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The Ilisu Dam Campaign was set up by the Human Rights Project

KURDISH HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECT (Press Release)

Press Release For Immediate Release: 13 November 2001.

Balfour Beatty withdraws support for the Ilisu Dam project.

Following vehement campaigns from environmentalists and human rights groups, Balfour Beatty has today announced its withdrawal from the Ilisu Dam project.

The proposed Dam was set to destroy the town of Hasankeyf in Southeast Turkey, an area of significant cultural heritage, leaving 78,000 local residents homeless. Many believed the Dam was part of the Turkish government's wider plan to ethnically cleanse the area of its Kurdish population. Those involved in the Ilisu Dam Campaign (KHRP, Cornerhouse, Friends of the Earth and Mark Thomas), also condemned the Dam for its disastrous environmental implications.

KHRP hopes the sustained campaign against the Ilisu Dam has sent a strong message to British companies and the government about the ethics of export credit guarantee dealings with regimes that have as appalling a human rights record as Turkey. Executive Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project and Chairman of the Ilisu Dam Campaign, Kerim Yildiz, expressed his delight at the news:

"There have always been very strong human rights and environmental grounds why this project should not go ahead. Following Balfour Beatty's decision we now call on the UK government to confirm that it will not back the controversial Ilisu Dam."



FRIENDS OF THE EARTH (Press Release)

Immediate Release: Tuesday 13th November 2001.

DAM DAMNED! CAMPAIGNERS CELEBRATE ILISU DAM CAMPAIGN VICTORY.

Campaigners responded with delight today to the news that Balfour Beatty have pulled out of involvement in the environmentally, politically and socially disastrous Ilisu Dam. The Dam was planned for the Kurdish region of Turkey. It would make more than 30,000 local people homeless, often without proper compensation. It would drown dozens of towns and villages including the world historic site of Hasankeyf. And it would help control water flows on the Tigris river, threatening water conflicts with downstream states Syria and Iraq. The League of Arab States has condemned the project. The Dam was to be built by an international Swiss-led consortium. Balfour Beatty were seeking $200 million in export credit guarantees from the British Government. Italian builder Impregilo has also withdrawn from the consortium.

Commenting, FOE Director Charles Secrett said: "This is a tremendous win for campaigners against a disastrous dam project. Balfour Beatty's very welcome decision to drop out of the project shows the power of shareholder pressure and publicity campaigns by groups like Friends of the Earth and the Ilisu Dam Campaign. However, the Government has managed to avoid ever taking a clear decision on this scheme. That means that companies seeking future export credits can argue that no clear ethical precedent has been set. Balfour Beatty have helped Mr Blair slip off the hook. The story of the Ilisu Dam project shows the need for laws which require British companies to adopt clear ethical and environmental standards in their work abroad as well as at home. Certainly, backing such as export credits should never even be considered in cases which involve such obvious environmental destruction and abuse of human rights."



BALFOUR BEATTY'S PRESS RELEASE BALFOUR BEATTY WITHDRAWS FROM ILISU DAM PROJECT.

13th November 2001.

NO CLEAR PROSPECT OF RESOLUTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL, COMMERCIAL AND SOCIAL COMPLEXITIES.

Balfour Beatty, the international engineering, construction and services group, announces today that it has decided not to pursue its interest in the Ilisu Dam project in Turkey. The decision follows a thorough and extensive evaluation of the commercial, environmental and social issues inherent in the project. With appropriate solutions to these issues still unsecured and no early resolution likely, Balfour Beatty believes that it is not in the best interests of its stakeholders to pursue the project further.

Commenting on the decision, Balfour Beatty Chief Executive Mike Welton said: “Our determination to consider this project in a thorough and professional manner has remained consistent since we were first invited to become involved. We have followed all the appropriate steps to evaluate its viability and have not been deflected from proper, professional processes."

"The urgent need for increasing generating capacity to meet Turkey’s development needs and for social and economic development in the region remains. We have, however, clearly reached a point where no further action nor any further expenditure by Balfour Beatty on this project is likely to resolve the outstanding issues in a reasonable timescale”.

