/hasankeyfyasatmagirisimi

Final Declaration of Mesopotamia Ecology Movement: Water is under assault in Mesopotamia

University of Sulaimani, Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region of Iraq 6-8 April 2019

Over-extraction; the draining of marshes and wetlands; deforestation; too many irrigation projects, poorly-drained land; pesticides and fertiliser run-off; contamination by poorly or often un-treated discharges from industry as well as households; the widespread building of large and cascade small dams; the increasing exploitation of groundwater aquifers; stream channelization; inter catchment water transfer schemes; and the ravages of fossil-fuel-induced climatic change have variously disrupted hydrological cycles and created conditions of severe local and regional scarcity. For human and non-human beings, such physical scarcities have been exacerbated by policies aimed at commodifying and/or politicising water, denying access to the common good of water.


Taken separately, each of those assaults would be cause for grave concern. Taken together, they pose a threat to the collective survival of humans and non-humans alike. Defending water and the right of all forms of life to access to water, in Mesopotamia, is now a critical civic duty: without water, there can be no life.

Water is a crucial element of our culture and spirituality. Many legends, myths, songs, poems, prayers, and dances are centered on water. This has been the case since humans settled in Mesopotamia up to 13.000 years ago.

Within Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran – the four states through which the rivers of the Mesopotamian Basin flow – the multiple crises affecting water are no accident. For the past century or more, governments, business interests and the military have recklessly pursued policies that have polluted and degraded the region’s rivers and ecosystems.

Hundred of thousands have been forcibly displaced from their homes to make way for dams and water transfer projects. The riverine environment has been severely degraded, threatening the survival of many species of flora and fauna; the health of citizens has been put at risk; and economic and social inequalities have increased.

None of this has gone unchallenged. Throughout the Mesopotamian region, vibrant movements for environmental and social justice have long sought to exercise their constitutional rights to campaign for access to clean and safe water. In many instances, they have been met by arrest, imprisonment or worse.

Committed to working for peaceful, sustainable and equitable solutions to these multiple injustices, over 150 water activists from the region, together with like-minded colleagues from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe, gathered at the University of Sulaimani in the Kurdistan region of Iraq from 6-8 April 2019 to participate in the first ever Mesopotamian Water Forum.

We met in the spirit of solidarity and mutual learning. We interrogated the many causes of water scarcity, exploring the complex ways in which demand for water is mediated through economic and social systems. We learned how the intensive construction of dams and other water infrastructure schemes have created water scarcity.

We explored alternative ways of managing water in the interests of the many, not the few. We heard of new initiatives, notably in the Rojava/Northeastern region of war-torn Syria, to evolve new participatory approaches to water governance, involving all citizens – regardless of ethnicity, gender or religion – in bottom-up, consensual approaches to decision-making.

We people of Mesopotamia – and the allies present at the Mesopotamian Water Forum – affirmed that, despite our diverse cultural, social, political and environmental realities, our struggles are one, and we expressed our solidarity with all those who struggle for water justice in the region and internationally.

We resolved to:

  1. Challenge destructive and exploitative water policies in the region, recognising the particular burden on women and other oppressed identities, and addressing their underlying causes.
  1. Mobilise support for negotiated agreements under legally binding international law that would ensure the equitable sharing of water of the Euphrates and Tigris for the benefit of all life, both human and non-human, in the region;

  1. Stand against the use of water as a weapon for hegemony and to work to ensure that water is a tool for cooperation and sustainable peace. Upstream states in Mesopotamia must ensure the rights of people downstream to water.
  1. Call for an end to the recent cutting of water flows by Turkey and Iran to Syria and Iraq.
  1. Call to prevent the flooding of the 12000-year-old city of Hasankeyf caused by the Ilisu Dam and to preserve the unique natural and cultural heritage of the Iraqi Mesopotamian Marshlands from degradation.
  1. Build alliances, nationally, regionally and internationally to evolve policies and practices that would democratise water management.
  1. Ensure that water is used in ways that prioritise the collective right of all, rather than the few, to survival;
  1. Considering that most diverted water goes to irrigation, the following points are crucial: For farmers in a subsistence economy, clean water is vital, which is why in areas close to water no chemicals should be used. As hybrid seeds and GMO seeds require too much water and harm the ecosystems, local seeds should be used. Animal shelter should not be built close to water so that no serious harm is caused to waters. The water used in agriculture should not be contaminated by industry. Irrigation close to the water course is feasible, but no water should be transferred to areas far away from the water course. Thus, instead of transfering water to plants, plants appropriate to the climate and precipitation regime should be cultivated.
  1. The pollution and destruction of the Tigris River starts in an intensive way far upstream. One reason for this is that the river has no river status in the upstream stretch until Bismil city. We call for an international campaign to declare the river status for the upper-most stretch of the Tigris River.
  1. To strengthen the Save the Tigris Campaign (STC) as a network through which water activists in Mesopotamia can exchange information and analysis, explore commonalities and differences, prepare common statements and reports and organize common activities/campaigns.
  1. Develop the Mesopotamian Water Forum as an open space for advocating for new decision-making processes at municipal, national and regional levels through which environmentally and socially just water policies can be inclusively formulated and promoted.
  1. Implement the specific recommendations made by workshops at the Forum, listed in the appended Annex.
  1. We have committed to organise the 2nd Mesopotamian Water Forum in Diyarbakir (Amed) / Turkey in the near future.

Main contributing organizations:

  • Save the Tigris Campaign (STC)
  • Humat Dijla (Tigris Keepers), Iraq
  • Mesopotamia Ecology Movement, North Kurdistan
  • Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), Iraq
  • Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Turkey
  • People’s Campaign to Save the Kind Zagros, Iran
  • Waterkeepers Iraq, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • Make Rojava Green Again Campaign, Rojava/Northeast Syria
  • Ecology Union, Turkey
  • Mountain Watch, Iran
  • DOZ international, Northeast Syria
  • KAREZE Environmental Organization, Iran
  • Mlakawa Organisation, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • Nature, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
  • EcoPeace, Middle East
  • Lebanon Eco Movement, Lebanon
  • Rivers Without Boundaries, East and North Asia
  • Movement of Defence of Water, Land and Environment (MODATIMA), Chile
  • Un Ponte Per, Italy
  • Corner House, UK
  • International Rivers, USA
  • First Ecosocialist International
  • Ecosocialist Horizons, USA
  • Water Grabbing Observatory, Italy
  • Italian Forum of Water Movement, Italy

More information:


PR: Disaster Flood in the Tigris – Made by a Turkish Dam

ANF Images
ANF Images

On the evening of the 13th December 2018 one of the three spillway gates of the Dicle Dam at the Tigris River in Turkish-Kurdistan has broken. Since then the water level in more than 200 km downstream river stretch increased up to 6 meters and flooded a big area of land along the river with hundreds of affected settlements. Fortunately nobody died, but the physical and agricultural destruction is enormous and unique for the last decades.

