Spokeswoman for the Mesopotamia Ecology Movement Derya Akyol has voiced strong criticism of Turkey’s hydroelectric projects in Kurdish regions of the country, calling them part of a special war policy of the Turkish state which targets the Kurdish natural and cultural heritage.
Akyol pointed out that the Silvan Dam, under the Southeast Anatolia Project (GAP), is set to submerge 50 villages and the ecologically rich Godernê Valley (Geliyê Godernê).
Even before its completion the ongoing construction of the Silvan Dam has resulted in significant tree felling and damage from dynamite explosions to historical sites in the Godernê Valley. Akyol pointed out that the decisions of the GAP inevitably lead to widespread destruction, and this includes those around the construction of the Silvan Dam. The projects in the Kurdish regions are driven, beyond mere profit, by security motives, resulting in planning around regional depopulation and the erasure of collective memory.
Akyol also highlighted the broader implications of the control of energy and water resources. “We know that the current hydroelectric projects are unable to produce as much energy as older projects. Their primary goal, is not to address energy needs, but to open up profitable avenues for capital,” she said. She criticised the system’s approach to environmental destruction and the challenges in obtaining information about these projects.
Regarding the Silvan Dam, Akyol described it as a security dam within the Southeast Anatolia Project, which has resulted in the displacement of 50 villages and ecological devastation. She compared it to the Turkish army’s evacuations of Kurdish villages in the 1990s, viewing it as part of the special war policies aimed at eradicating Kurdish language, culture and memory. The shift from rural to urban life due to these projects generally is expected to bring negative sociological, cultural and psychological impacts, disrupting the communal life intrinsic to the Kurdish regions.