Project – On recordThis profile is no longer actively maintained, with the information now possibly out of date
Project – On recordThis profile is no longer actively maintained, with the information now possibly out of date
What must happen
An environmental default clause in the contracts stipulated the cancellation of the guarantees and loan contracts if the 153 conditions are not met. When these were indeed not met by the Turkish government, the export credit agencies rightly announced their withdrawal by July 7th.
DekaBank, Societe General, Bank Austria subsequently did the right thing and also withdrew their support.
AkBank, Garantibank, the consortium and the Turkish government need to follow this step and withdraw from/stop the project, respectively. BBVA and Citi as main shareholders must provide for Ak- and Garantibank to uphold international standards and withdraw from Ilisu.
|Sectors||Hydroelectric Power Generation|
The 1,200 MW Ilisu dam project is planned on the Tigris River in Southeast Turkey, some 50 km away from the border with Syria and Iraq. A 1,800 m-long wall will form a 313 km2 reservoir. It is part of the Greater Southeast Anatolian Project (GAP), which consists of 22 dams and 19 hydropower plants in the nine southeastern provinces of Turkey. The original plans date back to the 1950s and the actual design was approved in 1982. Ilisu is currently Turkey's largest dam project.
The Ilisu dam project will displace up to 78,000 mostly Kurdish people, flood the 12,000-year-old city of Hasankeyf, constitute a unilateral interference with the quantity and quality of water reaching downstream states Syria and Iraq, and cause extensive environmental damage.
In July 2009, the governments of Germany, Austria and Switzerland cancelled the export credit guarantees which they had granted for the project, as the Turkish authorities repeatedly violated and failed to fulfil the 153 conditions attached to the guarantees. Thus the Ilisu dam is the first project ever for which public export credit support was withdrawn AFTER its approval on environmental and social grounds. This constitutes the second failure of the project after a first consortium withdrew in 2001/2002.
Social and human rights impacts
Hundreds of yet unexplored archaeological sites, as well as the ancient town of Hasankeyf, will be destroyed. Hasankeyf is a first-degree national monument protected by Turkish laws which prohibit any infrastructure activities. An Archaeological Salvage Plan promises to excavate and document many sites and transfer some of Hasankeyf’s monuments to an Archaeological Park. This plan, however, ignores the fact that the uniqueness of Hasankeyf stems from its setting on the steep river bank, and is highly unrealistic in regards to timing and technical feasibility. Hasankeyf is included in the World Monuments Fund 's list of the 100 most endangered sites on Earth.
The southeast of Turkey is populated mainly by ethnic Kurds. From 1984 to 1999 a civil war between the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and Turkish security forces killed 35,000 people and led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands more. At present, armed clashes continue to occur and human rights violations and restrictions to the freedom of expression are common. Tens of thousands of mainly Kurdish people may be affected by the Ilisu dam project. The resettlement plan provided by the project sponsor is utterly flawed. No actual consultations with the affected population have taken place. The availability of resettlement land is still unclear, income restoration measures are vague and have not been discussed with the people. Mayors of the surrounding cities have already stated that they cannot cope with the influx of thousands of resettlers. The impoverishment of a great part of resettlers and increasing social tensions must be expected. The expropriation of the first villages close to the dam construction site started in mid-2007. Affected people were not offered any suitable resettlement land and received only minimal cash compensation. The relocation of the village of Ilisu, which took place at the end of 2010, confirms the concerns: People are not allowed to grow vegetables, they cannot keep their livestock and are in great despair how to feed their families (for more information please read the following article).
Widespread resistance in the region
According to surveys, 80 % of the affected population opposes the project. The “Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive” consists of professional chambers (architects, engineers, lawyers), elected representatives of affected communities from various political parties, human rights and environmental organisations, all fighting against the project. On May 20th, 2007, 2,000 participants joined a demonstration in Hasankeyf demanding the cancellation of the project. On March 4th, 100 affected people travelled to Ankara to protest in front of the embassies of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. They handed over letters from 1,500 affected people to the heads of state of those three countries in which they demand the withdrawal of support for the Ilisu project and announce that they will seek Asylum in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, if the Ilisu dam is actually built. In October 2010, hundreds of participants took part in a protest camp in the antique town of Hasankeyf. The Turkish Nature Association Doga Dernegi is raising awareness all over the country of the environmental and cultural impacts of the Ilisu dam. Also celebrities like the famous pop singer Tarkan, nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk and actors like Kurtlar Vadisi (Valley of Wolves), Ak Yakar (Love Hurts), Gürkan Uygun, Görkem Yeltan, Mehmet Ali Alabora, Övül Avk?ran and Mustafa Alabora avowed themselves to the protection of the antique town of Hasankeyf. Thousands of clients have cancelled their accounts with Garantibank, including the collective withdrawal of the Turkish labor union Petrol-Is' accounts. Protests even spread to European clients.
