Save World Heritage on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia
Petition to Save World Heritage on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia to the distinguished members of the World Heritage Committee…
We address you gravely concerned about the threat posed to potential World Heritage Sites in
Mesopotamia, a region of great cultural and natural importance which is endangered by the Ilisu
Dam Project on the Tigris River.
This area is unique in many ways. It hosts great geographical, climatic and biological diversity. The step of transition from nomadic pastoralism to sedentary agriculture took place here.
Thousands of archaeological sites bear testimony of dozens of cultures which intermingled here and provide the exceptional chance to gain further knowledge of humanity’s history.
Nowadays the inhabitants of Mesopotamia, particularly Kurds, Arabs, Aramaeans and Turkmen, are the carriers of this worldwide unique cultural heritage. However, the tremendous cultural and natural heritage is in great danger due to the construction
of the Ilisu Dam on the Turkish stretch of the Tigris River.
Designed to impound an area of more than 310 km², it would impact the right to food and water of thousands of people in and around
the planned reservoir as well as downstream. It also threatens precious riverine ecosystems hosting numerous endangered species, hundreds of archaeological sites including the ancient town of Hasankeyf in Turkey, as well as the Mesopotamian Marshes in Iraq.
Hasankeyf, with a history of at least 10,000 years, is unique in being continuously populated from Neolithic times through Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages until today. It is a world
class example of a site that combines both outstanding cultural heritage and natural landscape features.
A recent study shows that together with the surrounding Tigris valley, Hasankeyf fulfils nine out of the ten UNESCO criteria for World Heritage Sites – a level reached by hardly any existing site. Should the Ilisu Dam be built, this heritage will be lost forever.
Owing to their outstanding value as the largest wetland in the Middle East and their function as a home to the ‘Marsh Arabs’ with their distinct 5,000-year-old culture, the Marshlands of
Mesopotamia are on the Tentative List submitted by Iraq to the World Heritage Committee in 2003. After severe deterioration in the past decades, a major restoration program was started
after 2003. The progress achieved is under threat now due to the construction of the Ilisu Dam.
Dear Committee Members,
We, the undersigned, urge you to assess the impacts of the Ilisu Dam construction on the World Heritage of the Mesopotamia region and to insist on the State Party to refrain from any action
infringing upon any sites bearing the potential to become a World Heritage Site.
Initiators of the petition
- Initiative to Keep Hasankeyf Alive, Batman/Turkey, www.hasankeyfgirisimi.com
- ICSSI – Iraq Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, www.iraqicivilsociety.org and
- CDO – Civil Development Organisation, Sulaimaniah/Iraq-KRG, www.cdo-iraq.org
- CENESTA – Centre for Sustainable Development, Teheran/Iran, www.cenesta.org
- CounterCurrent, Potsdam/Germany
- Berne Declaration, Zurich/Switzerland
- ECA-Watch, Vienna/Austria
- The Corner House, London/UK
- International Rivers, Berkeley/USA
- BankTrack, Amsterdam/Netherlands
- Both Ends, Amsterdam/Netherlands
- BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), Berlin/Germany
- Center for Human Rights and Environment (CEDHA), Argentina
- CRBM – Campaign for the Reform of the World Bank
- East-West Diwan, Köln/Germany
- ECA Watch Global
- EcoDoc Africa, South Africa
- Fairfin, Brussels/Belgium
- 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
- Insurrección Autónoma, Honduras
- International Accountability Project, San Francisco/USA,
- Les Amis de la Terre (Friends of the Earth France)
- NABU – Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, Berlin/
- Observatori del Deute en la Globalització (ODG – Debtwatch Spain), Barcelona/Spain
- OFRANEH – Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, Honduras
- Setem, Madrid/Spain
- Urgewald, Berlin/Germany
- Ver.di, Germany
- Water and Energy Users’ Federation-Nepal (WAFED)
- Allianoi Initiative Group, Izmir/Turkey
- Cilo Nature Association, Hakkari/Turkey
- Initiative to Conserve Culture, Cizre/Turkey
- Munzur Nature Activists, Dersim/Turkey
- Pasur Association for Conservation of Natural Life, Diyarbakir/Turkey
- Alpine Club, Teheran/Iran
- Fars Green Center, Iran
- Green Mountain, Iran
- Women Society Against Environmental Pollution, Iran
- Democracy and Human Rights Development Organization – DHDO, Iraq-KRG
- Green Kurdistan Association – GKA, Iraq-KRG
- Kurdistan Save Children – KSC, Iraq-KRG
- Kurdistn Inernational Youths Organization – KIYO, Iraq-KRG
- Women Talent Development Organization, Iraq-KRG
- Youth Activity Organization- YAO, Iraq-KRG