Nature and culture of Dersim in danger
DERSİM (DİHA) - The Dersim area, which has been declared a national park because of its natural beauty and endemic species, is now being destroyed through the construction of military posts and security dams.
The head of the Association for Protecting the Natural Life of Munzur, Haydar Çetinkaya, says the intention is to destroy Dersim’s natural environment through the construction of dozens of military posts and security dams that are planned in the Munzur, Pülümür, Mercan and Peri valleys. “The Dersim area has been encircled and completely isolated by the state policies of emptying villages, constructing military posts, special control points, and dams and hydroelectric plants in a way that violates all national and international regulations”, says Çetinkaya.
He continued, saying that the Karasu-Murat rivers and Peri river had previously been the natural borders of Dersim, but first the Dersim-Elazığ border had been destroyed by the construction of the Keban Dam built in the 70’s, and later the entire region had been encircled by more than 10 hydroelectric dams constructed within the last 15 years. Çetinkaya stressed that the dams built on the Peri river had destroyed endemic species and nature, adding that the Dersim area has been deliberately subjected to policies of plunder and colonialist destruction. “Peri (fairy), a name from tales, does not exist anymore”, said Çetinkaya and added that the project for the construction of 5 security dams on the Peri had been completed by the recent construction of the Pembelik dam. He said that Peri, which flowed with a melody that could be heard from miles away, is now deadly silent as all of its water is collected in the dams. He says that 5 dams built one after the other look like stairs following each other starting from the Seyitlik bridge, calling these dams “dams of betrayal of nature”.
Çetinkaya drew attention to the construction of military posts after the construction of each dam, adding that the dams are built following each other so that the reservoir of one ends where the walls of the other start. He said that after the construction of the Pembelik dam, the dams of Özlüce and Kığı are being planned to be built one after the other. Çetinkaya stresses that there is no natural flow of water even for 1 meter in the valley.
He added that many villages have been left under water by the construction of dams and emptied, the land has been confiscated for a very cheap price, the graves have been carried to other places, leaving all the cultural and natural heritage of the entire region under water. Çetinkaya said that 4 or 5 military posts and security control points have been built around each dam, accompanied by gun men and security forces, and encircled by electric fences. He said that going from one place to another in the region is like crossing into another country as there are check points and control bridges everywhere.
Çetinkaya further emphasised that those people opposing the construction of dams and the natural destruction caused are trapped between state violence and judicial processes, adding that the judges have never heard the voice of the people and investigated to see if the dams are being constructed within the framework of the regulations or in violation of them. He said that the democratic protests of the people have always met violence from the gendarme, police and the private security forces of the companies. People were detained and arrested for protesting against the dams, he added.
Also stressing that state violence had been directed against those who filed complaints about the dams as their construction violated legal regulations, Çetinkaya said: “Trials have dragged on, the decisions of the courts to stop the illegal implementations have been not implemented.” He added that the judicial decisions often followed the completion of the dams. Çetinkaya said all these policies were deliberately implemented by the government.
Çetinkaya further drew attention to how difficult it is to struggle against the construction of the dams in an area encircled by military posts and security points full of security forces, but added that still the struggle to protect Peri was weak and therefore lost.
The head of the Association for Protecting the Natural Life of Munzur said that it is not only in Dersim but in the four other provinces having borders with Dersim that dams are being constructed and hundreds of mines excavated. He said that dozens of dams were constructed in all the valleys which formed the natural borders between Dersim-Erzincan, Dersim-Elazığ and Dersim-Bingöl.
Çetinkaya said after Dersim had been encircled with dams, dams were now being built in the internal parts of the region and dozens of mines were being opened. He stressed that there were new plans to build dams and hydroelectric plants in the Munzur, Pülümür, Tağar and Hozat valleys, as well as opening gold mines in Cevizlidere, Sin and Mamlis in addition to hundreds of mines in the entire Dersim region.