The Dicle Dam1 has been constructed for electricity, irrigation and drinking water supply in the north of the province of Diyarbakir with a height of 75 m and a volume of 595 Mio. m³ and is in full operations since 2000. Its reservoir has been filled so much after long and intensive rainfalls that the dam operator, the state owned energy company EÜAŞ, had to activate the spillway in order to release water from the dam reservoir. The result of the bursting of one of the three gates is the release of constantly 1600 m³ per second water. This will continue until the water level in the dam reservoir will fall 11 meters which is expected for these days. Considering that the annual average flow of the Tigris in this river stretch is less than 100 m³/sec the dimension of the flood is better understandable.

Before the construction of the Dicle and the upper Kralkizi Dam – also large – the Tigris had every 10-15 years such a high flow rate. The people along the Tigris organized live corresponding to these natural floods which have been cut with the operation of these two dams. Since 2000 people started to settle down in the former flooding areas of the Tigris River. As there were several hours for the warning by state authorities no people have been killed by the flood. But many thousands people spent the night outside with temperatures around zero degree. Among the affected areas is also the lower parts of the historical Hevsel Gardens in the city of Diyarbakir which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Also the city neighbourhood Dicle, a number of cafeterias in the urban area, several fisheries, more than 15 sand querries and other business facilities have been destroyed partly or completely.

It is assumed that due to poor maintenance and lack of training of the dam personal the gate of the dam spillway has burst. The day after the chamber of civil engineers (IMO) of Diyarbakir stated that these two aspects may have contributed mainly to this disaster2. In this framework for example the gates need to be replaced on time what is questioned. In the first days after the bursting of the gate, the risk was very high that the other two gates could experience the same and the upper Kralkizi Dam as well because the Kralkizi dam was also full and rains continued; luckily at a low level. The IMO criticized furthermore that “the DSI (State Hydraulic Works; responsible state body for water policies) did not take the right decisions when one week before the disaster the rain started. Because of economic reasons the dam reservoir has not been emptied at an early stage. Probably it was supposed the rain would stop soon.“ Since the disaster the dam site is controlled by the army and only few DSI employees are observed. Very limited information is shared.

The chamber of geology engineers (JMO) of Diyarbakir raised that a critical problem is that the Tigris in the upper 150 km stretch and several large tributaries are categorized only as a creek3. This status means that no areas of flood risk have been classified along the Tigris river which includes the urban area of Diyarbakir. If necessary flood risk plans would have been developed and corresponding measures against settlements and other constructions in the wetlands taken, thousands of people would have not been affected gravely. In its statement on the 17th December 2018, the JMO proposed a plan how to implement a better policy. It needs to be stated that profession organisations like JMO or IMO are not included in any planning or discussion on dam and water policies.

The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement (MEM) critized that the current state policies aim to dominate fully nature with engineering and narrow economic approaches. „One day the nature will strike back, but in a harsh way. What we need is less extractivism and more harmony with nature. In the next days we will understand better the destruction. We think that with the mentality the state will be the source for more disasters. We need no large dams, but small solutions for water supply, developed and operated by local people which lead to much less consumption. The Tigris should not be used for electricity, rather the river ecosystem needs to be renaturated.“

The disaster caused by bursting of the spillway gate of the Dicle Dam shows how problematic and destructive the dam policies of the Turkish state is organized. It focus on maximum production of electricity and irrigation without taking into consideration peoples rights to land, livelihoods and basic services, balance and diversity of ecosystems and cultural heritage (Tigris within Turkish state is source of first human settlements). The state constructs and operates dams and related water infrastructures without any participation and transparency.

In this sense the worst case is the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant at the lower Tigris in construction. If constructed it will lead to grave social, cultural, ecological and downstream impacts and consequently is one of the most controversial dams worldwide. There is still time to stop construction of the Ilisu Dam which is equivalent to highest destruction along 136 km Tigris River and 250 km tributaries and even in the downstream river parts until South Iraq.

Source for the attached pictures Firat News Agency (ANF), 18.12.2018: https://anfturkce.com/toplum-ekolojI/dicle-iki-bin-yildir-boeyle-bir-manzarayla-karsilasmadi-117542

Press Release, 19.12.2018

Mesopotamia Ecology Movement
Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive

Email: mehdiplo@riseup.net and hasankeyfgirisimi@gmail.com
More information: www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net and www.mezopotamyaekoloji.org


1See official website of the State Hydraulic Works (DSI), the responsible body in the Turkish for rivers and dams: https://web.archive.org/web/20140702210026/http://www2.dsi.gov.tr/baraj/detayeng.cfm?BarajID=174

3See Mezopotamya Ajansi, 17.12.2018. Link: https://mezopotamyaajansi.com/tum-haberler/content/view/42496

Call to the Mesopotamian Water Forum

We are very happy to announce the first civil society forum on water in the Middle East: the Mesopotamian Water Forum! The Mesopotamian Water Forum will be held between April 5-7, 2019 in Silemani (Sulaymaniyah) in South (Iraqi) Kurdistan and organized by civil society actors from the states of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.


Among them particularly the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign needs to be mentioned. The forum will be an open space for all who are interested in social and ecological alternatives on the management of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and their tributories. The marginalized and excluded people from the Mesopotamia region will discuss with academicians, municipalities, local activists and NGO representatives (also from other regions) how the ongoing destruction can be limited and stoped and how the right to water for all people can be achieved in short and long term. We consider water as a tool for cooperation and peace among all ethnicities, religions and social groups in the whole Mesopotamia region which is affected heavily also by wars.

We invite everybody to contribute to the main papers of the three main topics of the conference (Dams, pollution and community water management) which will be published in advance of the event to kickstart the discussions. Visit our page for more information and save the date!
Mesopotamia Ecology Movement
Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign

Bresser’s conduct in last year’s relocation of the Zeynel Bey Tomb did not comply with OECD Guidelines

*** The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive *** Hasankeyf Matters *** FIVAS – The Association for International Water Studies ***

Press Release, 20 August 2018


The Dutch NCP for the OECD Guidelines has concluded that Bresser, a small to medium-size Dutch enterprise, has not fully met the expectations and satisfied the due diligence criteria of the OECD Guidelines.” in the project to relocate the Zeynel Bey Tomb, in Hasankeyf, in Southeastern Turkey. The tomb is a late-15th-century monument of extraordinary cultural value and a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of the region. Its relocation impacts the human right to culture of the affected people. Companies of all sizes are expected to consider and minimize the potential impact of their activities on human rights.


The NCP notes that Bresser made some effort to carry out due diligence with regard to the involvement of the local community, but recommends that Bresser adopt a more structural approach before engaging into a project, in order to avoid contributing to adverse human rights impacts. In order to avoid a violation of the human right to culture, a broad consultation with all stakeholders, including the local community, should have been conducted prior to the removal of the Zeynel Bey Tomb. The NCP’s statement also confirms that under the Guidelines, companies of all sizes, regardless of their location in the supply chain, are responsible for conducting adequate due diligence in order to prevent adverse impacts to human rights, including the right to culture/the right to cultural heritage and its conservation.