The World Commission on Dams found that women are disproportionately affected by dam projects. As women are often responsible for ensuring the sustainable livelihoods of their families, impacts on these livelihoods through destruction of fisheries, flooding of agricultural land and forests, and displacement often result in women bearing a disproportionate share of the costs. It is women who are often left with the burden of caring for their families, finding alternative land and water sources and alternative livelihoods when these are taken away through the development of destructive dam projects.
Environmental and climate impacts
Over 400 km² of the Tigris valley and its confluents will be affected, with detrimental effects for endangered species, such as the Euphrates Turtle. A sharp reduction in water quality is to be expected. The existing Environmental Impact Analysis and Environmental Management Plans are not comprehensive and are missing essential compoments, such as wildlife management, resettlement and landscaping measures.
Impacts will be felt far downstream of the dam. Especially when seen in conjunction with the smaller Cizre dam, planned between Ilisu and the border to Syria and Iraq, the waterflows to the downstream riparian states may fall to historic levels. The Iraqi government has voiced great concern over the project. Nonetheless, in contrast to requirements under international law, Syria and Iraq have neither been fully informed nor consulted before project approval.
Incompatibility with international standards, Turkish and international law
Although the consortium, as well as the export credit agencies, have announced to only proceed with the project if international standards are met, the Environmental Impact Assessment and the Resettlement Action Plan fall far short of international (World Bank) standards. Therefore the Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) supporting the project imposed 153 conditions on the project sponsors. Despite filling some of the worst gaps between Turkish laws and international standards, these conditions still fail to bring the project in line with international standards. In Turkey, two court cases questioning the legality of the project are pending on grounds that the protected status of Hasankeyf has never been lifted. Another case has been filed with the European Court of Human Rights. More cases are to be expected if the project goes ahead. The lack of consultation with the neighboring countries is a breach of international water law. An expert opinion by international law experts has warned that financial institutions supporting the project may be held accountable.
An analysis of the 153 conditions attached to the export credit guarantees undertaken by Berne Declaration, ECA-Watch Austria, CounterCurrent, The Corner House and FERN finds that:
- the project approval process is in breach of World Bank standards
- the Terms of Reference are vague, unsubstantiated, contradictory and of a poor scientific quality
- project implementation does not comply with the ECAs' own conditions nor with World Bank standards.
A submission by CounterCurrent and the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive to the United Nations' Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights concludes that the project implementation and the Turkish laws on expropriation and resettlement lead to severe infringements on the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. For more on this topic please read the Submission to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the Ilisu dam.
A bank consortium of Société Générale, Bank Austria Creditanstalt (affiliate of UniCredit Group), DekaBank (central funds managing institute of the German Association of Savings Banks), AkBank and GarantiBank (both Turkish) signed contracts with the Turkish authorities on August 15th, 2007. Three European Export Credit Agencies approved guarantees worth half a billion Euro at the end of March 2008. The ECAs tied 153 conditions to their approval.
When it became clear in June 2009 that Turkey would not be able to fulfill these conditions all ECAs withdrew their support. Two days later, on July 9 SocGen, Bank Austria and Deka Bank also withdrew from the project.
In order to fill the resulting funding gap, Akbank, Garantibank and Halkbank provided additional finance in 2010.
Through their shares in Ak- and Garantibank, other banks are indirectly funding the Ilisu dam project. Most notably BBVA recently acquired 24.9 % of Garantibank, and Citi owns 20 % of Akbank.
Controversial Ilisu Dam on Hasankeyf Halted by Turkish Court
Controversial Ilisu Dam on Hasankeyf Halted by Turkish Court
Marsh Arabs protest Ilisu Project in Hasankeyf
Heritage before Hydropower: Petition to UNESCO on Ilisu Dam launched
Turkey: Drowning the Past in the Waters of Progress
Turkey's Great Leap Forward risks cultural and environmental bankruptcy
UN committee deeply concerned about Ilisu dam
Court case could slow Turkish dam project
New Report on human rights violations by dams in Turkey
“So few policemen for so many thieves! BBVA; the Assassin!”
