Let us Communalize Land, Water, and Energy

Protests against the Ilisu dam

Ilisu Dam protest close to the dam site!

The Ilisu dam threatens the livelihoods of up to 80.000 people, and the rich cultural heritage sites such as the 10.000 years old settlement Hasankeyf and the still living river ecosystem of the Tigris River. Four times, the Ilisu Dam has been halted due to different reasons in the past, the last time in summer 2014, but the Turkish state has continued with the construction and has now militarized the dam site.

New Compass has brought attention not on the ongoing revolution in Rojava, but also attention to the popular initiative to keep Hasenkeyf alive. This struggle against the Ilisu mega-dam project—and for collective water rights—is an integral part of the struggle for local democracy and community in this region. For more background information about this conflict see also the interview with Ercan Ayboğa. In our new book, Social Ecology and Social Change, activists Johanna L. Rivera and Toon Bijnens dedicate an essay to discuss these campaigns, with a special focus on developments in Iraq.

This struggle is ongoing. March 29th, 2015, more than 500 people protested against the destructive Ilisu Dam project in the town of Dargecit. The demonstrators aimed at protesting at the dam site, but were prevented by the police.

The protestors came from different dam affected provinces in order to protest the ongoing construction of the Ilisu Dam and Hydroelectric Power Plant project. They gathered in the small city of Dargecit and wanted to march toward the dam site that is 12 km away. They could not overcome the police barricade.

The protestors carried banners with the slogans: "Let's communalize our land, water and energy and build up the democratic and free life,” “No to hydro dams and security dams,” “No nature, no life” and “We do not want dams in Dargecit.”

The demonstrators demanded that the state, companies and workers stop immediately the construction of the dam, which would be a social, ecological and cultural disaster for the whole region. The DBP co-chairperson of Dargecit, Hatice Gevcan, and an activist of our initiative from Batman stressed furthermore that the population of Dargecit and the whole affected region is against the Ilisu Dam and that in a period of negotations between the Kurdish political movement and the Turkish state this dam has the potential for increasing the existing political and armed conflict.

An activist from the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement also emphasized that the capitalist system considers humans and nature as objects of exploitation. Behind this approach is the nation state, which for more than hundred years have destroyed nature and culture. Consequently the struggle should also be against the existing political-economic system.

This protest was part of an action day against destructive dams in Turkish-Kurdistan and was coordinated by the Mesopotamian Ecology Movement, which our initiative is part of. In five locations thousands of people criticized the policy of the Turkish state, which does not take into consideration the view of people in the region.


Ilisu Protest

Editorial Comment

Ercan Ayboğa is active in the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive. Check their webpage at: www.hasankeyfgirisimi.net. Contact them at hasankeyfgirisimi@gmail.com.