Mapuche activist to organize Amerindian ritual in Hasankeyf against dam construction
ISTANBUL - Radikal
Moira Millan wants to organize a traditional ritual by the Tigris river in Hasankeyf.The picturesque Hasankeyf town on the shores of the Tigris still faces being submerged underwater with a planned dam project, which is set to go ahead next year. However, an unexpected helper from a distant land - the southern Patagonia region of Argentina - is preparing to come and plead to ancient Amerindian Gods to lend a moral boost to the UNESCO World Heritage location.
Moira Millan, a Mapuche tribe leader who doubles as an environmental activist, is planning to visit Hasankeyf and organize a traditional ritual by the river, delivering a prayer which she hopes will raise awareness to prevent town's doomed fate. Ahead of her departure to the Tigris valley, Millan warned the authorities that any attempt to disrupt her ritual would be tantamount to "raiding a worship place."
"Us Mapuches don't have any temple. In fact, the whole world is our temple. We tell the Argentine government that too. So if we are going to organize a ritual by the river, and the government tries to stop it, this is the same as destroying a synagogue or a mosque," Millan, currently in Istanbul to attend the "World Large Rivers Conference," told Radikal in an article published May 18.
She said the planned dam would cause irreversible damage to the river. "When a resource disappears from nature, it also disappears from our culture as well. So silencing rivers also means silencing cultures," she said
'Kurds and Mapuches have similar histories'
Millan said the Argentine authorities had branded her a "terrorist against development" because of her opposition to dams and other infrastructure projects that would dangerously threaten the environment. With her efforts, the six hydroelectric power plant project on the Corcovado river that would leave houses under 70 meters of water has been on stand-by since 2005.
"I am probably the Mapuche who has been sued the most," Millan said. "We have live in the same land for 12,000 years so we know about defending ourselves. Although we don't have any weapons, we know what to eat and what to drink. Even if you hire the world's best attorneys, you cannot survive in a fight without nature's forces."
According to Millan, the history of the Mapuches is very similar to that of the Kurds. "We came to show our solidarity and give them our support in their fight. Don't let them destroy the Tigris!" she said.