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Kurdish Human Rights Project Urges Moratorium on Dam Projects in Turkey's Munzur Valley.

The Kurdish Human Rights Project has issued the report of its fact-finding mission into a series of controversial dams planned for the Munzur Valley in the Kurdish regions of Southeast Turkey.

The report focuses on the dam projects planned for the Munzur Valley National Park. KHRP finds no economic or energy-related justification for the projects which would offset their disastrous human rights and environmental impacts.

The Munzur Valley is Turkey's first and foremost national park. A series of 8 dams and Hydro-Electric Power Plants (HEPPs) is scheduled for construction. The dams are part of the widely criticised series of massive dam projects in the Kurdish regions known as GAP, or the Southeastern Anatolia Project [1].

The centrepieces of the Munzur projects, the Konaktepe Dam and HEPP, are to be built by a consortium of companies led by US engineering firm Stone and Webster. Other companies include the Austrian firms VA Tech Hydro and Strabag and the Turkish firm Soyak and ATA [2]. It is expected that if the Munzur projects go ahead, public funding for them will be sought through export credit agency support from several Western countries [3].

The estimated cost of the projects is over $2 billion; yet the projected energy output for all 8 projects is less than 1 per cent of Turkey's gross annual production, 362 MW.

The World Wildlife Fund has called for additional protection for the area's unique ecosystem which would be destroyed by the projects. The projects would make the valley uninhabitable for up to 40,000 local people and violate domestic law.

KHRP's report 'This is the Only Valley Where We Live: The Impact of the Munzur Dams' highlights Turkey's history of pursuing a policy of displacement towards the Kurds, and the role played by the GAP dams. KHRP recommends a permanent moratorium on the construction of any major dam or infrastructure projects in the Munzur valley until an independent analysis indicates that the social and environmental benefits to local people outweigh the damage and costs. It also urges funders and companies involved to reconsider their positions.

Kerim Yildiz, Executive Director of KHRP, says, "The Munzur Valley is one of Turkey's national treasures. It is unthinkable that a project for which there is no economic justification and from which local people will only suffer can go ahead under any circumstances. A permanent moratorium on dam construction is the only way to safeguard Munzur, and we call on all potential funders or construction companies to implement one."

Notes for Editors:

[1] For more on the human rights and environmental impacts of the GAP dams, of which the best-known is the Ilisu Dam, see the series of KHRP and Ilisu Dam Campaign reports, including The Ilisu Dam: A Human Rights Disaster in the Making, (London, November 1999); If the River Were a Pen: The Ilisu Dam, the World Commission on Dams and Export Credit Reform, (London, October 2000); The Ilisu Dam: Displacement of Communities and Destruction of Culture, (London, October 2002),

[2] Turkish sources have recently reported that ATA have dropped out of the Munzur projects due to disagreements with the Turkish state. ATA's withdrawal has not been officially confirmed by the company at this time.

[3] National export credit agencies from whom support would in all likelihood be sought include the US Ex-Im, who may be in line to finance the entire project through a prior agreement, the Austrian OeKB, the German Hermes, the Swiss ERG and the French COFACE.

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