Hasankeyf locals prepare to move amid impending flooding
BATMAN – DHA
Inhabitants of Hasankeyf, a historic town that is due to be completely submerged by the floodwaters of the Ilısu Dam, which is under construction in the southeastern province of Batman, are preparing to move away from the area.
Locals have already started to move to completely new settlements built nearby by the Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ).
TOKİ started the construction of 710 houses two years ago, at an estimated cost of 164 million Turkish Liras, and the construction is due to be finished soon.
Each of the new homes is 180 square meters and the final ones are due to be delivered to their new owners at the beginning of June.
In the new settlement, the construction of the Hasankeyf Vocational School, a modern library, a mosque, a business center and a district organization have all been completed.
The new site of the 650-year-old Zeynel Bey Tomb, which hit headlines during its transportation a few years ago, is also being reinforced.
The tile motifs of the tomb were removed by treasure hunters years ago and the tomb is now under official protection. After it was moved to its new sit on the banks of the River Tigris, the pedestal stones and tiles of the tomb were renewed, while new buildings similar to the old inns and accommodation facilities in its old space have been constructed around the tomb.
The minaret of the El-Rızk Mosque, the Imam Abdullah Zaviye (a small Islamic monastery), and a Seljuk-era bath on the banks of the Tigris River are among the structures due to be moved to a “Culture Island” this year.
The Yolgeçen Inn on the banks of the Tigris is being filled in and closed up ahead of the impending flooding. The historic inn, which is known for being cool in the summer and warm in the winter, has hosted thousands of people over the past 30 years including ministers, officials, governors and foreign guests.
The inn, which the Hasankeyf District Governor’s Office started renting out for 15,000 liras per month nearly 15 years ago, was the one and only inn used by locals to cross the Tigris after the demolition of a historic bridge 100 years ago.
A local tailor in Hasankeyf, Fahri Memiş, said they would soon be moving around 1.5 kilometers from the historical district and are pleased to be changing.
“We will move to bigger and more modern houses. We will have places in new business centers. We will have a new life there,” he said.
Emin Turhan, 68, a retired municipality worker, was less enthusiastic about the move.
“We have lived under the shadow of history for years. We spent our childhood, youth and whole life here, inside history. It will be hard for us to move to the new settlement. We will leave Hasankeyf with sadness,” Turhan said.
Today, many visitors are flocking to Hasankeyf to see the historical town before it is finally flooded, as has been anticipated for many years.
To welcome these last guests, some locals are operating facilities along the banks of the Tigris.
“We are trying to welcome our last guests in the best possible way,” one said.