Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cizre border wetland and Turkish Army

This wetland is near Cizre and on the Turkey, Iraq and Syrian borders in Kurdish ancestral and cultural lands. You can see that all of the hillsides around this area have been burned by the Turkish army. At the park in Cizre, I really wanted to see the local wetlands and riparian habitat. My idea was that this was a great area for a Peace Park. A local man escorted us to this poor degraded wetland. I photographed water withdrawal for irrigation, large fill being placed in wetland, trash, pollution, and overall degradation of habitat. Two Turkish soldiers walked around a field from the guard tower toward us and I photographed them. My friend asked to see my camera and advised me to erase these photos, which I did. As they arrived, I went forward with my US passport, explaining I was an American scientist studying wetlands. They asked to see my camera, and asked me to take more photos off. Then three army vehicles arrived, and the commanding officer appeared. I once again introduced myself and my business. All of the soldiers were very professional and as non menacing as soldiers can be if you are in a forbidden area without permission. The commander asked to see all of my photographs, and asked me to delete all of the photos of the burned hills or pointed north. The mountain to the north, ironically enough, is the mountain that Noah's arc landed on after the waters began to subside.
Illustration of erosion, desiccation and degradation of wetland.

Irrigation system withdrawing water from wetland

The soldiers didn't mind this photo. Notice the old tire, a sure fire indicator world wide of wetlands.

I did get this photo looking north at the burned hills. Kurdish guerillas had killed four soldiers in this are recently, so they were very justified in being concerned about attacks. All Turkish men must serve in the military, and many are very young. They were also guarding Ilusu dam. I must say that they were extremely professional and non menacing, although its always intimidating to be surrounded by army vehicles and soldiers.

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