It‘s not too late to save Hasankeyf and Tigris River!

No filling of the Ilisu Dam Reservoir!

For 12.000 years, Hasankeyf in the Southeast of Turkey has been a site of uninterrupted human settlement. With the labour of dozen of cultures this outstanding universal site has been created on the banks of the Tigris River and adjacent small valleys and hills. Recent excavations show that Hasankeyf lays atop of a deep, uncovered cultural heritage. Independent researchers state that Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris Valley are as important historically as Ephesus, Troy and Cappadocia and fulfill 9 out of the 10 UNESCO criteria for a World Heritage Site. It is assumed that Hasankeyf is the twin of Göbeklitepe, a sanctuary site 225 km to the west with a similar age, which led to global new conclusions on history’s first human settlement.

While the Turkish government achieved the inclusion of Göbeklitepe in UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Hasankeyf and the surrounding Tigris Valley is planned to be flooded by the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant Project, which is almost fully constructed. In recent statements the Turkish government announced that it will start the filling of the Ilisu dam reservoir on June 10, 2019. Officials add that in October 2019 Hasankeyf town would be affected by raising water level.

The Ilisu Project was and is a completely wrong and destructive investment. That is why since the beginning the project it was strongly opposed not only at the local level in Turkey, but also in Iraq, Syria and globally. Contrary to official claims, the dam would have no socio-economic or any other benefit for the majority of society in the affected region and up to 80.000 people would loose their livelihoods. Apart from Hasankeyf, an important part of the not yet excavated cultural heritage in Upper Mesopotamia along the Tigris River would be flooded. The biodiversity of the Tigris River ecosystem – still mainly natural – would be degraded significantly. The Ilisu Project would also gravely affect the downstream stretches of the Tigris, seriously jeopardizing the water supply of major Iraqi towns, and Iraqi agriculture would be put under serious risk. In particular the UNESCO site of Mesopotamian Marshes in southern Iraq would be threatened with drying out due to reduced downstream flows.

In the last few years, the government’s program of so-called “monument relocation and consolidation of rocks" has seriously damaged the cultural heritage in Hasankeyf. But there is still so much cultural heritage left to rescue. Despite the project near completion, we believe strongly that the cancellation of the Ilisu project would stimulate a process from which the broader local population, Turkey and Iraq would benefit directly, economically as well as socially and culturally.

We call upon on the Turkish government not to start the filling by the Ilisu Dam, neither in June nor later. Instead a new broad, participative and transparent discussion with all representatives of the local population on the future of the affected five provinces should be started. Based on the common outcomes of these participatory discussions, policies on the future of the Tigris Valley and the surrounding region should be developed and implemented with the agreement of all affected parties. Another condition should be the achievement of a mutual agreement with Iraq and Syria according to international law, which should guarantee sufficient water flows into the Mesopotamian Marshes and southern Iraq.

We call on all people and organizations all around the world to support our demands and to launch similar calls on the Turkish government!

A call signed by:

Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Turkey
Save the Tigris Campaign, Iraq
Mountain Watch, Iran
Humat Dijlah, Iraq
Make Rojava Green Again, Rojava/Syria
Mesopotamia Ecology Movement, Turkey
Waterkeeper Iraq, Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Hasankeyf Matters, Turkey
Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI), Iraq
Ecology Union, Turkey
Munzur Environmental Association, Turkey
Iraqi Social Forum, Iraq
Green Rage Ecology Collective, Turkey
Güzel Zağros’u Destekleme Halk Kampanyası, İran
TMMOB (Union of Chambers of Engineers and Architects) Batman Provincial Coordination Council, Turkey
Civil Development Organization (CDO), Kurdistan Region of Iraq
Campaign Right to Water, Turkey
350Ankara, Turkey
Çoruh Conservation Union, Turkey
Life and Solidarity Travelers, Turkey
Green Resistence – Ecology and Life Newspaper, Turkey
Antalya Ecology Council, Turkey
Alakır Sister-/Brotherhood, Turkey
HDK Ecology Council, Turkey
Lebanon Eco Movement
Eco-Conscience, Tunisia
The Peoples' Advocacy Foundation for Justice and Redress, South Africa
Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition), Asia
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
Environment Support Group, India
Inter-American Vigilance for the Defense and the Right to Water (Red VIDA), The Americas Chile Sustainable, Chile April Foundation (Fundacion Abril), Bolivia
Movement of Defence of Water, Land and Environment (MODATIMA), Chile
Movement of Dam Affected People (MAB), Brazil
Friends of Earth, El Salvador
European Water Movement
Earth Thrive, Balkan
Odbranimo reke Stare planine, Serbia
Ekologistak Martxan, Basque Country
Network for a New Water Culture (XNCA), Catalonia
Ecologists in Action, Spain
World Heritage Watch (WHW), Germany
Platform in Defence of the Ebro River, Catalonia
UPP – Un Ponte Per, Italy
CounterCurrent, Germany
The Corner House, UK
Friends of Earth, France
Italian Forum of Water Movements
Riverwatch - Society for the Protection of Rivers, Austria
Animals Are Sentient Beings, USA
Coordination EAU Île-de-France, France
Plan C, UK
Shoal Collective, UK
Hasankeyf Initiative Berlin, Germany
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA
Coordination EAU bien commun, France
Urgewald, Germany
Idle No More SF Bay, California/USA
EcoMujer, Germany
Solidarity Economy Association, UK
FreshWater Accountability Project, USA
Plataforma Ciudadana Zaragoza sin Fractura, Spain
Association of Popular Culture Alborada, Gallur/Spain
International Rivers, USA
Solifonds, Switzerland
Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO), Netherlands
Ecological Center DRONT, Russia
Ecosocialist Horizons, USA
Socio-Ecological Union International, Russia
Biodiversity Conservation Center, Russia
Earth Law Centre, USA
Green Anti-Capitalist Front, UK
Cambridge Social Ecology Group, UK
Collectif montpelliérain de solidarité avec le peuple kurde, France
Integral Cooperative of Heraklion, Greece
BankTrack, Netherlands
Komite Internazionalistak, Basque Country
Italian Committee For World Water Contract, Italy
Earth Guardians, USA
European Sanitation Initiative (EuSAIN)
Berlin Water Table, Germany
EJAtlas project, ICTA – Autonomous University of Barcelona, Catalonia
Babylonia Journal, Greece
Transnational Institute of Social Ecology (TRISE), Greece
Confederación General del Trabajo (CGT), Spain
Rete Kurdistan, Italy
Basque Platform of Solidarity with Kurdistan, Basque Country
Kurdistan Solidarity Network, UK
Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign, UK
Kurdistan Solidarity Committee Berlin, Germany
Hevalen-Gr, Collective of Solidarity with the Kurdish Struggle, Crete/Greece
Revolutionary Communist Group, UK


Email: hasankeyfgirisimi (at)
Twitter: @hasankeyfdicle