Ilisu Dam Opponents Occupy Brandenburger Gate in Berlin

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Environment and Human Rights Activists today occupied the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany

For images from the occupation of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, contact Kai Schäfer,, 0160 - 252 8942

Berlin -- "We have occupied the Brandenburg Gate to show the people here in Germany what their government is currently planning in Turkey," explains activist Matthias Dittmer. "We have a couple of hundred years of history here in Berlin -- the submergence of Hasankeyf would destroy a 9,000 year-old history." The direct action was called by environment and human rights organizations protesting the grant of an export credit guarantee by the German government for the controversial Ilisu Dam in Turkey.

The Ilisu dam will block the Tigris just short of the border between Turkey, Iraq and Syria. The German company Zueblin will profit from the German export credit guarantee. "On today’s World Action Day against Dams, I appeal to the Chancellor and the German government not to guarantee the funding for the Ilisu dam project," said Human rights campaigner Bianca Jagger, who has opposed the Ilisu project for seven years.

Speaking from London Jagger added, "I hope the company Zueblin will reconsider their decision to be a partner in the construction of the dam, it should follow the example of the British company Balfour Beatty; the company withdrew in 2002 due to unresolved social and environmental problems. The Ilisu dam will cause great harm to the people of the area. It will lead to the forceful relocation of approximately 50,000 people. The cultural patrimony of the region will be destroyed, and as a result the people will also lose their homeland and identity. It is my hope that this project will be stopped!"

If the Ilisu dam is built aproximately 50,000 people will be forcibly uprooted. Both the environment and cultural patrimony of the area will be destroyed. Ann Kathrin Schneider, International Rivers Network policy analyst, says, "This project violates international standards and international law. The German government will share responsibility for the environmental and human rights impacts of this dam."

"The people in South-East Turkey have experienced enough grief with mega dams," says Ercan Ayboga from the Initiative to Save Hasankeyf. "Practically everyone in our region opposes the Ilisu project. We affected people want to have a say in our future and do not want the Turkish or the German government to decide what is good for us."