28 April: Global Action Day for Sur and Hasankeyf

The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement and Save Hasankeyf Initiative have announced that 28 April will be a Global Action Day for both Sur and Hasankeyf.

The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement and Save Hasankeyf Initiative have announced that 28 April will be a Global Action Day for both Sur and Hasankeyf.

Sur is one of Amed's important historical sites, while Hasankeyf is Batman's 12-thousand-year-old city, which will be flooded by the Ilısu Dam.

Explaining how the Global Action Day will evolve, the organisers have invited international environmental organizations and all volunteers to act everywhere. The Mesopotamia Ecology Movement and Save Hasankeyf Initiative compared the destruction of Sur and the flooding of Hasankeyf to the destruction of Palmira by ISIS.

AKP’s plundering policies

In their statement, the organisers have pointed out how the AKP Government is pursuing a systematic plunder policy of the heritage and history of the people as well as people themselves. Indeed, the Turkish government have forced the people living on the shore of the Euphrates river to leave their houses and accepting be rehoused in another area.

The same happened to people in Sur who were forced to leave their houses, in this case because they had been bombed by the state. Whether under the umbrella of “technological advances” (everything but confirmed and necessary) or bluntly bombing them off, it is the people who ultimately suffered from these policies.

"The country has become a symbol of ecological and social plundering. - said activists - This plunder is carried out through high-budget investment projects as well as through the war policy that has been going on since 2015”.

Activists pointed out that Hasankeyf has been a permanent settlement for 12 thousand years and has a unique history closely interwoven with the Euphrates river, and it’s to many extents even richer than Ephesus, Troy and Cappadocia."

UNESCO’s guilty silence

Underlining how UNESCO did not take any action against the Ilisu Dam and the hydroelectric power plant that will condemn Hasankeyf under water, the ecologist activists said:

“Hasankeyf fulfilled 9 of the 10 UNESCO’s criteria. The Ilisu Dam project means that 80,000 people will have their houses stolen from them, because the AKP Government only see Ilisu as one of the strategic tools of economic growth in the building sector”.

The project is now in its final construction phase, protected by heavy military presence and dragging millions of people into a disaster. International companies (especially Austrian company Andritz) have been involved in the construction of the HES project and the destruction of more than 300 historical buildings of Hasankeyf.

Sur: A tale of destruction

Sur is the district of the ancient city of Amed (Diyarbakir) where people have been living for 7 thousand years. From 2007, Sur has been highly well organized both socially and politically with different structures having been set up to deliver more democracy and women's emancipation.

When the AKP launched its unilateral war against the Kurdish people in 2015, it began by attacking Sur and committing military crimes against humanity.

The greatest physical damage suffered by Sur was in March of 2016, when it got under heavy armed attack from the Turkish army.

Thousands of houses were destroyed and thousands of people were forced to leave.  Reminiscent of the civil war in the 90s, these crimes were documented in the February 2017 report of the UN Human Rights Committee.

Last March in Paris, the International People’s Tribunal heard from witnesses how Sur was bombed and destroyed by the Turkish State, how people were burned alive and how hundreds of civilians could not be rescued as police and security forces didn’t allow the wounded to be reached and helped.

The People’s Tribunal will deliver its verdict in May to coincide with a session of the European Parliament. Sur was one of the cases brought forward by the Prosecutor to show how the Turkish State has committed systematic crimes against humanity in Kurdistan, targeting civilians and their elected and legitimate institutions and representatives.

28 April: Hasankeyf and Sur Global Action Day

The organisers pointed out that the destruction of Hasankeyf and Sur is not different from the destruction of the Buddhist Temple by the Taliban in Afghanistan or the destruction of Palmira by DAESH in Syria.

“If a state destroys its cultural and human heritage consciously and systematically, other states and international organizations such as the UN should not remain silent. We expected support from the EU, but they are more interested in making deals with Turkey on refugees instead of defending human rights”.

Saving Hasankeyf and Sur is still possible, said the organisers and saving them will actually give new hope to the possibility of ending these cultural, social and ecological attacks while strengthening the perspective of peace.

“AKP is not as strong as it looks”, said activists calling on people to “get together in your neighborhood and take action on Saturday, April 28. Be creative and take part in the actions”.

Support to the Global Action Day for Sur and Hasankeyf has already been received from various environmental organizations in Europe.