Profits through destruction - The other annual balance of Andritz
Turkish villagers become strangers in their own strange town
Turkish dam policy discussed in EU
Ilisu Dam Turkey: Handing over of keys for new houses: a cynical act against international standards
Protest camp against the Ilisu Dam in Hasankeyf, Turkey
Call for Hasankeyf Solidarity Camp between 11-17 October 2010
One year after Europe’s withdrawal from the Ilisu project: new hope for Hasankeyf despite restart of construction
The Forgotten Downstream Victims of Large Dams
Andritz – Europe's Disgrace
New Scandals in Ilisu Project
Construction of Ilisu dam restarted – Austrian Andritz the only European company to remain in the project
Construction of Ilisu dam restarted – Austrian Andritz the only Europen company to remain in the project
Akbank announces stronger environmental protection in reaction to Ilisu dam controversy
Turkey to build disputed dam despite Euro snub
Andritz AG - Kein Profit auf Kosten der Umwelt
Europe-wide protests against Turkish banks
Europaweite Proteste gegen Ilisu-Dammprojekt
London MEP joins protest against controversial Ilisu Dam
Turkije zal omstreden Ilisu-stuwdam toch bouwen
Announcement for restart of Ilisu project without final decision
EU Parliament demands stop of work in Ilisu dam project – investigation by EU Commission?
Environmentalists dealt strong card to play against hydro plants
Greenwashing Hydropower: The Problems with Big Dams
Will China Turn Its Back on International Standards in the Ilisu Dam?
Ilisu construction restarted without permission
Historic concert at Hasankeyf in Southeast Turkey
European banks withdraw from Ilisu dam project in Turkey
Victoire historique : la Société Générale se retire d’Ilisu !
Ilisu Dam Project: European Governments Officially Announce Withdrawal
Austria's ECA officially declares pull-out of Ilisu dam project
Germany, Austria and Switzerland backing out of Ilisu Dam Project in Turkey
Ilisu dam-affected people expropriated amidst ultimatum
Turkey deports international rivers' staff after peaceful water forum protest against Ilisu Dam
European banks pull out of Ilisu dam project
Ilisu Dam Project facing severe backlash
Ilisu Dam: Pullout officially initiated
Protest rallies against Turkish dam all over Europe
Nationwide Protests against Investment in Turkey’s Ilisu Dam
Arbitrary expropriation at Ilisu dam site
NGOs condemn signing of the contracts for Ilisu Dam by Société Générale, Bank Austria and DekaBank
Fact finding report about the rock fall in Hasankeyf on 13th July 2010 and possible risks
Vertreibung, Umwelt- und Kulturzerstörung am Tigris durch Hermesbürgschaften, DekaBank und Züblin ?
Press release of Societe Generale, Dekabank and Bank austria announcing withdrawal Ilisu project
Rapports d'experts sur Ilisu (Turquie) : un barrage très loin des normes internationales minimales
Summary of the Evaluation of the Terms of Reference and their implementation for the Ilisu Dam Project in Turkey regarding resettlement, environmental issues, cultural heritage and riparian countries
Evaluation of the ToR on resettlement and their implementation for the Ilisu Dam Project in Turkey
Ilisu Dam Protest Camp
Turkish army burns down villages near Hasankeyf
Construction Ilisu Dam
Demonstration against Ilisu Dam
Ilisu dam Action day - Europe
DAMOCRACY The Movie (English)
Wrong Climate for Damming Rivers
Standing Rivers- trailer
Sinking History - Turkey
2020-01-17 00:00:00 | Ilisu dam reservoir has reached Hasankeyf town
The filling of the controversial Ilisu Dam continues despite the ongoing strong critic and protests by the affected communities along the Tigris River and civil society organizations from all over Turkey. Almost two weeks ago the raising dam reservoir has reached the 12,000 years old town Hasankeyf which is one of the most magnificent cultural and natural heritage sites at our planet. The planned “apocalypse” by the Turkish government is slowly becoming reality (Hasankeyf Coordination).
2013-10-11 00:00:00 | Road blockade by inhabitants of Hasankeyf against ILISU Dam
The Inhabitants of the antique city Hasankeyf have blocked
the main road through their city in order to protest the Ilisu Dam Project and
especially the resettlement process. The road connects the provincial capital
Batman with the cities Midyat, Cizre and the Iraqi border and is intensively
More than 500 people gathered on the bridge over the Tigris River in the early morning where they persisted and sat untill the afternoon although hundreds of policemen gathered and threatened the people. The same day in Hasankeyf all students boycotted the schools and shop-owners closed their shops.