On August 20, the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP) for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (“the Guidelines”) published its final statement concerning the notification about Bresser. The final statement notes that the parties did not reach an agreement through a mediated dialogue. In its final statement, the NCP recommends changes in Bresser’s behavoir The notification was filed by the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive (Turkey), Hasankeyf Matters (Turkey), and the Association for International Water Studies (FIVAS, Norway).

Bresser, working as a sub-contractor to the Turkish firm Er-Bu İnşaat, supplied the technology and skills essential to the relocation of the Zeynel Bey Tomb. The monument was built as the burial place of an Akkuyunlu prince killed in battle against the Ottomans in 1473. The tomb was relocated on May 12, 2017, under the protection of armed security forces, as part of the controversial Ilisu Dam project, which is expected to flood the ancient city of Hasankeyf and large parts of the Tigris River Valley.

Plaintiffs urge Bresser to cease work in Hasankeyf

The organizations that filed the complaint have asked Bresser to cease all activity in Hasankeyf until a proper human rights assessment and the attendant due diligence are carried out. The plaintiffs maintain that Bresser’s contribution to moving the Tomb without the involvement and consent of the local population and other stakeholders makes the company responsible for a violation of the human right to culture. A sufficient due diligence would have made it possible for the company to identify and mitigate the adverse impacts. By moving the monument without consultation and infringing upon human rights, the project is also in breach of both Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (CETS 121) as well as what is considered best practice for a European structural relocation company.

The NCP’s recommendations

The NCP states that that Bresser should have used its leverage “as a supplier of essential technical knowledge and experience” and should have “ensured more thoroughly with the main contractor [Er-Bu İnşaat] and/or DSI, that procedures are in place providing sufficient opportunities for stakeholders to participate in project development and implementation.” The NCP states that this case shows that Bresser has not fully carried out the due diligence necessary to satisfy the expectations of the criteria of the OECD guidelines. The NCP further notes that Bresser did some efforts to carry out due diligence, but these measures were not adequate to meet fully the expectations established by the Guidelines. The NCP recommends that the company adopt a more structured approach and show a clearer inclusion of risks external to the company in their risk management system.

All companies have a responsibility to conduct due diligence

This decision is noteworthy for the international business community, as it affirms that all companies, including SMEs, have a responsibility to conduct risk-based due diligence under the Guidelines. The NCP acknowledges that “the size of the enterprise does not affect its responsibility to conduct due diligence, but may affect its manner of carrying out due diligence.”

It is also worth nothing that the Dutch NCP confirms that cultural rights are part of human rights, meaning that international businesses of all sizes and status in supply chains should include the potential adverse impacts on cultural rights and the right to cultural heritage and its conservation as part of human rights risk-based due diligence processes.

The project continues to deny the right to stakeholder consultation

It is alarming to observe that Bresser continues to assist Er-Bu and the DSI in the removal of select architectural elements. On August 6, the historic hamam (bath) was relocated using techniques similar to those used in removing the tomb, but now with even less transparency/public disclosure. The project continues to exclude a broad cross-section of relevant stakeholders, including the local community and independent experts in cultural heritage conservation, from the selection of monuments, the manner of removal, and their future location.

While the final statement makes clear that Bresser’s actions and policies have not fully met the expectations established in the Guidelines, the fact that Bresser continues to participate in the removal of Hasankeyf monuments, with virtually no change in its behavior, raises questions about how the OECD Guidelines can help commercial enterprises to identify potential synergies between ethical corporate behavior and the creation of economic value.

We call upon Bresser to halt all work in Hasankeyf until the cultural heritage conservation project is conducted in a way that meets the expectations established in the Guidelines.

For more information, please contact:

Impoundment of Ilisu Dam Reservoir has not yet started – Drought in Iraq has other reasons

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive +++ Hasankeyf Matters

Press statement, 11.06.2018

On June 1, 2018 news began to circulate that the impoundment of the reservoir of the controversial Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River in the Kurdish Southeast of the Republic of Turkey had started. The Turkish State Water Works (DSI) announced that with the closing of the first valves of the three diversion tunnels the filling of the reservoir had begun. This development overlapped with urgent news from Iraq, where the Tigris River had fallen to historically low levels. This situation has resulted in discussions that have become even more urgent in Iraq than discussion of the recent elections.Hasankeyf-Action_2017-09-23_4

The drought in Iraq is not related to the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant (HEPP) Project, which is still under construction and is one of the most controversial dam projects worldwide due to its expected grave destructive impacts on people, culture and nature. Work continues at different locations and has not progressed far enough to allow the impoundment of the huge reservoir. For example, the long bridge near the ancient city of Hasankeyf will not be completed before the beginning of 2019. Approximately six monuments in Hasankeyf are planned for relocation to New-Hasankeyf by the end of this year, provided that there is no delay (which has usually been the case ). Furthermore, official disputes over the expropriation process are ongoing and have the potential to delay the project further. Nor have residential units in New-Hasankeyf been completed. Finally, there has been no clear indication yet that the hydroelectric power plant is ready to operate.

If we read the recent announcement carefully, the DSI states that the impoundment of water will actually begin with the closure of the third diversion tunnel. This cannot happen before six months, as the filling of each tunnel takes around 3 months, according to DSI statements1. The capacity of the three tunnels is so big that since the completion of these tunnels in 2012, a second tunnel has been used to divert the flow of the Tigris River for days at a time. Therefore, the closure of one tunnel does not affect the level of water downstream.

In addition, it makes no sense operationally to start filling the reservoir in June, as the highest flow rate of the Tigris River is usually between March and April. In summer and fall, the water in the river is usually very low. Furthermore, as there has been between 10 and 20 percent less precipitation in the Tigris River basin due to climate change in recent years, water reserves in the entire region are shrinking.

The current crisis in Iraq is the result of decreasing precipitation over the past 20 years due to global climate change. The situation this year is particularly dire. Not only has the lack of snow in the mountains feeding the Tigris this winter contributed to the historically low water levels, but catastrophic water policies of all states in the Tigris River Basin have also played a significant role. The water projects with the most severe impacts include dams constructed in recent decades in the Turkish and Iranian part of the Tigris River basin, the current cutting of water in the rivers Shirvan and Small Zap coming from Iran, the Mosul Dam, intensive irrigation in North-Middle Iraq, and weak maintenance of water infrastructure within Iraq. It is sad to see that in and around Baghdad people can cross the Tigris by walking. But we, with the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign, have urged regularly the public of Iraq in the last years that such a crisis will come if no measures are taken and dam building in upstream parts continues. Now it is happening.

