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Environmentalists issue call to banks

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News | 1/26/2010 12:00:00 AM |

Doğa Derneği, an environmental organization, held a protest Tuesday in front of Garanti Bank headquarters in Istanbul to protest the Ilısu Dam project in the Southeast.

An environmental organization held a protest in front of Garanti Bank headquarters in Istanbul on Tuesday to protest possible financial support by Garanti and Akbank banks for the Ilısu Dam project.

During the rally to protect Hasankeyf, an ancient town in Southeast Anatolia in danger of being flooded by dam construction, members of the Doğa Derneği, or Nature Association, said state-owned Halkbank might also provide loans for the project. The total amount of the three banks’ loans may be worth 340 million euros, they said.

The protest was part of a nationwide campaign to save the settlement launched Monday.

“Hasankeyf, a part of world heritage, is at risk of disappearing underwater because of the Ilısu Dam project,” association President Güven Eken said. “European banks have already withdrawn their financial support but Garanti and Akbank are still supporting the project. Loan support from Garanti, known for its respect to nature and the environment, is unacceptable.”

Speaking at the demonstration, Hasankeyf resident Rüstem Ayhan said, “We always want the Tigris to flow. We know very well that it is impossible to save Hasankeyf by relocation. Instead of such loan support, which will destroy Hasankeyf and the Tigris Valley, we ask the banks to give their support to make the area a UNESCO World Heritage site,” Ayhan said. 

The association also sent a letter to Ferit Şahenk, board chairman of Garanti, asking once again that the bank withdraw its support for the dam project.

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