Skip to content

KHRP | Kurdish Human Rights Project

narrow screen resolution wide screen resolution Increase font size Decrease font size Default font size default color brown color green color red color blue color

Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

You are here: 
Skip to content

Charity Awards

Charity Awards

Gruber Prize


Gruber Justice Prize



Press Release from KHRP, Corner House, Ilisu Dam Campaign


September 18, 2002: The elaborate formal ground-breaking ceremony for the Baku-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline project, featuring a battery of dignitaries including the presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan and Georgia and the US Energy Secretary, takes place in Baku today against a backdrop of unanswered questions.

Widespread concern, including several articles in major media outlets, has already been raised over the “colonialist” implications of the Host Government Agreement (HGA), the contract signed between Turkey and BTC Co., the consortium of oil companies--led by BP--backing the BTC project. The agreement exempts the oil companies from all domestic Turkish legislation, both extant and future, bar the constitution.

The HGA also forces Turkey to pay compensation to BTC Co. in the event that the project’s “Economic Equilibrium” is disrupted, and creates a corridor through some of Turkey’s most volatile regions which is outside the control of the Turkish polity, effectively dividing Turkey into three countries.

A Fact-Finding Mission to the region last month, undertaken by a coalition of concerned international NGOs, discovered further deficiencies in the planning, design and implementation of the BTC project. These include issues of consultation, compensation and resettlement, and the treatment of ethnic minorities in the region, as well as the socio-political context in which the project is taking place.

Consultation: The BP Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) claims to have consulted, either directly or by telephone, approximately 270 communities within or near the pipeline corridor [1]. Yet of the rural settlements visited by the FFM – all of them both directly affected by the pipeline and on the BTC/BOTAS list as having been consulted – only half have, in fact, received any form of consultation at all [2].

One ‘community’ [3], recorded as having been consulted by telephone, had been deserted for many years. Houses had fallen into ruins; there were neither telephones nor anyone to answer them. Less than one-quarter of the FFM’s sample of other concerned parties had been officially informed about the project [4].

Questionnaires distributed are vague, skewed, fail to provide adequate information and discourage objections to the project. Responsibility for liaising with affected communities rests on the construction contractor, an obvious conflict of interest.

The FFM therefore found the BTC project in violation of four World Bank guidelines on consultation [5].

Compensation: BTC Co.’s insistence, in contradiction to earlier claims, on compensating only formally registered landowners, plus the absence of up-to-date land surveys, means that only a tiny fraction of land users will be compensated. Since many of the registered landowners are dead, and their descendants can only access their compensatory accounts through impossibly costly court action, BTC Co. will be paying the dead while depriving the living.

There is strong evidence to suggest that compensation amounts will be far below market value, and there are no public funds available to those who wish to challenge their valuations. Turkey’s high inflation rates mean that expected delays in payment will nullify compensation even further.

The FFM therefore found the BTC project in violation of at least two World Bank guidelines on compensation, those on Involuntary Resettlement and Indigenous Peoples.

Ethnic groups and social context: Although the BTC travels through regions with large Kurdish and Çerkez ethnic populations, at no point does the EIA name such minorities, nor does it discuss the implications of the presence of ethnic minorities for the project.

The lack of freedom of expression in the region invalidates the entire concept of free consultation and discussion. The Turkish polity's powerful commitment to an ideology of civic unity and the "indivisible integrity" of the state has been associated with the often brutal repression of political and cultural expressions of ethnic minority identity.

Limitations on Kurdish cultural expression also make proper consultation impossible. No written Kurdish documents on the proposals are available, for example, since broadcasting or publishing in Kurdish was banned until August 2002. Those interviewed by foreign delegations are fully aware that dissenters are likely to be visited by police or village guards (korucular), and so may modify their responses accordingly.

BTC and BOTAS make no reference to the delicate socio-political context in which they operate.

For further information, please contact Anders Lustgarten on 020 7405-3835, or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

[1] BTC Project EIA, Supplement II Series C: Social Baseline Maps.
[2] The FFM’s sample is, of course, small, and the FFM does not suggest that it is representative of the whole route. However, for a random sample to find so many communities wrongly reported as having been consulted is very worrying.
[3] Haçibayram village in Erzincan province, marked on Map 20 C of the EIA's Supplement II Series C: Social Baseline Maps
[4] These were not explicitly identified by BTC/BOTAS as having been consulted, but belong to the "stakeholder" groups identified on p. A1-16 of the EIA. This group included three journalists, two mayors, representatives of two political parties, two lawyers, and an NGO.
[5] Operational Policies on Consultation, 4.01Environmental Assessment, 4.04 Natural Habitats, 4.12 Involuntary Resettlement and 4.20 Indigenous Peoples.