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Allianoi is our business

HDN | 9/3/2010 12:00:00 AM | GİLA BENMAYOR

Veysel Eroğlu is awfully mistaken pointing the finger at Tarkan on Allianoi because we are living in a world where artists are speaking loudly on important social events.

I was in the ancient city of Sagalassos, Burdur, for the opening of the “Antonines Fountain” last weekend.

This magnificent fountain was brought to the light of day through the sponsorship of Aygaz Co. of Koç Holding.

Water came to the foundation exactly 1,800 years after it first sprang.

Ironically though, in the same days, the ancient Roman health center of Allianoi in Bergama today now looks set to be inundated because of the Yortanlı Dam.

People fighting to rescue Allianoi have been sending SOS signals for years and have organized protests in front of the Culture Ministry.

I wrote a piece, “As Sagalassos smiles, Allianoi cries,” in order to help protesters to be heard.

Efforts were made to bring an ancient city back to life. Yet another was left under water.

Renowned pop singer Tarkan who raised his voice to prevent Hasankeyf from a dam’s water claimed Allianoi, too. With his action all eyes turned to this Roman Spa.

If Environment Minister Veysel Eroğlu had not been offended by Tarkan’s move and said: “Our singer friend should rather be mind his job. Don’t let him to poke his nose into everything. Everyone should mind his/her business,” Allianoi wouldn’t have been on the agenda.

[HH] Angrier than Hasankeyf

Apparently though, Eroğlu, who never stepped back on the issue of Hasankeyf, is already angry at Tarkan for his efforts in the Hasankeyf rescue campaign.

As Allianoi is added on top, the minister is angrier now.

However, many, artists in particular, are offended by Eroğlu’s remark “Our singer friend should rather be mind his job. If I stop working for the dam and start singing, this will be a whole lot different story.”

As the minister asks Tarkan not to poke his nose into the ministry’s business, he is awfully mistaken because we are living in a world where artists speak louder for issues from environment to human rights.

Look at Bono, who is coming to Turkey for a concert soon. Look at Bob Geldof and Isabelle Adjani.

Look at Indian author Arundhati Roy who won the prestigious Booker Reward in Britain with her novel titled “The God of Small Things.”

Although she is an author Roy poked her noise into a “dam issue” just like Tarkan did in Turkey.

Roy led to a civilian campaign against a dam being built on the Narmada River in India.

[HH] The Roy example

Roy donated all the money she won from the Booker Reward to the Narmada campaign.

She visited the region many times in order to support people living in the Narmada Valley.

Roy used her influence for the campaign.

Perhaps her fight did not create much of a difference but helped the Narmada campaign to be heard around the world.

It set an example for similar campaigns.

So, Eroğlu’s words “Everyone should mind her/his business” are not valid anymore.

Such remarks find no audience in democracies.

Ruining environment with hydro-electric dams or leaving our cultural heritage under water… All is our business, and of artists, too.

[HH] The next generations will ask

There is the other side of the coin in the Allianoi incident.

There were over 40 civilizations in Turkey and there were more than 3,000 ancient cities, 20,000 mounds and 25,000 burial mounds.

Turkey is a heaven on earth for archaeologists.

For this reason, the State Water Works, or DSİ, or Environment Ministry has to work together in coordination with all culture departments starting with the Culture Ministry as they decide to build dams.

Likewise, the Culture Ministry should determine how such a rich cultural heritage is to be managed.

Otherwise, the discussions of yesterday on Hasankeyf and of today on Allianoi will continue to harm our cultural heritage.

As next generations ask, “Why didn’t you protect our cultural heritage,” I wonder how we will answer…

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