The complex environmental and social issues which the project involves have been the subject of intensive study. A comprehensive environmental impact report, funded by the contractors and involving many months of intensive investigative work, was completed and published earlier this year. This study was carried out by a team of international experts to the best available international standards as defined by the US Ex-Im Bank and the OECD.

The report details the principal social and environmental issues associated with the dam’s development and construction and offers recommendations to the dam’s proponents, the Turkish General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works (DSI). Its recommendations set clear benchmarks which require substantial actions on the part of the customer and other Turkish government departments and agencies.

Commercial discussions between the DSI and the consortium of which Balfour Beatty is a part have also been under way for a considerable period. The parties have, however, been unable to agree in some areas and a number of commercial issues remain unresolved.

Given the substantial difficulties which remain to be addressed, including meeting the four conditions set by the Export Credit Agencies, Balfour Beatty believes the project could only proceed with substantial extra work and expense and with considerable further delay. Accordingly, in concert with its international partner in the civil engineering joint venture, Impregilo of Italy, it has decided to withdraw from the project.



FIRM'S WITHDRAWAL FROM DAM PROJECT WELCOMED
By Amanda Brown, Environment Correspondent, PA.

Green campaigners were today celebrating the decision of a development company to pull out of a dam scheme in the Kurdish region of Turkey.

Friends of the Earth said it was delighted by the withdrawal of Balfour Beatty from the Ilisu dam project, which the campaign group said was ``environmentally, politically and socially disastrous''. Mike Welton, chief executive of Balfour Beatty, said the company's determination to consider the project in a thorough and professional manner had remained consistent since it was first invited to become involved.

He added: "We have followed all the appropriate steps to evaluate its viability and have not been deflected from proper, professional processes.
The urgent need for increasing generating capacity to meet Turkey's development needs and for social and economic development in the region remains.
We have, however, clearly reached a point where no further action nor any further expenditure by Balfour Beatty on this project is likely to resolve the outstanding issues in a reasonable timescale."

FoE director Charles Secrett said the move was a tremendous win for campaigners against a disastrous dam project. The decision by Balfour Beatty showed the power of shareholder pressure and publicity campaigns by groups like Friends of the Earth and the Ilisu Dam Campaign, he said.

He added: "However the Government has managed to avoid ever taking a clear decision on this scheme.
That means that companies seeking future export credits can argue that no clear ethical precedent has been set. Balfour Beatty have helped Mr Blair slip off the hook.
The story of the Ilisu Dam project shows the need for laws which require British companies to adopt clear ethical and environmental standards in their work abroad as well as at home.
Certainly, backing such as export credits should never even be considered in cases which involve such obvious environmental destruction and abuse of human rights."

Friends of the Earth said the Dam was planned for the Kurdish region of Turkey and would make more than 30,000 local people homeless, often without proper compensation. It would drown dozens of towns and villages including the world historic site of Hasankeyf. And it would help control water flows on the Tigris river, threatening water conflicts with downstream states Syria and Iraq. The League of Arab States has condemned the project. The dam was to be built by an international Swiss-led consortium. Italian builder Impreglio has also withdrawn from the consortium.

Labour MP Ann Clwyd who played a leading role in the campaign against the dam project welcomed news that Balfour Beatty had pulled out.
She said: "I hope the British Government will now withdraw from its consideration of support for the project and that it will make the announcement this week. Up to 70,000 Kurds would be affected by the proposals, local culture would be lost, hundreds of archaeological sites would be drowned and the neighbouring countries of Syria and Iraq have not been consulted about its effect on them. The International Development Select Committee, along with three other select committees of MPs have all recommended the Government withdraw from the project.
The Ilisu Dam is bad for human rights, bad for the environment, bad for regional peace and bad for Britain. ``The Government should make its views clear that there can be no British backing for such a controversial project."



CHANNEL 4 NEWS - SPECIAL REPORTS.
Broadcast: November 13, 2001.
Reporter: Jonathan Rugman.

The controversial Ilisu dam project in Turkey is not going ahead - at least for the time being.

The British civil engineering firm Balfour Beatty has pulled out of the consortium which holds the contract to build the hydro-electric dam, citing "environmental, commercial and social complexities."

