Archives – October, 2012

Petition to Save World Heritage on the Tigris River in Mesopotamia

There is only need for 16921 more signatures to make UNICCO regard the bellow petition, as it is mentioned in the petition itself, as a credible global request putting the matter on its executive agenda. As a result, the international pressure on Turkey will be even more forcing its government to cease to construct their lethal dam on the Ilissos. Therefore, please sign it and send the link to your friends.

 

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.

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