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"Support for Ilisu could breach human rights act," say campaigners.

The Ilisu Dam Campaign and seven other UK and international groups have today (Tuesday 2/10) released a 200-page response to the environmental impact report (EIAR) on the proposed Ilisu Dam in Turkey (1).

UK campaigners have also been advised that UK support for the Ilisu project could be in violation of the Human Rights Act.

The campaigners' report is a devastating critique of the proposed dam and the EIAR, and reveals:
- that dam planners do not yet know exactly how many people will be affected and have not said where and how they will be resettled; previous official estimates put the number of those affected at 78,000 people, the majority of them Kurds;
- that on resettlement issues alone, the dam would break 15 international guidelines on 75 counts;
- even with proposed water treatment plants, there is still a high risk that the dam will lead to the poisoning of the Tigris River, risking the health of the local population;
- that independent analysis of the EIAR's own figures reveal that the dam threatens to cut off downstream water flows to Syria and Iraq in periods of drought;
- and that each of the UK government's five self-imposed conditions for supporting the dam have still to be met (2).

The government will decide whether to support the dam with $200m of export credit guarantees within the next month. Its decision will be based on the EIAR, on public comments and expert advice.

UK campaigners have strong reason to believe that UK support for the Ilisu project would be in violation of the Human Rights Act, as it would bring about human rights violations in Turkey.

"With the publication of our report, we are issuing a challenge to the government - drop this project now or we believe there will be strong grounds for a legal challenge," said Kurdish Human Rights Project Director Kerim Yildiz.

"The environmental report, on which the government will base its decision, is so bad as to be embarrassing," said Nicholas Hildyard of the Ilisu Dam Campaign. "It is contradictory, incomplete, partial and in many places wildly inaccurate. In some areas - especially those that touch on the security situation in the Ilisu region - we question whether the report has been censored by Turkish authorities," he said.

"On the basis of this EIA, the UK government cannot - morally or legally - support this dam," he said.

The campaigners' submission to five of the governments considering support for Ilisu, including the UK, US, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, covers the resettlement, cultural heritage, hydrological, and water quality impacts of the dam; and a
critique of the environmental report's analysis of alternatives to the dam. The submission also includes a plea from Southeast Turkey's Diyarbakir Bar Association to reject the dam.

The EIAR was published only in English - and was therefore inaccessible to the vast majority of affected people.


1. The groups submitting the report include: Ilisu Dam Campaign (UK), Corner House Research (UK), the Kurdish Human Rights Project (UK), Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), Berne Declaration (Switzerland), Campaign An Eye on SACE (Italy), Pacific Environment (US) and World Economy Ecology and Development (Germany).
2. The government's five conditions include:
- Draw up a resettlement programme which reflects internationally
accepted practice and includes independent monitoring;
- Make provision for upstream water treatment plants capable of
ensuring that water quality is maintained;
- Give an assurance that adequate downstream water flows will be
maintained at all times;
- Produce a detailed plan to preserve as much of the archaeological
heritage of Hasankeyf as possible;
- A published assurance that the required consultation of
neighbouring States has been carried out by the Turkish authorities.

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