Turkish government officials have stated in recent days that they will delay the impounding until July 1, 20182. However, since March 2018 they claim to take into consideration Iraqi concerns and delay the impoundment, but as technically the project is not ready to impound see our argumentation above – this is only misleading news. Turkey refers to an action that it is not yet able to fulfill in order to suggest it is being flexible and cooperative. There are ample examples where the Turkish government has used dams as weapons against its downstream neighbors. While Turkey has not signed the UN Convention on Non-Navigational Use of International Watercourses from 1997, it idoes not feel to be bounded by international law to take into consideration peoples rights on the Tigris and Euphrates in Iraq and Syria. The Iraqi government should act promptly and firmly to use international legal and diplomatic mechanisms to protect the rights and interests of its citizens rights against Turkey and Iran.

Finally we call upon the Turkish Government to suspend immediately its implementation of the Ilisu HEPP Project, which is causing widespread cultural and environmental destruction, threatens the economic and social well-being of all people in the basin, and increases the potential for conflict. The worldwide civil society is requested to demand the cancellation of the Ilisu Project until there is a new democratic, participative and transparent process on this project in Turkey which also includes Iraq and Syria. It is never too late to stop such a destructive and controversial project from which people and nature will not benefit!

Initiative to Keep Hasankef Alive



Hasankeyf Matters


Information on impacts on Iraq see Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign:


1See DSI Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ilisuprojesi/
2See news June 10, 2018: http://www.milliyet.com.tr/komsu-susuz-birakilmayacak-siyaset-2685846/

Open Letter to UK Prime Minister Theresa May

by: Mesopotamian Ecology Movement +++ Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive +++ The Corner House +++ Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

to:Rt Hon. Theresa May MP

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street, London, SW1A 2AA

The Ilisu Dam and Turkey’s use of water as a weapon of war

April 28, 2018

Dear Prime Minister,

We write as civil society organizations to draw your attention to the imminent impoundment by Turkey of the Ilisu Dam on River Tigris in contravention of international customary law relating to shared waterways, which requires negotiation and agreement on downstream flows. The announced impoundment of Ilisu comes at a time when Turkey is recklessly and illegally using water as a weapon of war against Northern Syria, denying those affected of their right to water, threatening to exacerbate the existing conflicts in the region and causing severe suffering to those who have already suffered seven years of brutal civil war. We would urge you to protest Turkey’s intended impoundment of Ilisu and to use all available diplomatic means to mediate a peaceful and fair settlement between Turkey, Syria and Iraq on the use of their shared rivers.

Turkey has pushed ahead with the Ilisu Dam project despite widespread international opposition. Funding for the project was refused by the World Bank because of concerns over downstream impacts and, in 2001, the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department signalled its unwillingness to support Balfour Beatty’s intended participation in the project, due in large part to similar concerns. Several other European Union countries have also declined to fund the project.

If the impoundment goes ahead as planned, the dam and its reservoir would destroy the livelihoods of up to 80.000 people, mainly Kurds, and flood the ancient city of Hasankeyf. Turkey’s current resettlement and cultural heritage salvage plans are wholly inadequate. Moreover, the downstream ecological impacts of the dam have barely been investigated, let alone mitigated.

Both Syria and particularly Iraq rely on the Tigris River, which is the vital water source for agriculture and urban centres. The storage capacity of the Ilisu reservoir would allow Turkey to halt flow of the Tigris to Iraq for months; and, even if operated without hostile intent, the dam, when combined with proposed irrigation schemes, would severely reduce downstream flows, increasing levels of salts in the water and gravely violating the right to clean water for downstream riparian people. The impacts would reach as far as the southern Mesopotamian Marshes, an area that was drained under Saddam Hussain but which has now been restored. The Marshes have been approved as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016.

Turkey has not signed the UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses but international customary law requires mutual agreement between Turkey, Iraq and Syria on the use of shared waterways. Turkey has failed to reach such an agreement with its riparian neighbours over the use of the Tigris. Instead it has taken advantage of conflicts in Iraq and Syria to push ahead with a dam building programme that threatens further conflict by allowing Turkey to control the flows of the Euphrates and Tigris. Ilisu is a central part of this political project.

The Turkish government is now using its control over water as a weapon against those territories in Syria which have been liberated by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and which are now administered by the Democratic Federation of Northern Syrian. In the spring and summer of 2017, as well as in recent weeks, Turkey cut the flow of the River Euphrates significantly, violating an agreement signed with the Syrian Government in 1987 to ensure a downstream flow of at least 500 m3/s at the Turkish-Syrian border. As documented in the attached report, only half of the agreed water amount was released.

There are therefore well-founded fears that the impoundment of Ilisu will be similarly used as a weapon of war, further exacerbating conflict in the region. The Turkish government says that the dam is nearly completed; but, in our view, it is not too late to reconsider. There is no urgent need for the planned electricity from the Ilisu Project in Turkey and protests on the ground and internationally continue to attract increasing support.

We request that the UK use its influence on Turkey to press for the impoundment of the Ilisu Dam Reservoir to be halted until agreements on downstream flows in the Tigris have been reached with the Iraqi and Syrian governments, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria as well as affected people and critical civil society organizations in Turkey and Iraq. Negotiations should include the option not to operate the almost completed Ilisu Dam project. We believe that the UK can, and should, act in a mediating role.

We look forward to hear from you and are open to share more our positions on the Ilisu Project.

Yours Sincerely

Mesopotamian Ecology Movement

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive

The Corner House

Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Solidarity Economy Association

Brighton Kurdistan Solidarity

Kurdish People’s Assembly UK

Roj – Kurdish Women’s Assembly UK

Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK

Jullie Ward MEP

Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary

Clare Baker, International Officer UNITE

Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director

Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU)

Bert Schouwenburg, International Officer, GMB

Steve Sweeney, International Editor, Morning Star

Thomas Schmidt, Secretary General, ELDH European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights

Martha Mundy, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, LSE (in a personal capacity)

Yagmur Savran, Researcher at University of Bradford

Olga Vlagkouli, Project Architect

Rahila Gupta, journalist and writer

Dr Derek Wall, Lecturer in Political Economy, Goldsmith College

Dr Felix Padel, Oxford University

Lynn Wilde, University of Liverpool

Dr. Tom Wakeford, Coventry University

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

John Hunt, journalist

Jonathan Bloch, writer

Antony Shephard, graphic designer

Les Levidow, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC)

Stephen Smellie, Deputy Covenor, UNISON Scotland

Margaret Gallacher, Chairperson, South Lanarkshire Unison and Secretary of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan

Dr Sarah Glynn, Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan

Sarah Parker, translator

Dr Dylan Musphy, teacher/historian

Fatma Kayhan, writer

Amber Huff, researcher

Salima Tashdemir, researcher

Pinar Akpinar, Sussex Kurdish Community

Jo Magpie, Journalist

Maude Casey, writer

Helen O’Neill, Social Worker

Brian Drummond, Minister

Martha Salter

Becky Hobbs

Meredith Tax, author, US

Kariane Westrheim, Professor, Department of Education, Faculty of Psychology, University of Bergen, Norway

Eirik Eiglad, New Compass Press, Norway

Dr. Gina Lennox, Alison Buckley, Zirian Fatah – Kurdish Lobby Australia

For information contact:

