|Ilisu Dam Activist Arrested During Research Visit|
KHRP is deeply concerned about the arrest of Ipek Tasli, a joint coordinator with the Keep Hasankeyf Alive Initiative, during a recent trip to carry out research in areas due to be affected by the Ilısu Dam project in south-eastern Turkey.
Tasli visited Dargeçit on 4 December and investigated official efforts to inform residents in the area about the construction of the dam. Staff at a government office told her that people regularly visited the community outreach office to receive information about the project and that they had been in contact with nearly all of those who would be affected. However, an informal poll of local people suggested that very few even knew where the office was. Tasli next travelled to the site of the dam itself to photograph construction work and speak with people living in the area. She was told that residents in a village there had asked for a local information office to be set up but were yet to receive a reply.
After leaving the village, Tasli and her driver were arrested by gendarmes at around 4pm and were questioned without access to a lawyer. The following day she was brought before a court and she and her driver were accused of disseminating propaganda on behalf of a terrorist organisation. They were eventually released at 2pm on 5 December but Tasli’s camera and photographs were not returned to her.
The Ilısu Dam project stands to displace up to 78,000 people, flood the ancient city of Hasankeyf and reduce downstream water flows to Iraq. KHRP and its partners have long campaigned against the way the project has been designed. Efforts to consult with those who will be affected and to lay the ground for compensation have been grossly inadequate. In October, Germany, Austria and Switzerland threatened to withdraw financial support for the scheme unless Turkey takes concrete steps to meet its obligations.
‘This incident once again underlines the Turkish authorities’ absolute disregard for due process and transparency in relation to the Ilısu Dam scheme and its huge environmental and human rights fallout,’ said KHRP Deputy Director Rachel Bernu. ‘In the course of undertaking a project with such far-reaching implications, the Turkish authorities should be engaging civil society representatives and affected populations in open dialogue, not intimidating them with accusations of terrorism offences. It is to be hoped that the European Export Credit Agencies will take this episode very seriously as they continue to evaluate their involvement.’