Ancient settlements of the dam threatened

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In the vicinity of the Neolithic caves at Hasankeyf in Turkey, the first blasting began. The settlement from the early period of Mesopotamia will be flooded soon in favor of a controversial dam.

It is the Tigris river, on whose Shores one of the first settlements in the humanity history. The Tigris is the is swallowed, these settlements again soon. To blame the plans for a dam, with the large parts of the ancient Mesopotamia, in the Southeast of Turkey flooded.

The 1200 Megawatt Ilisu dam to supply the needed electricity and irrigation for the Region. But opponents of the decades project it is planned to lament the loss of historical sites, such as the settlement of Hasankeyf.

In Hasankeyf, the traces of human history Dating back 10,000 years before Christ. The settlement is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world, with traces of about 20 different ancient civilizations. The river bed of the Tigris is located, was built in limestone beaten caves of the Neolithic and later a Roman camp, as well as the landmark of the Artukiden and the Ottomans.

Until recently, this visually fascinating Overlay the history of the world has attracted many tourists, but for a year the historic sites are closed now. Last week, workers began to blast the cliffs of Hasankeyf, in order to make the area for the Flood by the dam is ready.

A last Protest

While the disapproval at home and abroad could delay the project a long time in addition to Attempts to the construction of the dam, at the end of it. However, as the demolition teams began their work, gave it to Mehmet Ali Aslan, a Deputy from the HDP party for the town of Batman, and start from its own power one last attempt to halt the destruction.

«When I saw these Videos, I couldn’t believe it,» said Aslan, Deutsche Welle. «I had to think of the bombing of Palmyra. by the IS, or the destruction of the Buddhist statues by the Taliban. If historical sites are destroyed, then that is an act of terror.»

Spontaneously, he says, chained themselves to Aslan to a rock in Hasankeyf valley and caused a momentary Pause in the explosive work. Turkish state media reported at the time that the explosive work is important for the removal of dangerous rock to be. Aslan holds, however: the flooding of The valley with the rubble of historic buildings was not only cruel, but also a cheaper way for the construction companies, the reservoir, which will soon fill the area.

Soon an underwater world: The valleys Hasankeyfs

Aslan has finished his Protest while now, but warned that he would return with reinforcements, should go the explosive continue to work.

As a response to the criticism, authorities have informed that in the area of the future dam of the new services for tourism are available, such as diving tours of the flooded monuments. The Turkish ministries of forestry and waters, as well as tourism and culture did not want to comment on that.

Short-term motivations, long-term damage

Most of the short-sightedness of the project, said Ridvan Ayhan, a member of the «Save Hasankeyf»-Initiative of the observed blasts, frustrating him. After the completion of the Ilisu dam is expected to be a maximum term of 50-70 years before the operation will re-set. In Ayhans eyes, this income cannot be justified in the energy production with the destruction of a more than 10,000-year-old settlement.

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Turkey: A cultural heritage sinks

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Turkey: A cultural heritage sinks

«Who has no past cannot determine their future,» said Ayhan DW. «You not only destroy our history, but take away our future, by destroying our heritage and our source of income.» He would like to apologize to the generations to come, says Ayhan — «we have admitted».

If the area is flooded, be buried, 199 residential areas under water, and 15,000 people move. Your new home is the fresh-built, and somewhat higher situated town by the name of New Hasankeyf. Ayhan believes that the relocation has, however, also another reason: the rural population from there away, where you can help the Kurdish guerrilla militia.

The reservoir would not only prevent the further link regional militias of the Kurdish workers ‘ party PKK, by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization banned movement, but also gives you access to several villages block.

The Silence of the UNESCO

During the entire debate around Hasankeyf the forefront of the historic preservation remained very silent, the world heritage organization UNESCO. This was mainly due to the fact that state governments have to submit their monuments even in the case of UNESCO, the organization lists them as such. And because the plans for the Ilisu dam are available since the 1950s in the Turkish authorities, had sought the Turkish government never to such a recognition for Hasankeyf.

«UNESCO is not required to judge the internal Affairs of its members,» said Roni Amelan, spokesman for UNESCO. «Because the system is not a world heritage site, we need to view your operation as a domestic issue.»

The dam also threatens the tourism in the Region

The tourism in Hayankeyf goes for a swim

Critics chalk UNESCO this inaction: The refusal to comment Hasankeyf, damage the credibility of the organization. Ali, a Kurdish archaeologist who wishes to remain anonymous, accused the local Residents to have the design of the dam approved.

«Five to ten years ago, there was a strong counter-movement,» he says of the DW. «Now people are too busy with the war in Syria and the Turkish policy, our monuments are of interest to you.»

Although a significant tomb could be removed for conservation purposes in time, says Ali, is not appreciated by the Turks to their historic monuments enough. «You don’t have the foresight to see the monuments in a more economically effective perspective,» says Ali. «We could have had the Machu Picchu or the pyramids. We could have attractions proper tourists, but the government takes care of no heritage, which is located to the East of Ankara.»