And how. The proposed site - in the heart of Turkey's Kurdish war zone in the South East of the country - lies mere 40-miles from its borders with Syria and Iraq. The dam would have submerged several villages.

Two years ago, our correspondent Jonathan Rugman was the first journalist to reach the site. This is his report:

Its long been the dream of Turkish engineers to dam the river Tigris near the village of Ilisu. Not only would local Kurds here been forced to leave their homes, but 42 other villages would have been emptied along with the stunning town of Hasankeyf, leaving only the top of a minaret above water.

Turkish archaeologists have been racing to rescue what they could and when we visited the town two years ago the townspeople told us they were bitterly opposed.

Today the construction firm Balfour Beatty bowed to such concerns. Its own environmental impact assessment concluded that nearly 60,000 people would be affected by the dam and admitted that local consultation was at a very basic stage. In a statement the company explained why its pulling out: "The decision follows a thorough and extensive valuation of the commercial, environmental and social issues....with appropriate solutions to these issues still unsecured and no early resolution likely, Balfour Beatty believes that it is not in the best interest of its stakeholders to pursue the project further."

Balfour Beatty wouldn't talk on camera - it's been turning down our requests for more than two years - but a spokesman told us that it and its Italian partner had dropped out because environmental complexities had made the project too expensive and that there'd been no progress on signing a contract with the Turks.

Tonight a Turkish source close to the negotiations in Ankara gave us a slightly different version of events: "Balfour Beatty was fed up with the uproar in Britain, it was tired of it. Maybe they could see that Turkey is in economic crisis and can't fulfil its promise to pay for the resettlement of displaced people. Other European firms won't be interested now and the Ilisu project may not go ahead."

The so-called uproar in Britain included protests secretly filmed inside this year's Balfour Beatty annual general meeting.

The pressure group Friends of the Earth bought the company's shares, sold them for a thirteen thousand pound profit, and then used the money to fund its campaign against the company.



THE WORLD ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONGRESS.
Press Statement 14 November 2001.

Withdrawal of Support for Ilisu Dam Project.

The World Archaeological Congress (WAC) welcomes the withdrawal of Balfour Beatty and Impreglio from the Ilisu dam project and ECGD's subsequent confirmation of UK government withdrawal. In its displacement of up to 78,000 mostly Kurdish people and its destruction of their cultural heritage, the Ilisu dam would have amounted to a form of ethnic cleansing in which governments and companies would have been complicit.

This is a significant victory for the campaigns against this dam project, including campaigns by the World Archaeological Congress, other national and international heritage organisations, archaeological branches of trade unions and hundreds of individual archaeologists.

These campaigns have repeatedly shown that the fourth condition set by the export credit agencies to 'save as much of the archaeological heritage of Hasankeyf as possible' was not being met. WAC has consistently pointed out that no amount of time or money could ensure that this condition would be met given wider economic, social and political circumstances in the region. Any expectation that it could be otherwise in a situation of gross human rights violations including repression of Kurdish people's language, cultural forms and history under a state of emergency was unrealistic. In any case, the condition itself was utterly inadequate given the extent of cultural heritage that would be inundated by the reservoir as a whole. Balfour Beatty's statement is testimony to the fact that the wider conditions prevailing in the region and in Turkey generally have not been and cannot be resolved by the GAP project. However, WAC does not consider this statement to be sufficient as a response to the questions raised by Ilisu and the GAP project as a whole.

We urge governments considering involvement with other such projects in Turkey to come out in the open regarding their stance on the human rights, including cultural rights, of affected people. WAC also welcomes Balfour Beatty's statement regarding the need for a thorough and professional approach. WAC would wish to make it clear that these professional processes, for archaeologists, do not begin with salvage excavations and budgets for them. Rather, the priority must be full and fair consultation to establish the economic, cultural and social rights of all the women, children and men affected by such projects. They must be the ones to decide the basis on which their heritage and cultural forms may or may not be used, moved or studied. In situations where that cannot occur - and Southeast Turkey is a clear example of this - there are cultural heritage grounds for halting a dam project.

Professor Martin Hall President, World Archaeological Congress.

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