Estella: estella24@tiscali.co.uk

Mobile: 07846 666804

Peace in Kurdistan

Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question

Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk


Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Gingell – Tel: 020 7272 7890

Patrons: John Austin, Christine Blower, NUT International Secretary, Prof Bill Bowring, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Mary Davis, Lord Dholakia, Simon Dubbins, UNITE International Director, Jill Evans MEP, Lindsey German, Convenor STWC, Melanie Gingell, Rahila Gupta, Nick Hildyard, Dafydd Iwan, Former President Plaid Cymru, James Kelman, Bruce Kent, Jean Lambert MEP, Elfyn Llwyd, Aonghas MacNeacail, Scottish Gaelic poet, Mike Mansfield QC, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary, GFTU, Dr. Jessica Ayesha Northey, International Coordinator, Green Party of England and Wales;; Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy, Dr Thomas Jeffrey Miley, Kate Osamor MP, Margaret Owen OBE, Gareth Peirce, Dr Felix Padel, Maxine Peake, Lord Rea, Joe Ryan, Stephen Smellie, Steve Sweeney, Dr Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Dr Tom Wakeford, Dr Derek Wall, Julie Ward MEP, Hywel Williams MP.

In 30 cities actions for Hasankeyf and Sur

+++ Plattform Nein zur Zerstörun von Sur +++ Istanbul Sur Solidaritätsplattform +++ Ökologiebewegung Mesopotamiens +++ Initiative zur Rettung von Hasankeyf +++ Rat Munzur soll frei fließen +++

Diyarbakir (Amed), 28.04.2018

Knapp 30 Städte weltweit beteiligen sich am Globalen Aktionstag für Sur und Hasankeyf am 28. April 2018

Am 28. April 2018 wurden in sieben Städten Nord-Kurdistans und der Türkei und in mehr als 20 Städten aus zehn Ländern Aktionen für die Verteidigung von Sur und Hasankeyf am Tigris durchgeführt. Sie haben ein starkes Zeichen gegen die laufende Zerstörungen dieser beiden antiken und bewohnten Orte in Nord-Kurdistan (Südosten der Türkei) gesetzt. Beide Orte sind zu Synonymen der Repressionspolitik des türkischen Staates gegen Kultur, Natur und Menschen geworden.

Das 12.000 Jahre alte Hasankeyf und das umliegende Tigristal soll durch den Staudamm Ilisu überflutet werden. Dies würde zu katastrophalen sozialen, kulturellen und ökologischen Folgen führen und der Türkei die Möglichkeit geben, dem Irak das Wasser abzugraben. Wir sagen jedoch, dass Entwicklung mit Hasankeyf stattfinden muss und Wasser ein Medium für Frieden und nicht für Krieg sein sollte.

Sur, die befestige Altstadt von Amed (Diyarbakir) und UNESCO Welterbe, wurde nach dem in 2015 begonnenen Krieges des türkischen Staates gegen die KurdInnen angegriffen und ihre Bewohner vertrieben. Bisher ist die Hälfte von Sur, einschließlich 170 Denkmäler, systematisch zerstört worden. Sur muss wieder so aufgebaut werden, dass alle vertriebenen Einwohner von Sur zurückkehren.

Am frühen Morgen des 28. Aprils haben sich in Sur vor der Hauptmoschee (Ulucami) AktivistInnen, Vertreter diverser Organisationen und oppositionelle Politiker versammelt, um die Aufhebung der Blockade, den Stopp der Zerstörungen und die Rückkehr der Vertriebenen zu fordern. Trotz Behinderungen der Polizei beharrten sie auf das Recht einer Erklärung vor der Presse. Dann ging es in die noch nicht zerstörten engen Gassen der Altstadt.

In Hasankeyf versammelten sich Vertreter der Zivilgesellschaft und oppositionelle Politiker, um die besonders seit 2017 laufenden Zerstörungen in Hasankeyf zu protestieren. Es wurde betont, dass nach wie vor die große Mehrheit der Gesellschaft gegen den Ilisu Staudamm ist und ihn nicht will. Der Kampf wird bis zum letzten Moment weitergehen.

Sowohl in Sur als auch Hasankeyf wurden die Zerstörungen als eine neue Form von kulturellen Genozid bezeichnet und die sensible Zivilgesellschaft in aller Welt zu Kritik und Protest aufgerufen. Die demokratische Weltöffentlichkeit habe eine gewisse Mıtverantwortung zur Verteidigung von Sur und Hasankeyf.

Vier Solidaritätsaktionen in den türkischen Städten Istanbul, Izmir, Ankara und Antalya stachen hervor. Trotz der Kriegs- und Repressionspolitik gegenüber der ganzen Gesellschaft der Türkei ist es beeindruckend, dass eine Solidarität weitergeht.

Die internationalen Aktionen fanden in einer Reihe von europäischen Ländern mit Schwerpunkt in Deutschland und außerdem im Iran statt. Noch haben wir nicht von allen Orten ausführliche Berichte erhalten. Die Aktionen hatten eine breite Spannbreite, von Kundgebung, Infostand bis über Bilderausstellungen und Filmvorführungen. Hasankeyf wurde als Symbol gegen die zerstörerische und ausbeuterische neoliberale Investitionspolitik hervorgehoben. Die Zerstörung von Sur als einzigartig im negativen in der Menschheitsgeschichte hervorgestellt. Sowohl die UNESCO als auch die EU wurden für ihre Haltung zur Türkei heftig kritisiert.

In den sozialen Medien wurden unter den tags #SurveHasankeyfeSesOl und #SurHasankeyf2018 Bilder und Informationen ausgetauscht.

Auf der Website http://www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net/?p=676 können Bilder vom Aktionstag in den meisten Städten eingesehen werden.

Widerstand kann Sur und Hasankeyf retten! Solidarität mit Sur und Hasankeyf!

Email: hasankeyfgirisimi@gmail.com und mehdiplo@riseup.net

Open letter to DSI: Forced eviction of Hasankeyf merchants would violate the universal right to work

*** The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive *** Hasankeyf Matters *** Fivas – The Association for International Water Studies *** The Corner House *** Riverwatch ***


RE: Forced eviction of Hasankeyf merchants would violate the universal right to work
5 March 2018

Mr. Murat Acu, General Director, State Hydraulic Works (DSI)

Mr. Ali Naci Kösalı, Region 16 Director, State Hydraulic Works (DSI)

Mr. Şehmus Erkan Dursun, Hasankeyf Branch Director, State Hydraulic Works (DSI)

Prof. Dr. Veysel Eroğlu
Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs

Mr. Ahmet Deniz
Governor of Batman

Mr. Faruk Bülent Baygüven
District Governor of Hasankeyf

Dear Mr. Acu:
Dear Mr. Kösalı:
Dear Mr. Dursun:

We write to you to express our concern about the official notice (tebligat) of 22 February ordering merchants to vacate their shops in the historic touristic bazaar of Hasankeyf within two weeks. The notice warns that failure to comply will result in forced eviction. Such action would constitute a flagrant violation of the right to work, which is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 23). [Also published in Turkish]. Case law of the European Court of Human Rights protects aspects of the right to work.

