NGOs Denounce Funding for Turkey's Controversial Ilisu Dam

Monday, March 26, 2007

German Government Export Credit Guarantee Condemned

The German government’s March 26 decision to grant an export credit guarantee for the Ilisu dam in southeast Turkey has prompted widespread criticism and condemnation from a number of human rights and environmental groups. "The German Government has sacrificed people, culture and the environment in order to enable companies to make a profit," argued Heike Drillisch of WEED, a German environmental and development organization. "The pro-Ilisu decision is a disgrace for Germany."

Some 80 percent of the affected population opposes the project. Despite that, the German government’s decision was taken with little input from the affected communities, their elected representatives or surrounding municipalities. "The Federal Government has obviously yielded to pressure from the Turkish government, instead of respecting international standards," said Drillisch.

"The approval of the export credit guarantee for the Ilisu dam is more than a disappointment for us, the affected people. By its two-faced behavior the German government has lost all credibility," charged Ercan Ayboga, from the German Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive. "The German Government is taking part in a great crime against the culture and the environment and is contributing to human rights violations against tens of thousands of people," said Ayboga. "The Ilisu dam is such a destructive project that it cannot be improved -- It must be stopped."

Regine Richter of urgewald, a German environmental and human rights organization, stated: "By taking this decision the German government knowingly accepts irreversible biodiversity degradation and the destruction of habitat for many birds. No complete environmental impact assessment for the project has yet been done. This would be inconceivable in any European project."

The project may not even be compatible with Turkish laws as legal proceedings are still pending in Turkey. Thus, the German Government is contradicting its own criteria for the assignment of export credit guarantees.

Even the Turkish government has implicitly acknowledged the project’s unpopularity by announcing recently that it plans to deploy 5.000 soldiers to the area in order to ensure security. "Our resistance will continue. We will constantly confront the German government about this irresponsible decision," declared the NGOs. They are examining legal steps to be taken against this decision by the German Government.

Meanwhile, on Friday, March 23 the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive opened a Park of Hope and Solidarity in conjunction with international environmental activists, human rights activists and European and German parliamentarians.


  • Heike Drillisch, WEED, +49 177 - 345 26 11
  • Regine Richter, urgewald, +49 170 - 2930 725