From the HDP to the government regarding ‘New Hasankeyf’

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The HDP, questioning the government about ‘New Hasankeyf,’ said, “If one evaluates Hasankeyf as a historical treasure it is still impossible to understand the choice to eliminate with a destructive dam project nature and heritage.

12 January 2016, ANF

The AKP Government, proposed a new legislative bill signed by Prime Minister Ahmet Davetoğlu. The purpose of this legislation is the removal of cultural/historical structures located in the district of Hasankeyf, Batman, to ‘New Hasankeyf.’

HDP Batman Parliamentarian Ayşe Acar Başaran, filed a written motion seeking the response of Culture and Tourism Minister, Mahir Ünal, regarding Hasankeyf. In the motion, Başaran used the following wording, “The Ilısu Dam and Hydroelectric Plant, which upon completion is expected to be the 4th largest dam, has since the first day it was mooted provoked intense reactions due to the severe social, archeological, political and economic ruin and problems it will create. It is still impossible to understand and explain the choice to eliminate with a destructive dam project nature and heritage instead of preserving Hasankeyf as a heritage site, as Hasankeyf meets 9 of 10 UNESCO criteria for cultural historical heritage,” she said.

‘In terms of culture the effects to be produced have not been taken into account’

Başaran criticized the failure to take into account the effects to be produced in terms of cultural heritage in the evaluation of [the] Ilısu [Dam], which in any case will not have any economic effect, as it will only produce approximately one percent of energy [sic].1

‘Which cultural/historical structures will be moved?’

HDP Parliamentarian Başaran sought the response of Minister Ünal to these questions:

– Has your Ministry applied for Hasankeyf to be added to the UNESCO conservation list?

– Why was the application prepared by Doğa Derneği (Nature Association) for the Culture and Tourism Ministry in order to include Hasankeyf, which meets 9 of 10 UNESCO criteria, on the UNESCO preservation list not delivered to UNESCO?

– Why was it not deemed appropriate for an application to be made by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to UNESCO for Hasankeyf and the Tigris Valley?

– Which cultural/historical structures of Hasankeyf-Batman will be moved to New Hasankeyf? When will the transfer take place and how will it be conducted? Will the pylons of bridge be moved?

– Entry to the citadel was prohibited due to the cracks beneath the Small Palace and the Treasury. Well, then, have efforts been undertaken to reinforce these places, which are subject to the closure order? If not, then why?

– One of the people preparing the expert reports serves in the Ankara Preservation Directorate as a representative of the ministry. The same person also works in the ministry as a representative. Why were the experts not selected from among more neutral people?

– Why have the expert reports been delayed? Why has the expert report, which has been awaited for 11 years, still not been prepared?

– The cliff of the castle will not be submerged beneath water. However, according to several archaeologists and architects, if it collapses, the rock mass on which it sits and thousands of caves behind it will be damaged. Is your ministry working on this?

– There is a plan to rescue the Seljuk-era Zeynel Bey Tomb by moving it to another location. Is it possible to consider a monument rescued if the entire geographical and cultural context of which it forms a part is destroyed?

– Why has a cultural inventory of the Hasankeyf archaeological sites, which are under the Monuments and Museums General Directorate of the Culture and Tourism Ministry, still not been conducted?

– Have the archaeological remains of the oldest civilizations, which will shed light on the history of humanity, been presented in their entirety?

– To what extent have findings presented so far been disclosed to the public? Are some findings, which, similar to those at at Göbeklitepe, might open the way to rewriting history, and that are being concealed?”

1Translator’s note: The Ilsu Hydroelectric Plant is expected to produce 1 percent of Turkey’s electricity.