Homeless as flooding of 12,000-year old town starts

Numerous families from the 12, 000-year old town of Hasankeyf in southeastern Turkey will soon be left homeless as their houses are flooded by the Ilısu dam, the Evrensel news portal reported.

Hasankeyf, one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited places, will soon be underwater as the controversial project nears completion.

Fifteen families denied housing in the new settlement three kilometers away will soon be left with no electricity, Evrensel reported.

Locals said, if the power goes off, they could not survive and would be forced to move away.

The “new Hasankeyf” was, according to the Guardian newspaper, only built to house 700 families, but there are many more.

According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, in 2012, the town had a population of 3,129 and the district more than 6,000 people.

Sociologist Ali Ergul from the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive told the T24 news portal last year that a total of 199 settlements and the town center of the centuries-old Hasankeyf could be partially or totally submerged by the dam, affecting some 80,000 people.

Most of the Hasankeyf’s residents have moved to the new town where authorities built new houses and shops a few kilometers up the hill.

However, there are still families residing in Hasankeyf who are still waiting on the authorities to provide them with housing in the newly-built town, according to Evrensel.

Many local and international groups have raised objections against the displacement of locals and the loss of archaeological sites, the Atlantic magazine has reported.

However, the Turkish government has pressed ahead with the project as a part of the Southeast Anatolia Project in an attempt to build dams in the region to produce hydro-electric power.

Keep Hasankeyf Alive -an initiative to raise awareness on the risk of destruction Hasankeyf has been facing- issued a statement pointing to the rising of water level and said “Almost two weeks ago the raising dam reservoir reached the 12,000 years old town Hasankeyf which is one of the most magnificent cultural and natural heritage sites at our planet. The planned “apocalypse” by the Turkish government is becoming a reality slowly!”.

Musa, one of the locals who remained in Hasankeyf, was quoted by Evrensel as saying, “Only people with no right of housing in the new town are staying here. Where could these people go, and how could they pay rent after this age?”

The ruling AKP’s former Culture Minister Ertugrul Gunay said, “Hasankeyf’s nature will be damaged, this project was wrong from the beginning,” the Cumhuriyet daily newspaper reported.

Gunay said he had attempted to revise the project in a way to preserve Hasankeyf’s cultural heritage; however, he was told that it is already too late for such revision.

Warning: 12,000-year old town in Turkey will be flooded by dam in October 

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