Turkey going to devastate archaeological treasure

PanARMENIAN.Net - Jointly with the Armenian community of Crimea, Secretary of the Union of Armenian Writers and Union of Armenian Artists Sassoun Baryan called on the international community to prevent destruction of Armenian cultural heritage in Turkey, reported Yerkramas, the newspaper of Armenians of Russia.

The statement says in part, "We, Armenians, were exiled from our motherland and scattered throughout the globe resuscitating our culture and cherishing our centuries-old history. Armenian cultural monuments are protected everywhere and we were shocked to hear that Turkey is planning to inundate one of the most ancient monuments of Armenian history - the cave-town of Hasankeyf. We are indignant at cruelty of Turkish authorities which perpetrate another genocide, this time against Armenian history."

Hasankeyf, named by Arabs in the times of their sway, is an ancient Armenian city located along the Tigris River in the Batman Province of southeastern Anatolia, Turkey, in modern times it is densely inhabited by Kurds. It is an ancient city, with roots going back 10,000 years.

In 2006, controversial project to build a dam in Turkey has re-emerged, four years after it collapsed when major backers pulled out. The dam is supposed to be the second largest in Turkey by volume of water.

The Turkish government says the project, planned for more than two decades, will provide much-needed hydro-electric energy and jobs in a poor region.

But opponents believe it will devastate the area's environment and cultural heritage, as well as displacing more than 50,000 people. Dozens of local government ministries, community groups and NGOs have formed a coalition, the Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, to oppose the dam.

British construction firm Balfour Beatty and Swiss bank UBS, part of the European-Turkish consortium involved, pulled out amid international concerns about the project's social and environmental impact. A new consortium has now been formed, headed by Austrian firm VA Tech Hydro, but its applications for export credit guarantees from the Austrian, Swiss and German governments have not yet been decided. NGOs in several countries are appealing for the guarantees - given by governments to protect firms from risk in big overseas infrastructure projects - not to be granted.
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