Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt urged to raise issue of Hasankeyf with Turkish Government in light of increasing international concern

Campaigners and co-operative members in London took part in the 3rd Global Days of Action for the defence of the 12,000 year old town Hasankeyf and the Tigris River on 7 June, 2019. The Turkish Government had announced their intention to begin filling the dam reservoir on 10 June, leading to the call for the days of action to take place.

The Corner House and Peace in Kurdistan have since penned an open letter to Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, signed by Solidarity Economy Association and many others, urging that he underline to the Turkey Government the extent of international concern over the project and that the filling of the reservoir be put on hold pending a mutual agreement with Iraq and Syria guaranteeing sufficient downstream water flows to safeguard water supplies, agriculture and ecosystems (notably the Mesopotamian Marshes) in Syria and Iraq, as well as the outcome of a broad, participative, inclusive and transparent discussion with representatives of affected communities, both within Turkey and regionally, aimed at evolving policies for the sustainable and equitable use of the Tigris.

Labour and Co-operative Party MEP Julie Ward is also among those who have spoken out about the dam and the environmental and cultural devastation it will cause, by writing a letter to Turkish President Erdoğan expressing her concerns that 80,000 people risk losing their livelihoods if this project goes ahead, and saying, “The site of Hasankeyf is an international heritage site that should belong to humanity as a whole.”

However, the filling of the dam reservoir has not begun at the time the Turkish Government announced. A report on ANF English says:

According to the information provided by the State Hydraulic Works (DSI) authorities, technically it was not possible to close the dam covers on the date previously announced by the President. DSI officials said: “This year due to rainfall in the dam area it was not possible to followed the schedule and the water needs to fall even further in order to close the dam.”

Another DSI official stated that the filling and transportation operations in Hasankeyf have not been completed yet, and that the Iraqi Government has been assured that the water will not be cut off for a while. Noting that the dam is still not completed, he said that the test phase on the dam continues.

There is still time to cancel this project and save the historic town of Hasankeyf and 199 others, stop the displacement of tens of thousands of people, and the destruction of countless ecological systems, livelihoods and ways of life. A new petition started to help save Hasankeyf has already reached over 3,800 signatures.

Meanwhile, there is currently a cultural festival taking place in Hasankeyf until 16 June, with local artists playing nightly concerts. This festival was cancelled for three years by the Turkish Government due to the declared State of Emergency.

Below are some of the pictures of how people around the world participated in the global days of action. See more photos here.