Ipek Tasli and Diren Özkan
Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive
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Today a press conference was organized by the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive in Batman, Turkey, with the participation of the mayor Diyarbakir Osman Baydemir and 20 more regional mayors. The two involved banks in the Ilisu project - Akbank and Garantibank - were warned to cancel their planned credit.
As we experienced the two Turkish banks Akbank and Garantibank plan to sign in these days a contract with the Turkish Government and the Ilisu Consortium for the finance of the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectrik Power Plant Project.
If such a decision is taken, the destruction of a big part of our cultural heritage, the damage of a big natural area and the forcely displacement of several ten thousands people will be an obvious contradiction to the support of these two banks in the past for projects developing cultural activities and conserving nature.
In July 2009 the governments of Germany, Austria and Switzerland have cancelled their export credit guarantee for the Ilisu Project because Turkey had not fulfilled the conditions required by the three European governments. Immediately the three involved European banks, DekaBank, Société Générale and UniCredit/Bank Austria withdrew their engagement too. But the Turkish government continued to seek finance for this project the Turkish minister of finance even visited China for this purpose. In the end of December 2009 the Minister for Environment and Forestry, Veysel Eroglu, announced that negotations are taking place with three Turkish banks for the finance and in January a contract is expected to be signed.
After this statement we sent letters to 12 Turkish banks in which we expressed our concerns on the Ilisu Project. As two of the three involved Turkish banks are known, we wrote additionally to Akbank and Garantibank to reconsider seriously their planned credit for the Ilisu Project. But we did not get any answer from any Turkish bank till today.
Here we warn Akbank and Garantibank, banks that always mention in official statements their respect for nature, human being and law and describe this as its indispensable principles, not to invest in the Ilisu project, one of the most destructive projects in our country.
We reject any financial support from where ever it comes because it will lead to huge social, cultural and ecological losses. First of all the Ilisu Project will flood the 12.000 years old antique city of Hasankeyf at the Tigris River. At least 85 thousands would be affected directly by the project and will loose their livelihood. The result would be impoverishment for them. The Tigris valley, very rich in terms of biodiversity with hundred of bird species and endemic species like the soft-shell turtle, would be destroyed. Because in the affected area of 313 km2 no comprehensive researches have been done, there are more unknown significant values which would be destroyed if the Ilisu Dam is constructed.
If the Akbank and Garantibank will be part of contracts of the Ilisu project through a credit although these expected negative impacts are known, they will be confronted with continuous protests on national and international level. In that framework all sensitive people and organisations will cancel their bank accounts and will end all commercial relations with these two banks.
For the last time we call Akbank and Garantibank, who claim to fulfill high standards in their business, not to give any financial support for the Ilisu Project.