Ilisu Dam construction site in Turkey militarized

The controversial Ilisu dam in Turkey’s conflict zone is now completely militarized where tanks escort workers daily while 1600 soldiers protect the dam site. The project already facing armed resistance from the Kurdish People’s Defending Forces (HPG) while it is a potential friction point with Iraq, Syria and possibly the Islamic State.

Ilisu dam nestled in conflict zone ©Numerus Klausus/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons/adapted

Ilisu dam nestled in conflict zone ©Numerus Klausus/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons/adapted

In December 2014, SixDegrees reported about the decision by Turkey to restart work on the dam located on the Tigris, a transboundary river. The dam site that has come under attack from Kurdish militants. The Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive informed that “now, 600 more military personnel are joining 1000 other soldiers who are already based around the dam site. The Turkish government has also recruited about 100 civilians as local militias from villages around the dam site”.

Ercan Ayboga of the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf said that “this situation leads to grave political tensions and human rights violation, apart from the expected dramatic social, cultural and ecological impacts “. On the 3rd of February the HPG attacked a convoy of construction machines which were on their way to the dam site. One of them was damaged and three people were slightly injured. The local people, mostly Kurds do not want to work on the dam as they consider the project a threat to their lives. The government employed new subcontractors from mainly non-Kurdish provinces who are escorted from their base 13 kilometers away from the city of Dargecit (Kerboran).

From August to December 2014 the dam construction was halted after all workers had resigned as a result of the kidnapping of two subcontractors by HPG. At that time approximately 80 percent of the construction had been finished and the hydro-power plant is yet to be constructed. The historical monuments from the heritage town of Hasankeyf,  are intended to be relocated but new information says that technically it is not possible to relocate such monuments as they would most certainly be destroyed during relocation.

More details on the Ilisu dam can be found in a previous news report here.

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