13 March 2010
Jean Lambert, the Green MEP for London, will join the call to halt the development of the controversial Ilisu Dam at a demonstration organised by the Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) in London on Monday, March 15.
KHRP and supporters will deliver a signed letter to the headquarters of Turkish bank AKBANK, who, together with GarantiBank, have recently pledged to give financial support to the project, which threatens to devastate the local environment and communities, while continuing to negate international safeguards related to its construction.
Situated 65 km from the border to neighbouring countries Iraq and Syria, its development will create a gigantic reservoir in the Kurdish regions of Southeast Turkey. Around 400 sq km of the as yet largely free-flowing Tigris River and its confluents will be gravely damaged or destroyed and Kurdish territory divided.
Jean, who is KHRP's Advisor on Environmental Rights and has been campaigning to halt the development of the Ilisu Dam since she was elected to European Parliament in 1999, said:
"I am greatly concerned that the Turkish banks AKBANK and GarantiBank have pledged funding to this potentially devastating project and urgently call on them to rethink their positions. If built, the proposed dam will displace up to 78,000 people creating devastating social upheaval completely submerging the historic town of Hasankeyf forever. Being situated on one of most biologically diverse rivers on earth, it will also cause serious environmental harm, health problems and curtail the downstream flow of water to Iraq and Syria.
"The dam is intended to produce hydro-electric power to cover the electricity shortages in Turkey, but there are other ways to meet this need, without destroying the people's lives and the environment.
"These and may other fundamental flaws have prompted strong opposition in the region and yet there has been little public participation, there is an acute shortage of resettlement land and a total failure to protect cultural heritage.
"As these flaws have been exposed, funding from Britain, Germany, Switzerland and Austria has all collapsed and I encourage AKBANK and GarantiBank to take heed of these informed decisions."
Note to Editors
* The protest will be held from 1pm-2.30pm on Monday, March 15, outside AKBANK headquarters, 29 Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5JX.
Jean Lambert is one of eight MEPs representing London and one of two UK Green representatives in the European Parliament. Jean was first elected Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999 European elections and was re-elected in 2004 and 2009.
The Kurdish Human Rights Project is an independent, non-political human rights organisation dedicated to the promotion and protection of the human rights of all people in the Kurdish regions. It is a registered charity, founded and based in London.