The prospects for peace in the Middle East would be enhanced if the region's fresh water were properly conserved. -- Robin Cook, UK Foreign Secretary
We strengthen our environmental policy by having a foreign policy that stands up for democracy, human rights, accountability and openness. If people have no voice, their leaders have no interest in the environment. -- Robin Cook, UK Foreign Secretary
This project is a disgrace. It will further add to the risk of conflict in one of the most unstable parts of the world. The whole thing makes nonsense of the Foreign Office's ethical and environmental policies. -- Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth
We have to stop this project before the British government is party to fermenting war in the Middle East, destroying part of the homelands of the Kurdish people and major environmental destruction. -- Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth
Ilisu must be considered a prominent test case for the policy coherence between export credit agencies and bilateral as well as multilateral development institutions. Will the governments of OECD countries fund a project which violates the most basic guidelines of development finance which they have collectively established and approved? -- Peter Bosshard, Berne Declaration
As the question of human rights in South-East Turkey was raised, 40 supporters stood up holding pictures of torture victims. One shareholder looked at a picture of Turkish soldiers holding severed human heads like trophies and said, 'These are probably faked you know, it's easy enough to mock up pictures like this.' -- Mark Thomas
We are astonished that the Foreign Office did not raise any questions about the proposed Ilisu Dam and its effect on the human rights of those living in the region. -- House of Commons International Development Select Committee
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 enable Turkey to control the waters of the Tigris, to deny Syria and Iraq water at the turn of a tap. Filling the reservoir will take at least half the annual flow of the Tigris. Turkey has previously threatened to deny water to Syria and Iraq, and shut the flow of water to a mere trickle.
Water is seen as the resource which will spark the wars of the 21st century. Turkey has refused to support the 1997 UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of Transboundary Waterways. Turkey, along with the other human rights pariahs of China and Burundi, is the only country to refuse to sign the Convention. In the construction and operation of the Ilisu Dam Turkey will be in breach of international agreements with both Iraq and Syria.
Denial of water to Syria and Iraq is likely to be the spark that starts the next Middle East war. As Turkey is a Nato member the rest of Europe could be drawn into a conflict which is not of its making, in which it has no interest.
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?
The Ilisu Dam is part of the South East Anatolia Project (GAP), with GW generating capacity. The Ilisu Dam alone will generate 1200 MW. Ostensibly GAP is to bring development to the region, in reality it is a crude attempt to control the Kurds. To date GAP has displaced, without compensation, 100,000 people. There has been no consultation with the people who are to be displaced, no proper social studies, anyone who dares to protest or object is subject to arbitrary arrest and torture. Many villagers have been evicted at gunpoint, their houses razed to the ground.
When environmentalist Nicholas Hildyard and three human rights lawyers visited the area they were followed everywhere they went. People they spoke to were taken away for questioning. When the Times reporter Ann Treneman visited the Ilisu region recently she found in just one day she was followed by 41 different men and a tank. When Mathew Chapman visited the area to produce a programme for BBC Radio 5 Live he was shadowed everywhere by the secret police, they would even barge into interviews and demand to know what was being said. These experiences are not unique. Every fact-finding mission to Turkish occupied Kurdistan encounters the same problem of harassment and repression by the forces of the Turkish state.
Were Turkey to follow the example of its more developed Mediterranean and Middle East neighbours, Greece, Cyprus and Israel, they would invest in solar power. Turkey could also invest in wind turbines, as seen at the wind farms not far from the airport on the south east coast of the island of Tenerife. Were Turkey to address large inefficiencies in its supply distribution system, this one measure alone would recover as much power as GAP is expected to deliver. According to the authors of the as-yet unpublished Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Ilisu Dam, undertaken by Hydro Concepts Engineering of Switzerland, no supply-side or demand-side alternatives to the dam were considered as part of the original feasibility studies undertaken for the project by the Turkish authorities. Were Turkey to follow a soft energy path it would be lessening its dependence on electricity and GAP would not be required.
The World Bank, which itself has a very poor environmental track record, has refused to support the Ilisu Dam on environmental grounds.
Turkey dumps untreated sewage straight into the Tigris. The Ilisu Dam will only lead to a worsening of the pollution. The upstream reservoir will introduce water-borne disease such as malaria to the region.
The Ilisu Dam will prevent seasonal flooding downstream of the dam wrecking the ecosystem and destroying traditional agriculture that has depended on the floods for millennia.
According to Berne Declaration 'Ilisu appears to violate five binding World Bank policies ... on 18 counts.'
Balfour Beatty is the lead contractor in the international consortium proposing to construct the Ilisu Dam. Financial backing is coming from Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and US to the sum of around $850 million.
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.
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. In the US, Balfour Beatty has been raided by the FBI for fraud.
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).
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.
Following pressure from environmentalists, the UK Department of Industry has conducted an environmental impact assessment. The conclusions have proved too damning and the DTI has commissioned a second study. FoE is contemplating a legal challenge to force the DTI to release the original report.
UK support for the Ilisu Dam has been condemned by two Parliamentary Select Committees - Trade and Industry (March 2000), International Development (July 2000).
Turkey is rated as high risk for investment. On an international scale of 0-100, Turkey rates 38.6, lower than India, Mexico, Brazil or the Philippines.
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.
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