We note that the new settlement area is still under construction and cannot support a level of commercial activity equivalent to that currently enjoyed in the historic touristic bazaar. We also note that Turkey has ratified the International Convention on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and is obligated to respect, protect and fulfill the right to work.

Of particular relevance to the present situation in Hasankeyf is the fact that under Article 6 of the ICESCR, Turkey is committed to safeguarding the right to work by, among other measures, implementing “policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.”

The right to work “also implies the right not to be unfairly deprived of employment,” (ICESCR General Comment No. 18, paragraph 6). Should the government force the merchants out of their current location now or at any time prior to the installation and operation of facilities/services necessary to support and promote commercial activity in the new settlement area, it will have deprived the merchants, their families and the entire community of Hasankeyf of economic well-being and diminished their sense of dignity. Consequently, these merchants will be “entitled to adequate reparation, which may take the form of restitution, compensation, satisfaction or a guarantee of non-repetition” (General Comment No. 18, ICESCR, paragraph 48).

We refer also to the UN “Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacements.” As this is a situation in which the merchants (and all residents) of Hasankeyf are compelled to relinquish their property through expropriation, the state is obligated to compensate those displaced for various damages they suffer as a result of their involuntary displacement. Such damages include, for example: “lost opportunities, including employment, education and social benefits; material damages and loss of earnings, including loss of earning potential; moral damage; and costs required for legal or expert assistance, medicine and medical services, and psychological and social services” (Paragraph 60, emphasis added).

These Guidelines also state, “Cash compensation should under no circumstances replace real compensation in the form of land and common property resources. Where land has been taken, the evicted should be compensated with land commensurate in quality, size and value, or better” (Paragraph 60, emphasis added).

Notwithstanding Turkey’s obligation to compensate any and all whose economic well-being is to be diminished (in many cases irreparably) by the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Plant Project, the merchants of Hasankeyf have proposed an interim solution, which would lessen to some extent the damage to their economic, social and cultural interests.

DSC_0036_20170930_Hasankeyf Market_Errizk Minaret

According to this proposal, the merchants would continue to conduct business in the historic market until the people of Hasankeyf have taken up residence in their new homes and the monuments to be salvaged (with the exception of the minaret of the Rizk Mosque) have been relocated to the new settlement area. This would not only enable the touristic market to continue drawing visitors to the town, but it would also allow for a degree of social and economic continuity during the difficult transition to the new settlement area.

In conclusion, we call upon you to exercise the utmost care in planning and executing the relocation of the residents of Hasankeyf to their new homes and workplaces. You, as the state authorities managing the Ilisu Dam project, are responsible for safeguarding the human rights of all those affected by the project. In cases where these rights are violated, you are responsible for ensuring that those who have suffered harm are compensated appropriately.


Hasankeyf Matters
The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive
Fivas – The Association for International Water Studies, Norway
The Corner House, United Kingdom
Riverwatch, Austria

Call: „Global Action Day for Hasankeyf and Sûr/Amed“, 28.4.2018

Stop the destruction of Hasankeyf and Sûr!

We call upon all people and organizations to stand against the destruction of Hasankeyf and Sûr (old town of Amed/Diyarbakir) in North Kurdistan (Southeast of Turkey) in a global action day on April 28, 2018.

Hasankeyf and Sûr are two historical sites inhabited by people continuously for thousands of years at the Tigris River in Upper Mesopotamia. For years the two sites are faced with systematic destruction by the AKP led Turkish government. However, the two places have also become to symbols of resistance against ecological and social destruction by large investment projects as well as by the war imposed on the people by the Turkish state.

Hasankeyf is inhabited for 12.000 years and presents with the surrounding Tigris Valley, which experienced limited destruction until now, a unique spectacle of history, culture and nature. In terms of heritage it exceeds in many aspects Ephesus, Troy and Cappadocia. It fulfills 9 of 10 criteria of UNESCO which does not show any effort against the Ilisu Dam which would also affect gravely the Mesopotamian Marshes in South Iraq a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016. If completed the Ilisu Project, one of the most controversial dams worldwide, would destroy the livelihoods of up to 80.000 people in North Kurdistan. For 20 years there are protests by affected people and others who could stop the project for several times. But each time the AKP government changed law or organized new finance in order to continue with the project because it considers the dam as a strategic tool for economic-political objectives. With heavily military presence the dam construction continues and a big catastrophe for millions of people is enforced. International companies are involved in the construction (particularly Andritz from Austria) or in the relocation of some of the 300 monuments (see petition against Dutch Bresser under hasankeyfgirisimi.net). Latter is used by the Turkish government for its propaganda of saving Hasankeyf.

Sûr is the old city of Amed (Diyarbakir) with an uninterrupted past of 7000 years. Sûr is very political and since 2007 it organizes itself in council democratic structures for more democracy and women liberation. When in 2015 the Turkish government started its ongoing one-sided war against the Kurdish population, Sûr and other cities have been attacked brutally and crimes against humanity have been committed. By far the biggest destruction of Sûr, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015, has been done after the official end of the armed clashes on March 10, 2016. Since then houses of 25.000 displaced people have been demolished. The same happened for 175.000 people in other cities like Cizre, Nisebîn (Nusaybin) and Şirnex (Şırnak) where at least 400 civilians have been killed straightly by state forces. These crimes have been documented by the UN High Commissariat for Human Rights in a report dated March 10, 2017.

The ongoing destruction of Hasankeyf and Sur can be compared essentially with the destruction of the Buddha Temple in Afghanistan by the „Taliban’s“ and of Palmyra in Syria by the „Islamic State“. If a state destroys on purpose unique and outstanding cultural and natural heritage – as it is the case with Turkey -, other states and international organizations like the UN should not keep silent. Particularly questioned is the EU which, among others, is focused in the continuation of the agreement on refugees with the Turkish government and thus subordinates human rights. But this approach can be challenged if people and civil organizations with an ethical awareness raise public pressure. We call upon you to show solidarity with the people in Turkey and Kurdistan who struggle against the destruction of Hasankeyf and Sûr. The defense of these two sites is still possible and may give hope against further cultural-social-ecological destruction and strengthen the perspective for peace. The AKP is not so strong as it pretends.

Come together in your towns and do an action on Saturday, April 28, 2018. Be creative and include further circles. Denounce the role of governments, companies, banks and international organizations like the UN. Close to the action day we will send more information and materials.


