Ilisu Dam-Affected People Expropriated amidst Ultimatum

Turkish Government snubs Europeans shortly before the Deadline

 (Berlin, Vienna, Zurich – 9.6.2009) The Stop Ilisu Campaign learned today that the Government of Turkey continues to expropriate people near the Ilisu Dam Site on the Tigris River.

This is a clear breach of the export conditions from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. On May 6, courts in Turkey have withdrawn the land rights of 30 families near Hasankeyf, and have paid them a meagre compensation in return. This proves yet again that the Government of Turkey is not in a position, or not inclined, to fulfil international standards for dam building.

 „The constant disregard for the conditions from the European governments as well as the ignorance of the Turkish authorities vis-à-vis the European partners has to have consequences. The Europeans need to permanently withdraw from the project”, says Ulrich Eichelmann, a spokesperson of the Stop Ilisu Campaign.

 Ludwig Fliesser, a student of the University of Vienna, has uncovered the scandal concerning the unlawful expropriations while working on his diploma near the Ilisu Dam Site in Turkey. He did research in Ankara and in the hamlets near the dam site on the shores of the Tigris River. While in Turkey, the inhabitants of Kesmeköprü III, a small village opposite of Hasankeyf, showed him the court orders ordering the expropriation of 30 families. The court order was dated May 6, which is during the time when the Ilisu Dam contracts between Turkey and the European countries were suspended.

 The Turkish authorities wanted to purchase land for “New-Hasankeyf” opposite of the antique town doomed to be flooded by the Ilisu reservoir. However, instead of compensating the affected people with a sum representing the replacement value of their land, and according to international standards, the authorities tried to compensate the people with a ridiculous amount. The farmers felt cheated and refused the compensation deal. The Government of Turkey, in response, went to the district courts in Batman in January 2009, to make the expropriation effective, notwithstanding the refusal of the affected people. In June, the affected people learned from the district court that the meagre compensation amount had been further cut by 40% and the land transferred to the government. The affected people are now faced with ruin.

 „The decision of the court in Batman is a scandal. The water authority of Turkey once again plays with the Europeans and blatantly ignores the suspension of the contracts”, says Christine Eberlein of the Swiss NGO Berne Declaration.

 The Turkish water authorities had already expropriated villages near the Ilisu Dam Site in 2007, paying them a meagre compensation amount. After pressure from the Stop Ilisu Campaign, the three European governments had stopped the process and Turkey had vowed to improve on the management of compensation. “With the latest expropriations, the Turkish government demonstrates that it has no interest in cooperating with Europe. It is high time to withdraw from this disastrous project”, states Heike Drillisch, the coordinator of the German Ilisu Campaign.

 Experts and representatives of the Export Credit Agencies are near the Ilisu Dam Site this week to verify whether Turkey has fulfilled the conditions. Germany, Austria and Switzerland are likely to decide afterwards whether to remain in the project or to withdraw from it. This will impact the loans for the Ilisu project provided Société Générale, UniCredit/Bank Austria, and the German DekaBank who have been under heavy criticism from civil society organisations for their engagement in the project.


Ulrich Eichelmann, ECA Watch Austria,  Tel.
+43 – 676 662 1512
Thomas Wenidoppler, ECA Watch Austria, Tel.
+43 – 650 822 5200
Christine Eberlein, Berne Declaration, Tel. +41 – 794263056
Heike Drillisch, GegenStrömung – Ilisu Campaign Germany, Tel. +49 – 177 – 345 26 11