Just two days after the 3rd Global Day of Action for Hasankeyf, on June 10, 2019, news spread that the filling of the Ilisu dam reservoir had been postponed. The state agency responsible for this, DSI (State Hydraulic Works), told several media agencies that due to the high flow of the river in the area of the Ilisu dam and the failure to complete construction work in Hasankeyf and on the roads of the affected region, the filling would be done later, probably in July.
In recent weeks, we have reported in our statements and reports that some of the construction work in connection with the project has not yet been completed, and starting to fill the reservoir now would be merely symbolic or for propaganda purposes, at least until winter. The Ilisu Project has suffered many delays since the start of construction in 2010 due to the poor design of the entire project, as well as the size and technical challenges of the megaproject, which have not been calculated correctly. In addition, we said that starting the filling in early summer does not make sense, because the water flow is quite low until winter.
Even more contradictory is the statement that the Governor of Batman (the province where the project is located) issued on June 12, 2019, in which he states that there have been no setbacks in the implementation of the project and that everything is going according to plan. But even so, no specific date has been offered.
The recent announcement to begin filling is not the first; this has been happening for three years. Like the previous announcements, the goal is to provoke a feeling of hopelessness in society. Despite the incomplete work in the affected region, a plan to begin filling on June 10 was likely imagined with the intention of breaking any resistance to the project.
But the 3rd Global Day of Action for Hasankeyf has opened a new wave of protests in society: people have remembered with greater force their duty to act to protect this place of outstanding cultural and natural heritage. In many places all over Turkey, including the Kurdistan region, artists, political activists and organizations of different kinds, as well as interested people, have been taking measures and organizing different kinds of protests and activities during these days.
We firmly believe that the growing protests and media attention affected the decision to postpone the filling of the Ilisu dam reservoir. The government’s plan is probably to now wait until the new wave of protests disappears after a few weeks or months.
We can’t let this happen! People all over the world must stand in solidarity with the crucial struggle for the Tigris River and its people, biodiversity and culture! It is a struggle for life, nature, historical and cultural heritage, and solidarity, and a success could strengthen social and ecological movements throughout the state. And across the planet.
Summary Report of the 3rd Global Day of Action
After our call to join the 3rd Global Days of Action for Hasankeyf on the 7th and 8th of June 2019, protest actions were carried out in 35 cities against the destructive and controversial Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant Project. Under the slogan “Hasankeyf is our culture, Tigris our nature”, the people of Hasankeyf, Iraq, Rojava and nine European countries demanded that the Turkish government not start filling the Ilisu dam reservoir, scheduled to begin on the 10th of June 2019.
At noon on June 7, in several European cities such as Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Freiburg and Ljubljana, activists joined the viral actions of Fridays For Future, which led to discussions about how large dams like Ilisu contribute to climate crisis. Subsequently, actions were carried out in two dozen cities. One of them was in Paris in front of the UNESCO headquarters. UNESCO has remained silent about Hasankeyf and the Ilisu Dam, despite many requests and petitions in recent years to be recognized as a World Heritage Site. Another message of solidarity came from the autonomous area of ZAD in western France. In Vienna, people protested in the central building of Andritz, the multinational that is building the hydroelectric plant of the Ilisu dam. In London, an action was organized by solidarity groups in front of the Turkish Embassy. In the Spanish state, the objective was BBVA, Ilisu’s financier: a theatre performance and rallies were organised outside its Barcelona headquarters, and posters exposing their role in the dam were stuck up around Donostia and Bilbo (Basque Country).
In Iraq, in the afternoon of June 7, actions were carried out against the Ilisu Dam and for Hasankeyf and the Tigris River in ten cities, from Sulaymaniyah to Basra. This high level of participation shows a great awareness of the crisis of the destruction of nature and the need to fight against destructive projects at a grassroots level.
On the evening of June 7, we shared solidarity videos of 15 Turkish and Kurdish artists, including several very famous ones, on social networks with the hashtag #HasankeyfİçinGeçDeğil. For a short time, it was trending on Twitter. This is an expression of the rejection of the destruction of Hasankeyf and the Tigris River by the whole of Turkish society. An interesting contribution also came from the French artist Elen Ture.
On the afternoon of June 8, dozens of activists, affected persons, mayors and politicians gathered in Hasankeyf to make statements. In all their speeches, the will to continue the struggle against the Ilisu Project was emphasized, in spite of the fact that the dam is almost finished. Among the politicians to give speeches were HDP MP A.A. Bacaran and British MEP Julie Ward, who also sent a letter to Turkish President Erdogan on June 2, expressing their concerns about the Ilisu project. Zozan Şimşek read a statement calling on people and organisations to campaign, adding that are many cases of mega-projects being built but not actually being opened and operated due to strong resistance.
Find photos and videos of actions here: http://www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net/?p=880
Petition initiated for Hasankeyf and Tigris
On June 11, a petition was created against the Ilisu dam, addressed to the Turkish government and UNESCO. The text is based on our call of May 15, 2019, which has been signed by 121 organizations so far. Sign and spread!