Mesopotamia Ecology Movement and Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive

E-mail: mehdiplo@riseup.net

Website: www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net

NGOs charge Bresser with violating OECD Guidelines in its relocation of Hasankeyf‘s Zeynel Bey Tomb

+++ The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive +++ Hasankeyf Matters +++ FIVAS – The Association for International Water Studies
The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive (HYG), Hasankeyf Matters (HKM) and the Association for International Water Studies, Norway (FIVAS), welcome the recently published Initial Assessment with great anticipation and hope for a constructive dialogue with Bresser. The Initial Assessment outlines the issues of the complaint for further discussion between Bresser and the plaintiffs, which may be facilitated by the Dutch National Contact Point (NCP). The National Contact Point is an independent body tasked with facilitating dialogue and mediation on implementation of the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
(For the Turkish version of the Guidelines, please click here. An unofficial Turkish translation of the Initial Assessment is available here.)

The complaint filed by HYG, HKM and FIVAS with the Dutch NCP on 28 July 2017 alleges that Bresser, a firm located in The Netherlands and specializing in the relocation, jacking and reinforcement of foundations, caused a violation of human rights through its role in relocating the tower and dome of the Zeynel Bey Tomb, a 15th-century memorial to a fallen warrior, which, until 12 May 2017, stood on the left bank of the Tigris River, in Hasankeyf, in the Kurdish region of Southeastern Turkey. The tomb is one of the most significant monuments of the 12,000-year-old settlement of Hasankeyf.

This structure relocation project was initiated by Turkey’s DSI (State Hydraulic Works), within the framework of the controversial Ilısu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant project, which, if implemented as planned, will flood the historic city of Hasankeyf as well as large parts of the Tigris Basin, including 199 villages fully or partially.

In its initial assessment, the Dutch NCP has concluded that the case – or “specific instance” – partly merits further consideration. This is the first time that cultural rights as human rights have been the subject of an NCP procedure.

Various international conventions and declarations confirm that cultural rights, including access to cultural heritage, are part of human rights. These include the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage (2003), Report A/HRC/31/59 by the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, and the UN Human Rights Council resolution 33/20.

In its statement, the Dutch NCP also states emphatically, “The decision to further examine part of this specific instance is not based on substantive research or fact-finding, nor does it entail any judgment as to whether or not Bresser has violated the Guidelines.”

In conclusion, the NCP writes, “. . . handling this specific instance may help clarify the OECD due-diligence recommendations for multinational enterprises regarding the human right to culture and/or the right to cultural heritage and its conservation.”

Summary of the complaint
Our disagreement with Bresser can be summarized in four points:

  1. The absence of substantive consultation with the diverse stakeholders did not meet the requirements for public participation established by CETS 121 and described in the Guidelines.
  2. We maintain that Bresser failed to conduct adequate due diligence to uncover potential adverse effects of the project to relocate the Zeynel Bey Tomb and that proper due diligence would have revealed problems requiring the firm’s attention and action.
  3. We argue that the removal of the Zeynel Bey Tomb resulted in a severe degradation of the value of the monument as cultural heritage and therefore constituted a violation of human rights.
  4. Finally, Bresser had leverage, which they should have used to bring the project into compliance with the Guidelines.

Summary of Bresser’s response
In response, Bresser has stated to the Dutch NCP that the complaint is unjustified. They assert that they conducted due diligence and stakeholder consultation prior to and during the project.

We continue to hold that Bresser is in violation of the Guidelines, for the reasons outlined in the Initial Assessment (see also 1-4 above), and that the information given by Bresser so far does not suffice to demonstrate that the company is in compliance with the Guidelines. We expect that following careful examination of these issues Bresser will cease work in Hasankeyf and take the necessary steps (enumerated in our demands) to comply with the Guidelines.

About the OECD Guidelines
The Guidelines and the specific instance process are backed by the OECD’s 35 member states, including The Netherlands and Turkey, as well as 13 countries that have elected to adhere to the Guidelines. As noted in the Preface to the Guidelines, “Governments adhering to the Guidelines are committed to continuous improvement of both domestic and international policies with a view to improving the welfare and living standards of all people.”

The Guidelines outline voluntary, legally non-binding standards of corporate ethics for international companies of all sizes. There is no legally binding element in the outcome of the NCP procedure.

What we hope to achieve in this process
As noted in the Initial Assessment, this specific instance focuses on the chapter on human rights, in which the Guidelines urge companies to, “Carry out human rights due diligence as appropriate to their size, the nature and context of operations and the severity of the risks of adverse human rights impacts” (item 5 of Chapter IV).

We believe that we have an obligation as representatives of civil society engaged in an OECD-specific-instance procedure to understand the reasoning underpinning Bresser’s interpretation of their mandate and use this opportunity to work jointly with Bresser and the Dutch NCP to produce a clearer articulation of the measures small enterprises should follow to meet the obligations for due diligence under the Guidelines.

As plaintiffs representing the people whose cultural heritage is impacted, we intend to embark upon this dialogue in good faith. We solemnly hope that Bresser will participate in good faith in further discussions, and that we will reach a common understanding of the importance of people’s participation in the development of their cultural heritage.

Ideally, future discussions would reach strong statements on the standards for due diligence and stakeholder consultation in projects concerning cultural heritage. The questions of due diligence and stakeholder consultation are of paramount importance in all sectors, and especially in the field of historic preservation.

Destruction Accelerates in Hasankeyf and the Tigris Basin

Environmental and heritage destruction have accelerated in Turkey’s historic city of Hasankeyf as crews work day and night, seven days a week to collapse vulnerable portions of the cliffs ringing the town and fill in some 200 caves. The work’s stated aim is to reinforce Hasankeyf’s ancient citadel ahead of completion of the Ilısu Dam, which would flood most of the town beneath approximately 60 meters of water. Preparations are also being made to construct a wall to cover the cliff face of the citadel mount. And a new road is being built across the Tigris River to haul equipment and rubble to and from the work site, significantly altering the course of the river and severely reducing its water quality.


The serious risks to both the historic heritage of Hasankeyf and the natural ecosystem of the Upper Tigris Basin posed by this work, which is being carried out without proper transparency or public involvement, are being documented by the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive (Hasankeyf’i Yaşatma Girişimi) and Hasankeyf Matters. The work to reinforce the cliffs is causing irreparable damage to the historical and cultural fabric of Hasankeyf, significantly reducing the value of the citadel and the surrounding natural rock formations as cultural heritage.

Similarly, the use of heavy equipment to collapse the cliffs beginning in August, together with the on-going construction of the new bridge one kilometre to the east of Hasankeyf, has polluted the Tigris River and is destroying extensive areas of habitat for numerous species of fish, plants and wildlife. In the course of this work, trees on the banks of the river are being cut unnecessarily and piles of debris are rising. Due to the change in the course of the Tigris, the fish habitat in the riverbed has been severely damaged for at least one and a half kilometres. Local observers report that thousands of fish have been killed.

This destruction is being done in violation of legal requirements for transparency, which require that the names of contractors and sub-contractors carrying out this work be disclosed. However, on the sign describing the work in progress, the space designated for the names of contractors and sub-contractors for the project has been left blank. Our research reveals that the contractor is the ICC Group (ICC Grup), while the sub-contractor collapsing the cliffs is Rüzgar Industrial Mountaineering (Rüzgar Endüstriyel Dağcılık). Both firms are based in Ankara.

