Hasankeyf, which is threatened by the Ilısu Dam project, is becoming a prohibited zone. Despite a judgment of the Council of State suspending work on the project due to the absence of an Environmental Impact Report, barriers have been put up around the bridge in the 12,000 year-old town to prevent visitors gaining access. The ban on visitors going to the caves in the town introduced after a rock fall is also still in place.
Although efforts are continuing for Hasankeyf to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage list tourists wishing to see the town are encountering new obstacles. The police have put up a road block preventing access. And finally, security guards from the company in charge of the project are stopping tourists who want to take photos of the old bridge, after barriers were placed around it to protect it from the water that will rise once the dam is built.
The fate of Hasankeyf depends on 30 March
Recep Kavuş, an activist from the Save Hasankeyf Initiative, said that there has been a deafening silence about the Ilısu Dam recently, adding that the party that wins the election of 30 March will determine the destiny of the town. Kavuş added: “Hasankeyf is under threat from the Ilısu Dam. Time is running out. According to the government the dam will be finished in 2 years. Work has been stepped up for relocating the town. Hasankeyf is just awaiting its fate alone and without resisting. Unfortunately, civil society organisations are unable to raise their voices. Everything depends on the attitude of the party that wins the elections. The decision of the people of Hasankeyf is important.”
The construction firm ignores the courts
Kavuş said that despite there being a stay of execution made by the Council of State the construction company had carried out excavations under the ancient bridge. “Despite all this illegality, political parties and democratic organisations have no programme or plan. The candidates should explain to the people what they intend to do to save Hasankeyf. Reactions made once Hasankeyf has been submerged like Zeugma will be futile. We must raise our voices in opposition before our cultural legacy is wiped off the map.”