Sunday, August 14, 2011

Symposia on dam construction and water conditions in Tigris Euphrates

Our second symposia is "Water and Peace: Creating a holistic perspective on the ecological and cultural restoration of the Tigris Euphrates watershed." on the water conditions in the Tigris Euphrates. Most of our invited symposia attendees could not come and sent presentations. Dicle Tubaz Kulic, Doga Dernegi, Turkey, could not attend due to lack of funds. She will be sending a presentation on the desperate condition of people on the Tigris River from dam construction (see information below). Dr. Faiza al Yamani, scientist at the Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research, was unable to attend and sent a powerpoint on conditions in the Kuwait. A port is proposed which will severely damage the area around Bubyon Island, a key production areas for fish and macro-invertebrates for the Gulf and Mesopotamian Marshes. We will include information on the Mesopotamian Marshes by Nature Iraq by showing a movie on the marshes. Nadia Fawzi will give an overview of the watershed. Unfortunately, only one of the guest speakers was able to attend.

It has been very frustrating, as the last UNESCO Conference in Basrah, Iraq, did not consider the boundary conditions of the water coming into the country via the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Another branch of UNESCO (United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) voiced its deep concerns about the construction of Ilusu dam as well as approximately 2,000 additional dam projects proposed in Turkey. The Committee released a report in May 2011 urging the Turkish government to review its legislative policies on evictions, resettlement, and compensation. Communities in Southeastern Turkey, primarily Kurdish, have been evicted from their homes receiving token compensation; they
have been settled in villages with no hope and no future.
The Ilusu dam on the Tigris River in Southeast Turkey will affect up to 78,000 mainly Kurdish people in Turkey and many thousands more downstream in Iraq. Almost half of the affected villagers and further affected 30.000 nomads have no land or land titles. The affected people face a future in extreme poverty, the loss of their livelihoods and history, and the disruption of their
village and family structures.

Additionally, Ilusu dam and other HEPP projects will have major environmental impacts resulting in irreversible conversion and degradation of critical natural habitats on the Tigris River. It will inundate 400 km of riverine ecosystem hosting dozens of threatened species, 300 archaeological sites and the 12,000- year- old town of Hasankeyf. Priority Areas for bio-diversity
forming a single integral ecosystem lie along the Tigris River between the Devege├židi River and the international frontier with Syria and Iraq. This is, as yet, an unaltered stretch of river and, despite dams further down- and upstream, it still has a full complement of riverine habitats and, all importantly, variable water levels and seasonal flows, according to Aysegul Ozpinar, Organizer of the Great March of Anatolia, a protest march from Hasenkeyf to Ankara. For several weeks, activists and dam affected people from all parts of the country marched towards the capital to demonstrate against the destruction of nature in Anatolia.“The right to a healthy environment is a fundamental human right. We will not cease to resist the complete destruction of our waters which the government currently pushes for”.

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