The Southern marshes (Iraq)

Launch of petition to save World Heritage in Mesopotamia threatened by the Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River

Today a worldwide petition addressed to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee is launched with the objective to save unique world cultural and natural heritage on the Tigris River inMesopotamia. Particularly, the unique antique town Hasankeyf, with a past of at least 10,000 year of continuous settlement, in the mainly Kurdish populated Southeast of Turkey and theMesopotamian Marshlands in South of Iraq, the largest wetlands of the Middle East cultivated by Millions of “Marsh Arabs“, are threatened by the Ilisu Dam. It is one of the most controversial damsin the world.

Besides the severe cultural and ecological impacts, this major dam also threatens the right to water, food and self-determined socio-economic development of at least several hundred thousand peopleon both sites of the border. Additionally, as it can be seen on the Euphrates River, large upstream dams in Turkey have negative impacts on the political stability.

This petition is initiated by four civil society organizations from different parts of Mesopotamia. For many years they have been struggling for a social and ecological development based on thepreservation of the cultural and natural heritage in this region. Upper and lower Mesopotamia has been the starting point of the transition to sedentary agriculture and of the first civilizations ofhumanity. This region provides the exceptional chance to gain further knowledge of humanity’s history. This important heritage should not be destroyed for the Ilisu Project and other dams with alifespan of 50 to 70 years. Such dams are an expression of ignorance, non-participative society and an outdated development model.

The Turkish government is not interested in any dialogue with the affected local people and their representatives and has not had any serious discussion with the downstream states of Iraq and Syria.The government of Iraq does not show the necessary effort to act against the destructive dams from the upstream states Turkey and Iran. One result is that today neither Hasankeyf nor theMesopotamian Marshlands are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Turkish government has never nominated Hasankeyf for inclusion on the World Heritage List ignoring all appealsof people and organizations asking for this step. The Marshlands of Mesopotamia are on the Tentative List submitted by Iraq to the World Heritage Committee in 2003, but since then no further stepshave been taken. In order to conserve the tremendous cultural and natural heritage of Mesopotamia, the UNESCO must make an effort by putting pressure on the governments of Turkey not to buildthe Ilisu Dam and on Turkey and Iraq to nominate Hasankeyf and the Mesopotamian Marshlands for their list of World Heritage Sites.

In this framework the initiators of this petition call everybody in the region and in the world to join this petition in order to remind the UNESCO of its responsibility to use all possible means todevelop pressure.

The initiators of this petition have chosen March 14th for the launch of the petition as it is the International Day of Action for Rivers. Join our petition at the following website as an individual as well as organization:

http://www.change.org/petitions/unesco-world-heritage-committee-save-world-heritage-on-the-tigris-river-in-mesopotamia

The petition letter can be found in several languages: EnglishSpanishTurkish

For offline signatures a Signature List can be downloaded here

More information on the the Ilisu Dam Project and Hasankeyf can be found here:
http://www.gegenstroemung.org/drupal/sites/default/files/Ilisu_UNESCO_Petition_2012_Background.pdf

Initiatiators of the petition

– Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Batman/Turkey, www.hasankeyfgirisimi.com
– ICSSI – Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, www.iraqicivilsociety.org and http://icssi08.ning.com/
– CDO – Civil Development Organisation, Sulaimaniah/Iraq-KRG, www.cdo-iraq.org
– CENESTA – Centre for Sustainable Development, Teheran/Iran, www.cenesta.org

Supporting Organizations

International:

– CounterCurrent, Potsdam/Germany
– Berne Declaration, Zurich/Switzerland
– ECA-Watch, Vienna/Austria
– The Corner House, London/UK
– International Rivers, Berkeley/USA
– A Sud, Italy
– BankTrack, Amsterdam/Netherlands
– Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, London/UK
– Both Ends, Amsterdam/Netherlands
– BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany)
– CDCA – Centro di Documentazione sui Conflitti Ambientali, Italy
– CENI – Kurdish Women Office for Peace, Düsseldorf/Germany
– Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA), Argentina
– CIVAKA AZAD – Kurdish Centre für Public Relations, Germany
– Comnité de Solidaritat amb els Pobles Indígenes d´Amèrica, Barcelona/Spain
– CRBM – Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank, Italy
– Dersim Freiheitsinitiative, Berlin/Germany
– East-West Diwan, Köln/Germany
– ECA Watch Global
– EcoDoc Africa, South Africa
– Ecologistas en Accion, Spain
– Ecomujer e.V., Düsseldorf/Germany
– European Syriac Union (ESU)
– European Syriac Union Youth (ESU-Youth)
– Fairfin, Brussels/Belgium
– FIOM-CGIL, Italy
– Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung, Berlin/Germany
– Friends of the Earth, USA
– Garifuna people of Honduras, Honduras
– Green Watershed China
– Himalayan and Peninsular Hydro-Ecological Network-HYPHEN
– Institute for Ecology and Action Anthropology (infoe), Cologne/Germany
– Insurrección Autónoma, Honduras
– International Accountability Project, San Francisco/USA,
– International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), Germany
– International Support Kurds in Syria Association – SKS
– Kurd-Akad – Network of Kurdish Graduates, Germany
– Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France), France
– MAD – Movimento armonia dinamica (Dynamic armony movement), Italy
– Mezopotamian Development Society (MESOP), Germany
– NABU – Naturschutzbund, Berlin/Germany
– Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (ODG – Debtwatch Spain), Barcelona/Spain
– Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH), Honduras
– Repsolmata, Barcelona/Spain
– Setem, Madrid/Spain
– Un Ponte Per, Italy
– Urgewald, Berlin/Germany
– Ver.di, Germany
– Water and Energy Users’ Federation-Nepal (WAFED)
– Waterkeeper Alliance, New York/USA
– XNCA – Network for a New Water Culture Catalunya, Catalonia/Spain
– YEK-KOM – Federation of Kurdish Associations in Germany, Düsseldorf/Germany
– YXK – Association of Students from Verband Kurdistan e.V., Germany

From Turkey:
– Allianoi Initiative Group, Izmir/Turkey
– Cilo Nature Association, Hakkari/Turkey
– Initiative to Conserve Culture, Cizre/Turkey
– Munzur Nature Activists, Dersim/Turkey
– Nature Association (Doga Dernegi), Ankara/Turkey
– Pasur Association for Conservation of Natural Life, Diyarbakir/Turkey

From Iran:
– Alpine Club, Teheran/Iran
– Ardakan association for protection of ancient heritage, Ardakan-Yazd/Iran
– Bargah-e Mehr Association, Isfahan/Iran
– Center of Bargah Mehr, Iran
– Center of Chahar Sogh Kavir Ardakan, Iran
– Charsoogh-e Kavir Ardakan association, Ardakan-Yazd/Iran)
– Coalition of supporters of Isfahan’s cultural heritage, Iran
– Culture Promotion organization of Great Iran, Isfahan/Iran
– Fars Green Center, Iran
– Friends of Heritage Afraz, Iran
– Green Mountain, Iran
– Iranian Cultural Association of Greater Columbus, Iran
– Iraninlogy’s home of ancient age, Shiraz/Iran
– Iran Watchers, Iran
– Jame Jahan Tourism Institute, Isfahan/Iran
– Javanan Sepide Persian Society, Mazandaran/Iran
– Non governmental organization of iranian architects (design and
explanation), Iran
– Persian culture association, Aligoodarz-Lorestan/Iran
– The Afraz cultural heritage enthusiasts association, Tehran/Iran
– The Community of the Lovers of the Cultural and Natural Heritage of
Varzaneh, Varzaneh-Isfahan/Iran
– The House of Eternal Culture, Shiraz/Iran
– The Isfahan’s Zendeh rood cultural heritage enthusiasts, Isfahan/Iran
– The Taryana Khuzestan Cultural Heritage Enthusiasts, Khuzestan/Iran
– The Toofa Shooshtar cultural heritage enthusiasts association, Khuzestan/Iran
– Women Society Against Environmental Pollution, Iran

From Iraq/Iraq-KRG:
– Alsumaria Iraqi TV, Iraq
– Democracy and Human Rights Development Organization – DHDO, Iraq-KRG
– Development Now, Sulaymania/Iraq-KRG
– Green Kurdistan Association – GKA, Iraq-KRG
– Iraq national Library & Archives, Iraq
– Kurdistan Save Children – KSC, Iraq-KRG
– Kurdistan Inernational Youths Organization – KIYO, Iraq-KRG
– Nature Iraq, Iraq
– Sulyon, Sulaymania/Iraq-KRG
– Tomooh Organization for Social Development, Baghdad/Iraq
– Women Talent Development Organization, Iraq-KRG
– Youth Activity Organization – YAO, Iraq-KRG