Posted by: hevallo | June 28, 2010

Turkey Returns to Burning Kurdish Villages!

Photo by Hevallo

Hasankeyf

KHRP is alarmed to hear reports from its local partners that two villages in the Hasankeyf district, the site of the controversial Ilisu Dam project, were yesterday set alight by the Turkish army.Both the villages of Keçeli (Bizinka) and Palamutlu (Xerbekar) villages previously destroyed by the Turkish military in the 1990’s and which stand to be flooded by the Ilisu Dam reservoir if construction of the hydro-electric dam goes ahead — were burned.

Pictures taken from the north side of the Tigris River show the devastation caused to the villages which although no longer continuously inhabited, are sources of livelihood for local farmers and herders.

Today, the villages were visited by representatives of KHRP’s partner organisations, Insan Haklari Dernegi (the Human Rights Association of Turkey, ?HD), Göc-Der, and Mazlum-Der.

According to reports from local villagers, Turkish soldiers halted their attempts to extinguish the fire leaving it to rage on without intervention from the local fire station.

As long-highlighted by KHRP and its international partners in the Il?su dam campaign, the planned project does not take into consideration the requisite human rights considerations which include environmental rights of the people living in this region. Approximately 55,000 people, mostly Kurds are threatened with displacement.

The dam will also flood the ancient town of Hasankeyf and destroy unexplored archaeological sites, devastate the environment upstream and downstream and with it the Tigris River’s richly diverse ecosystems, and has the potential to exacerbate conflict in the region by severely reducing water flow to the downstream states of Iraq and Syria.

Despite the success of KHRP and its partners in successively halting the project, recent reports indicate that full-scale construction of the Ilisu Dam has continued in earnest in recent months.

‘This latest development rings alarm bells for a number of reasons’, said KHRP Chief Executive Kerim Yildiz, ‘not least of which is the fear that Turkey, in its bid to see the Il?su Dam project through, is ready to flout basic human rights and resort to its past extreme and deplorable tactics of village burning, so heavily employed at the height of the armed conflict in the 1990s.’

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