HASANKEYF`S LAST SUMMER
Hasankeyf is an 8000-year old village in Southeastern Turkey. It is believed to be one of mankind's earliest settlements, and the only place on earth to fulfil 9 out of 10 criteria for being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
For over 50 years there have been plans to construct what would be one of Turkey’s largest dam projects on the Tigris, near the small village of Ilisu, about 120 kilometres downstream of Hasankeyf. Indeed, plans for a dam at Ilisu can be traced as far back as to the 1930s, under the rule of Atatürk. However, it was not until 2016 – and despite the withdrawal of European partners in 2009 – that construction was completed.
Part of the GAP project – a sustainable development scheme designed to support the 9 million people living in Turkey’s poor Southeastern provinces – the dam is one of hundreds of agriculture, infrastructure, education and health projects aimed at reviving an area which, over recent decades, has witnessed fighting between the Turkish government and Kurdish PKK militias.
For the people of Hasenkeyf, however, the dam brings anything but revival. By March 2020, Hasankeyf and about 400 other smaller settlements will be submerged beneath the waters of the Ilisu reservoir.
Since 2009, I have been visiting the region to document the village of Hasankeyf as it loses itself, bit by bit, to the ensuing floods.