President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan speaks during a collective opening ceremony for 99 dams and hydroelectric power plants built by the private and public sectors on Jan. 14, 2016. AA Photo
It is only the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK) and anti-national academics who are opposing the construction of new dams and hydroelectric power plants (HES), according to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“A group that call themselves academics has emerged and spewed hatred against their state and nation by publicly taking sides with the terror organization [PKK]. My brothers, do you know who, which group, is the biggest enemy of these dams? It is the separatist terror organization and politicians and academics who support it,” Erdoğan said Jan. 14, while attending a collective opening ceremony for 99 dams and hydroelectric power plants built by the private and public sectors.
Earlier in the week, 1,128 academics from 89 different universities – including foreign scholars like Noam Chomsky, David Harvey and Immanuel Wallerstein – signed a declaration titled “We won’t be a part of this crime,” which called on Ankara
to end the “massacre and slaughter.”
Erdoğan’s address at the opening ceremony came a day after PKK
militants attacked a police station in the predominantly Kurdish-populated southeastern province of Diyarbakır
on Jan. 13 with a truck bomb, killing six people including a baby and two toddlers, in one of the biggest strikes since the conflict reignited in July.
“Now you see these 99 dams, these dams are here, there and anywhere in my country. But this separatist terror organization and their representatives in politics don’t want the dams to be built, especially in the southeast,” the president said, in an apparent reference to the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which focuses on the Kurdish issue and is frequently accused by Erdoğan of having organic links with the PKK.
“I know what I have suffered concerning that Ilısu Dam, and my minister and his contractors know about it. They have done everything. But, despite them, we are building the Ilısu Dam, we will build it and we will complete it. They destroy and we build, that’s the difference between them and us,” Erdoğan said, referring to a dam in the southeastern province of Batman which has been the subject of controversy since 2006 when its foundation stone was placed.
Eighty percent of the ancient, 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf, located on the banks of the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey, featuring Neolithic caves, Roman ruins and medieval monuments, will be flooded due to the dam.
Due to the highly impactful nature of the dam, European creditors pulled their investment support for the dam in 2008, postponing its construction for two years.
Set to become Turkey’s fourth HES if completed, the dam is part of the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), which allegedly aims to create sustainable development for people living in Turkey’s southeast through the construction of dams and hydroelectric plants.
“In regards to HESs I know what these so-called academics do to avert these affairs. Greenpeace activists here and there always come together and they try to block it. We love ‘green’ much more than those who have ‘green’ in their names. Their name is ‘Greenpeace.’ Ours is ‘green’ in the strict sense. These dams bring different beauty to the environment,” he said.