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Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice

Urgent Action 15 June 2000

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Ilisu Dam

As part of their war of genocide against the Kurds, Turkey are planning on building the Ilisu Dam which will flood the heartland of Turkish occupied Kurdistan. Kurds are being evicted at gunpoint, their villages raised to the ground. The 10,000 year old city of Hasankeyf will be destroyed. The Ilisu Dam will enable Turkey to control the flow of the Tigris, thus enabling Turkey to deny water to Iraq and Syria. A potential trigger point for the next Middle East War. In contravention of their own 'ethical foreign policy' the UK government will be providing the funding.

The Ilisu Dam is part of a $1.52 billion (excluding financing costs) hydroelectric scheme on the Tigris in Turkish occupied Kurdistan, 65 km upstream of the Turkish border with Syria and Iraq. The scheme is part of the continuing Turkish war against the Kurdish people.

The Ilisu Dam will flood the heart of Turkish occupied Kurdistan. 52 villages and 15 small towns will be destroyed by the Ilisu Dam, many others partially flooded, an estimated 15,000 to 25,000 people displaced. These to be added to the 3 million displaced Kurds, 4,000 villages destroyed in Turkey's long running war of genocide against the Kurds.

One of the towns to be destroyed is Hasankeyf, a Kurdish town of about 5,500 people. Hasankeyf dates from at least 10,000 years ago, it has survived to date without destruction. Just one of the important jewels within Hasankeyf is the tomb of the holy Imam Abdullah, grandson of Cafer-I Tayyar, the prophet Mohammed's uncle. Hasankeyf has survived nine major civilisations, stretching from the Assyrians through to the Ottomans. Each has added its own cultural layer. Archaeologists have only begun to scratch the surface of what lies buried at Hasankeyf. To the Turks, Hasankeyf represents Kurdish culture, therefore must be destroyed. Having survived 10,000 years, is Hasankeyf to be destroyed by the thugs of Ataturk?

Prime contractors will be Balfour Beatty. No stranger to scandal, Balfour Beatty was the lead contractor in the Malaysian Pergau Dam. An environmental, financial and political disaster. UK taxpayer's money was used to finance a non-viable dam, the money channelled back to purchase arms from UK defence contractors. Balfour Beatty are being prosecuted in Lesotho for alleged bribery and corruption relating to contracts for another dam project.

Balfour Beatty will be backed by the British taxpayer to the tune of £200 million. This is one of the ways in which taxpayer's money is transferred to large corporations. A small blow for justice was struck when protesters disrupted and shut down the Balfour Beatty May 2000 AGM.

The UK is a major supplier of arms to Turkey. The UK has turned a convenient blind eye to human rights abuses in Turkey (Turkey has one of the world's worst human rights records), the war of genocide against the Kurds in Turkish occupied Kurdistan and the continued occupation of northern Cyprus (even though UK is a guarantor of the independence of Cyprus).

Farnborough based BAE Systems is a major weapons supplier to the repressive regime of Turkey.

In backing the Ilisu Dam, the UK government is in breach of its own environmental and ethical policy guide lines. An ethical foreign policy that has been examined and found lacking. The UK is also in breach of OECD guide lines for such investments.

The Ilisu Dam violates World Bank guidelines, violates OECD resettlement guidelines, and contravenes the core principles of the 1997 UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of Transboundary Waterways.

Please write to Prime Minister Tony Blair, Trade Secretary Stephen Byers and Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, objecting to UK funding of this project.

An overview placing the Ilisu Dam in the context of Turkish repression against the Kurds:

Ilisu Dam campaign site. Campaign information, sample letters and postcards to download and print:

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BVEJ Urgent Action 15 June 2000
Published by Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice

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