The people demanded the stop of the resettlement process done by the state body State Water Works (DSI). The people criticized the resettlement process which started three years ago. The DSI foresees small amounts for the current buildings and the triple price for the new houses in "New-Hasankeyf" which is in the constructing phase for two years and located 2 km in the North. Furthermore in the new settlement area are almost no opportunities planned for the new inhabitants which means a long-term impoverishment. Thats why they shouted "Our caves are enough, we do not need villas", "DSI, stop these works", "Resettlement is deception", "You have stolen our childhood, hands off from our future".
Also the governor of Hasankeyf Temel Ayca, appointed by the central government and the mayor of Hasankeyf Abdulvahap Kusen could not change the view of the people. In the afternoon the protestors have end the blockade without any arrestation.
Considering the comparatively silence of the last two years by the most inhabitants of Hasankeyf this action increases the protest against the destructive Ilisu Project which is under construction for three years. It is planned by the government to complete the construction within two years.
2013-04-17 00:00:00 | Ilisu Dam on Hasankeyf Halted by Turkish Court
The Turkish State Council ruled on January 7 in favour of the legal case filed by the Chamber of Architects and Engineers (TMMOB) against the construction of the Ilisu dam project, ordering an immediate halt to the controversial dam construction in southeast Turkey.
The Council of State concluded that the Ilisu dam construction on the Tigris River, proceeding without the legally required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), goes against Turkish Environment law and EIA regulations.
2012-09-11 00:00:00 | Dam construction begins
Construction of the Ilisu dam has begun as of last week. The Tigris River is currently being diverted into three tunnels at the construction site and will remain this way for several years. The project has been praised by the Turkish Minister of the Environment, Veysel Eroglu, as being of economic and strategic importance.
2011-05-26 00:00:00 |
On May 20, 2011 in the final document by the UN Social Covenant, the commitee has urged the Turkish government to "completely review its legislation on evictions, resettlement and compensation, and to take a human rights based approach into account in its infrastructure development projects, especially dams." Read more.
On October 30, 2010, Prime Minister Erdogan symbolically handed over keys for New-Ilisu, the first resettlement site. People had to move at the end of 2010, as living in their old village got intolerable due to the noise and dust from the construction works. Press reports on life in the new village reveal a sincere lack of reliable income at the new site.
On June 15, 2010, Andritz announced that they signed new contracts with the Turkish government of EUR 340 million. The contracts include Alstom's former part of the deal and possibly also the parts of the other European companies that withdrew.
In May 2010, Alstom (FR/CH) and Züblin (D/AUT), who were supposed to be involved in the construction of the Ilisu dam, finally pulled out of the project. This appeared in a report from the Czech General Consulate in Turkey. The Austrian company Andritz AG and the Swiss companies Colenco, Maggia and Stucky will be the only European companies remaining within the controversial Ilisu dam project on the Tigris river in south-eastern Turkey. According to the report, Andritz will take over the contracts of Alstom, Züblin's work will be carried out through Turkish companies.
Although, by April 2010, funding for the dam had not been guaranteed yet, in Ilisu the construction of the tunnel, the bridge over the Tigris and the building of accommodation quarters had started. Once construction of the tunnel is finished the construction of the dam body itself can start.
On February 11, 2010 the Turkish prime minister Erdogan, announced that the construction of the Ilisu dam will be restarted. It appears quite certain that missing funding (300-350 million Euro) will come from the Turkish banks Akbank and Garanti Bank.
The export credit guarantees granted by the German, Austrian and Swiss governments in March 2007 were cancelled on July 7, 2009. The European banks involved announced that therefore their contracts also ended. This renders the delivery contracts with the consortium void as well. It is unclear, however, if the consortium will withdraw from the project or will be available to negotiate new contracts. The Turkish government has announced that it intends to build the dam despite the ECAs' withdrawal, but a massive campaign in Turkey and internationally demands the stop of the project and the declaration of Hasankeyf and the Tigris valley as UNESCO world heritage site. The initiative is supported by celebrities like the Turkish pop star Tarkan, nobel-prize wirter Orhan Pamuk, Austrian actrice Senta Berger, movie producer Wim Wenders and many others.