Protest Opens Global Dams Conference

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive – Fools of Munzur – Association for Conservation of Munzur Valley and Natural Life – Yusufeli Culture Association – WEED – International Rivers

Antalya, Turkey -- Dam-threatened people today demonstrated at a major dam-building conference in Turkey to call attention to major problems with Turkish dam development. Attendees at the organization’s annual world congress in Antalya, Turkey were met with a huge banner declaring "No development, but destruction by many dams in Turkey."

"Members of the International Hydropower Association, such as the Austrian company VA Tech, pretend here in Antalya that they care about people and the environment," said Diren Özkan, with the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive. "But in reality, they are building dams in Turkey that will destroy our cultural heritage and displace tens of thousands of people."

Activists have written to the president of the IHA, Dr. Dogan Altinbilek (a Turkish national), to demand that IHA member firm VA Tech withdraw from the Ilisu project because it violates the IHA’s "sustainability guidelines." If built, the Ilisu Dam would destroy Hasankeyf, a 9,000-year-old city, and displace some 50,000 people from their homes.

The IHA meeting agenda in Turkey includes issues such as good practice of hydropower development, hydropower and climate change, and the social and environmental performance of large dams.

"The International Hydropower Association jeopardizes its good name and its credibility by making big public statements about sustainability while supporting their members in building large dams that destroy rivers, forests, fields, archaeological sites and people’s homes," said Mehmet Bidav from the Association for Conservation of Munzur Valley.

"It is not enough just to talk about best practices for the hydropower industry," said Ann Kathrin Schneider of International Rivers Network. "The implementation of standards and the reality on the ground matter. We need less talk and more action. Affected people and the environment need to be put center-stage in all decisions related to the construction of dams. This is the only way to avoid the dam disasters of the past and the present."

The protest included members of the Turkish Yusufeli Culture Association, the Association for Conservation of Munzur Valley, Fools of Munzur and the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive.

Media contacts: 

Diren Özkan, Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive: +90 535 897 7666 (mobile)
Ann-Kathrin Schneider, International Rivers: +90 539 763 5389 (mobile);

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