News articles and press releases on the website of the State Hydraulic Works (DSİ), which is responsible for the Ilısu Dam Project, state that following the collapsing of cliffs around the citadel – an area that includes the hills of Ra’s Tibbah and Darphane – portions of the cliffs and surrounding valleys would be filled in with 4.75 cubic meters of debris/rubble and concrete. However, no plan for this has been shared with the public.

The failure to inform and consult the public regularly on substantive details of the citadel reinforcement project contravenes the laws of the Republic of Turkey, specifically Law Number 3534, which brought the country into legal compliance with the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Preservation of the Architectural Heritage of Europe (CETS 121). Article 14, Paragraph 1 of that law states that each party to the Convention will undertake “to establish in the various stages of the decision-making process, appropriate machinery for the supply of information, consultation and co-operation between the State, the regional and local authorities, cultural institutions and associations, and the public”.

International law mandates that intangible cultural heritage must be protected and that the public must be substantively and systematically consulted regarding projects for the conservation of immovable cultural heritage. Contrary to these legal requirements, the on-going work in and around Hasankeyf – its goals, technical plans, detailed methods and time schedule – is shrouded in extreme secrecy.

Meanwhile residents of Hasankeyf and neighbouring villages and towns are witnessing each day the dismemberment of the landscape where they and their ancestors have lived for centuries. Experiencing the dust and sounds of explosions created by this project, and seeing the destruction of historic landmarks and touchstones for collective memory, is intensifying the trauma and uncertainty they have lived with for 50 years, since the first proposal for the Ilısu Dam Project that would mean the death of their community and way of life.

As the filling and covering of cliffs is causing significant damage to the immovable historical structure of Hasankeyf and to the fabric of the town’s intangible cultural heritage, the project also violates the human right to culture upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 33/20.

We thus call again on the companies destroying the historical fabric of Hasankeyf and the Tigris Basin ecosystem to withdraw immediately from these damaging projects.

30 Oct 2017, Announcement
Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive
Hasankeyf Matters


Join Petition to Bresser and Er-Bu! Withdrew from relocation project of monuments in Hasankeyf!

Join a new petition by the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement which requests from the Dutch company Bresser and Turkish company Er-Bu Insaat to withdrew from the relocation project of monuments in Hasankeyf! Download the following file, print it and collect signatures!

The petition will continue until end of November!

Send the collected signatures to: ISKU, Spaldingstr. 130-136, D-20097 Hamburg, Germany!


Worldwide actions for Hasankeyf! Stop Ilisu Dam!

Statement on the 2nd Global Hasankeyf Action Day

Today in more than 15 cities actions have been organized against the Ilisu Dam at the Tigris River, one of the most worldwide controversial dams. If completed the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant Project with its expected grave social, ecological, cultural and downstream impacts would become a large scale disaster.



With the slogan “We are here to defend Hasankeyf and the Tigris River, thus to defend life!” the central action was done in the 12.000 years old Hasankeyf at the Tigris River. Members of 50 civil organizations from Istanbul, which created two weeks ago a new coalition called “Volunteers for Hasankeyf”, as well as dozen of civil organizations from the Kurdish region traveled to Hasankeyf in order to meet local activists from the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive (HYG) and people of Hasankeyf. They have not been intimidated by the state of emergency and the ongoing armed conflict in the close mountains. The police presence never was so intensive like today, it filmed everybody joining the press statement.


Already yesterday the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign organized the first two actions in the Iraqi cities Baghdad and Najaf which would suffer also from the Ilisu Dam – today a group protested in Silemani, Iraqi Kurdistan. The Tigris is crucial for the drinking water supply and agriculture of most people of Iraq. People from Iran showed solidarity via social media; in spring several Iranian NGO’s have started a petition to the UN General Secretary against the Ilisu Project.


Frankfurt, Germany

People of Hasankeyf informed the Volunteers for Hasankeyf that the relocation to New-Hasankeyf, just 2 km north far away, would end up for them in debt with no measures for income restoration. Actually up to 80.000 people, mainly Kurds, in 199 villages are faced with this risk. These people live for decades with the outstanding cultural heritage of Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris Valley which includes 400 archaeological sites almost not excavated. It is not by accident that experts claim that Hasankeyf fulfill 9 of 10 Unesco criteria.


Najaf, Iraq

The world looks without no reaction how one of the most important cultural sites of human history is planned to be flooded. Hasankeyf is our identity We fight against this project for almost 20 years, but this government does not listen to nobody in our country” says Ridvan Turan, a resident. Its time that globally relevant culture is defended by the global community! Hasankeyf has a strong symbolic value for people in the larger region.


Bilbao, Basque Country

That is why for the second time a global action day has been declared by the HYG. People in 16 cities followed this call. From Iraq to many places in Europe: Rome, Bilbao, Brighton/UK, Geneva, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Hannover, Munich, Kaspach, Vienna and even in Port Townsend in Washington/USA; Barcelona was planned, but had to be canceled due to the political situation.


Baghdad, Iraq

The Turkish government says that the dam is nearly completed. But, in the view of activists and affected people, it is not too late to reconsider. Tourism in combination conservation of the cultural and natural heritage would have economically more benefit for the affected areas and the whole state. People do not want this imposed “development” project which is beneficial only for the government and some companies.


Rome, Italy

It is not exaggerated to say that the planned submergence of Hasankeyf is in the same line like the destruction of Palmyra in Syria by “Islamic State” and the Buddha temples in Afghanistan by the alike terrorist Taliban. The mentality of the Turkish government is close.


Berlin, Almanya

When in mid-August 2017 explosives were used to blow up several rocks at the citadel of Hasankeyf, a new wave of protest has emerged all over Turkey. This action triggered the start of a new level in the destruction of the outstanding cultural and natural heritage. Cultural heritage removal has also been started. In May 2017 the first of 9 monuments, the Zeynel Bey Tomb, was relocated. This relocation is opposed by HYG and others because it is limited to up to 9 of more than 300 monuments and harms the monuments by relocating and disconnect them from their specific environment.


Kaspach, Germany

The protests of the action day have been directed to the Turkish government, to the Austrian company Andritz (building the hydroelectric power plant) and Dutch company Bresser (relocating monuments) and the Turkish banks Akbank and Garantibank (main shareholder: BBVA/Spain). Also the Iraqi government and international organizations – particularly UNESCO – have been criticized because they keep silent due to political interests with Turkey!


The action day was a further important step to continue with the pressure on all responsible institutions and companies. The campaign will continue without doubt as there is the big historical responsibility to defend culture and nature of such importance! Hasankeyf and Tigris is the life itself!

Follow hashtag at twitter (#DunyaHasankeyfGunu2017)!

Hasankeyf, 23.09.2017

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive (HYG)

Email: hasankeyfgirisimi@gmail.com

Web site: www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hasankeyfyasatmagirisimi/


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