THE KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT (KHRP) GAVE EVIDENCE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TRADE AND INDUSTRY SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE PROPOSED ILISU DAM IN SOUTH EAST TURKEY
The Select Committee hearing, held on Wednesday 26th January 2000, saw KHRP and Balfour Beatty, the British company heading the construction consortium, give evidence concerning the Ilisu Dam project.
The storm surrounding Stephen Byers' statement on 21 December 1999, in which he indicated that the British government would be "minded to grant export credit guarantee" to the Ilisu Dam proposal, has left in its wake a government reportedly widely divided in its support for the project.
The building of the Ilisu Dam will affect some 36,000 people, will result in the flooding of 68 villages, and the destruction of the 10,000 year old city of Hasankeyf.
Any decision by the Government to provide export credit guarantee to Balfour Beatty, who are leading the construction consortium, will be conditional upon four areas of key concern being addressed by the Turkish authorities.
Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, said:
"The conditions laid out by Stephen Byers are wholly inadequate. Not only do they fail to provide any mechanisms by which the Turkish authorities can be held to account for future violations of the conditions: but they also substantially fail to address the grave concerns contained within the two reports commissioned by the DTI."
Mark Muller, Chairman of KHRP, said:
"The reports commissioned by the DTI raise fundamental doubts about the viability of the British government's backing of the Ilisu Dam project. The reports acknowledge the utter lack of consultation of the local Kurdish people, raise serious concerns about the likelihood of an effective resettlement plan, and add weight to the increasingly alarming possibilities of water wars in the Middle East. We are dismayed that the British government is considering backing a project which fails to adhere to international guidelines and is so abysmally laced with discrepancies, inaccuracies and oversights".
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
1. The Kurdish Human Rights Project works for the promotion and protection of human rights within the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria and the former Soviet Union.
2. The proposed Ilisu dam, part of Turkey's Southeastern Anatolia Project (Turkish initials GAP), will affect some 36,000 people, flood 68 villages and destroy the 10,000 year old city of Hasankeyf.
3. The Ilisu hydro-electric power project is to be situated on the Tigris river, 65 km upstream from the border with Syria and Iraq. With a planned capacity of 1,200 MW, it will be the largest hydro-electric project in Turkey. 4. The project, costing an estimated $2 billion, will be built by an international consortium, led by Swiss company Sulzer Hydro. Companies in the consortium include Balfour Beatty (UK), Impregilo (Italy) and Skanska (Sweden). With the World Bank declining to become involved in GAP projects, the financing is to be arranged by the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), with the Export Credit Agencies of Austria, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the USA currently considering whether to provide financial support for the project.