New Hasankeyf flooded

The twelve-thousand-year-old cultural site Hasankeyf is gradually sinking into a reservoir. Meanwhile, the people who resettled to "New Hasankeyf" are fighting against flooding because of the unfinished sewerage system.

Access to the 12,000-year-old settlement Hasankeyf in the Northern Kurdistan province of Batman, once the basis of life for up to 100,000 people, is now only possible with a special permit. The historical cultural site is flooded by the Ilisu dam on the Tigris. With it a unique history is lost. More than fifty villages had to make way for the reservoir and have been completely flooded.

But while it is planned to flood 85 villages completely and 124 villages partially, the General Directorate for State Hydraulic Works (DSİ) has built only four new settlements, forcing tens of thousands of people to emigrate to Siirt, Batman, Amed (Diyarbakir) and other large cities with meagre compensation payments. Among them are over ten thousand landless people who have received no compensation at all. These people are supported neither by DSİ, nor by the fiduciary communities.

But "New Hasankeyf", the resettlement site two kilometres to the north of the historic cultural site, is also under water. Heavy rainfall and flooding caused by meltwater from Raman Mountain have caused the unfinished sewerage system to overflow. In many places roads, meadows, fields and cellars are flooded. Especially the road connecting the city hall building with the hospital is difficult to drive on. The badly laid cobblestones cannot withstand the water and rain as advertised by the government.

The flooding of Hasankeyf began at the end of July. The cultural site, whose roots reach back to the Bronze Age, is a unique place in human history: twenty Eastern and Western cultures have left their traces here. 5,500 caves, hundreds of previously discovered monuments and a fascinating interweaving with rocks and the Tigris give the site global significance. According to experts, Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris valley, one of the last remaining major river ecosystems in Turkey, meet nine out of ten criteria for inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But the Turkish government wants the historic city to be destroyed for the 50-year operating life of the Ilisu hydroelectric power plant, one of the world's most controversial dam projects.