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How Erdogan erased 12,000-year-old ancient cave city Hasankeyf

How Erdogan erased 12,000-year-old ancient cave city Hasankeyf

In the last week of June, 2015, some dozen odd activists stood outside the annual conference of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of Unesco in Germany's Bonn, demanding to list Hasankeyf (Turkish-Kurdistan) in south-east Turkey on the World Heritage List and to stop the construction of Ilisu Dam being constructed by the Turkish government at the Tigris River.

With banners, leaflets, brochures reading 'Keep Hasankeyf Alive', they wanted to draw attention to the expected wrecking of the highest cultural and natural world heritage along the Tigris River in Upper and Lower Mesopotamia.

A scientific survey had revealed that the city and the neighboring Tigris valley were the only region worldwide to meet nine out of the Unesco's 10 criteria for world cultural and natural heritage sites.

"If implemented as planned, the Ilisu Hydroelectric Power Plant project would flood a 136 km stretch of the Tigris Valley, severely affecting a huge population and compromising the habitat of thousands of species, including numerous threatened endemic bird, fish and amphibian species. The area to be flooded includes at least 289 archaeological sites, 199 villages and the ancient city of Hasankeyf, which was described as one of the most important architectural and archaeological sites in Europe by Europa Nostra," said a coalition of civil society organizations.

However, the protests and campaigns—hundreds of them followed—didn't yield any result as the Turkish government offered no support and refused to preserve the area.

<img class="alignnone wp-image-5563 size-full" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/2020-01-14_Hasankeyf-merkez_2.jpg" alt="" width="1600" height="1200" />

Five years later, the project—and complete destruction of the 12,000-year-old ancient cave city—is over. There is no sign of Hasankeyf now. It is submerged fully, forever.

While the world talks about Hagia Sophia being converted into a mosque, there's not much mention of what Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done on the banks of the Tigris in Hasankeyf.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">70,000 people are displaced and a piece of the world history gone.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Hasankeyf?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Hasankeyf</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZBIosjCqwK">pic.twitter.com/ZBIosjCqwK</a></p>
— Omê (@egulltekin_) <a href="https://twitter.com/egulltekin_/status/1280608158147362825?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 7, 2020</a></blockquote>
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"The planned apocalypse by the Turkish government is slowly becoming reality! Caught unprepared and uninformed, the residents of the mainly Kurdish populated Tigris Valley are unjustly made to emigrate from their homeland. Many people, especially in the province of Siirt, had to evacuate their villages without taking some of their belongings because the water was rising quickly. What has been criticized by us and others in the last two decades is happening step by step and displaced people are confronted with impoverishment in the new target settlements," said a statement from 'Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive' in January this year.

"When the historical bazaar was demolished with construction equipment in November (2019), Hasankeyf received another blow. With the demolition of the bazaar, structures going back two thousand years were uncovered. The 'rescue excavation' undertaken by the Ministry of Culture for these structures sparked criticism. Construction equipment kept damaging historical fabric at other sites. The 80 meter high barrier set up around Hasankeyf Castle, which constitutes a crime in terms of landscape, kept on rising," it added further.

<img class="alignnone wp-image-5565 size-full" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/5864066580_7f409d8841_b.jpg" alt="" width="1024" height="683" />

In May, Erdogan launched the first of the six power turbines on the Ilisu Dam promising that when the dam will be fully operational, it will have an annual power generation capacity of 4.1 billion kilowatt hour and will produce power for six million residents every year at full capacity.

Systematically, Erdogan—called "the most dangerous dictator in the world who wants to restore the Ottoman empire" by American politician Tulsi Gabbard—put under water one of the oldest human settlements and changed the lives of nearly one lakh people, several even born in Neolithic cave homes, forever.

His government claimed to have saved some historic monuments under a 'rescue operation' though. And how!
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Historical Zeynel Bey Tomb is relocated to Hasankeyf Cultural Park site to prevent it to submerge underwater due to Ilisu Dam's completion <a href="https://t.co/FTeBkCSS7w">pic.twitter.com/FTeBkCSS7w</a></p>
— Turkey_Pics ?? (@Turkey_Pics) <a href="https://twitter.com/Turkey_Pics/status/863028608004218884?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 12, 2017</a></blockquote>
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The 1,100-tonne, 15th-century Zeynel Bey tomb was lifted and transported more than a mile on a wheeled platform.

"Removal from its original location is a tragic loss for all humanity," said a shocked activist who, like many others, had not seen anything like this before.

Can anyone even imagine Qutub Minar being shifted like this? But, in Erdogan's Turkey, anything's possible.

"If you destroy all this, you are in no way better than the Taliban in Bamiyan, where they destroyed the Buddha statues a few years ago. It's a similar act of idiocy. It's crazy," Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch in Vienna, told Germany's Qantara.de internet portal.

Well, idiocy and craziness, along with cruelty and ruthlessness, are just some of the pillars Turkey's authoritarian presidency stands on right now..