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Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2000 15:50:53 GMT
From: Jo Makepeace (
Subject: SchNEWS 244, Friday 21st January 2000


Balfour Beatty involved in Ilisu Dam project

"The prime minister is backing a project that would be a disaster for the environment, a tragedy for local people, and a threat to peace."
- Tony Juniper, Friends of the Earth

SchNEWS ain't having a Turkish ** but the planned Ilisu Dam, in South-East Turkey could well be "the biggest corruption scandal in western Europe".
(George Monbiot)

The hydro-electric dam will flood 52 Kurdish villages and 15 towns. One of these is Hasankeyef, one of the most ancient settlements in the world. It is the only town in the region to survive the middle ages, protected so tightly by planning laws that hotels are not even allowed to be built for the hoards of visiting tourists. The Kurds regard this city as their cultural heartland and see this project as a political tool to continue to ethnically cleanse them from Turkey. One angry Kurd commented "By destroying Hasankeyf, they hope to eliminate our history".

About 16,000 Kurds are expected to lose their homes and land without compensation, and another 20,000 will have their lives disrupted. At least 19 Kurdish villages in the reservoir area have already been cleared at gunpoint and then burnt. Disagreeing with the dam's construction has been outlawed. Surprise, surprise, there is no resettlement package for the dispossessed.

There is also the added fear that Turkey will have the means to cut off the water supply to Syria and Iraq once the dam is built. This issue has already been identified as a potential cause of war in the region. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former secretary-general of the UN has stated that, "The next war in the Middle East will be fought over water, not politics." Top cabinet ministers, including Robin Cook, Stephen Byers and fat controller John Prescott, have advised against the dam. Even those environmentally challenged people at the World Bank are refusing to have anything to do with the project. The Bank admits that the plan violates the UN Convention drawn up to prevent border disputes and wars between states that share water resources. If it violates World Bank 'ethical' policy (?!), just who is prepared to get involved.and why?!

Balfour Beatty and Tony Blair..... come on down!!!

Balfour Beatty have become the New chums of the Labour crew. One of its executives was seconded to the Dept of Trade and Industry's "innovation unit", while Sir Malcolm Bates, architect of the Private Finance Initiative (see SchNEWS 219), and one of Blair's heroes, was chosen as the ideal man to chair London Transport. Until his appointment, he was a director of BICC - the parent company of Balfour Beatty. Oooh.. what nasty tangled webs they weave!

Who's Balfour Beatty? They are the lovely company that built roads like the A30 in Devon. They also played a part in the Pergau Dam fiasco in Malaysia, which never worked but gave the government the opportunity to sell the Malaysians arms.

As for Tony Blair's involvement. issues such as Turkey's desire to become part of the European Union, and the fear of losing money gained by extensive arms sales to a Nato ally were clearly too pressing for him to risk upsetting the Turkish Government. Don't worry about the 20,000 people set to have their lives disrupted, Tony, we're sure they'll manage somehow!

In order for the Ilisu dam to comply with European Law, the government needed to provide an environmental assessment of the dam. The documents revealed the devastating environmental impact of the dam and the expected human rights violations. But all this now means nothing as the final environmental assessment report will be prepared by none other than Balfour Beatty!!

Feeling outraged at these projects? Did you realise that you have, and will be, actually helping to fund them? Welcome to the world of the Export Credit Guarantee Department.

This is a cheeky little scam that provides insurance for companies operating abroad. If the host country doesn't pay, the agency, meaning the taxpayers, foot the bill. The Department then uses its muscle, backed by the govt, to force the reluctant country to reimburse it with interest effectively acting as a global debt collector for British corporations.

The Department kindly refuses to take social, human or environmental rights into account preferring to leave it up to the host country. George Monbiot has described them as, "the biggest threat to sustainability and social justice on earth.It pursues it's money with ruthless determination, even when the debts were incurred for projects crawling with corporate corruption It is responsible for 95% of the debt owed by Southern countries to the British Government."

Want to hear more? This nasty, secretive little lot is at present backing two nuclear power plants in China and supported the Nathpa Dam in India. And it gets worse! British Aerospace's sale of 40 Hawk jets to Indonesia was insured by the Department.


SchNews Vocab Watch

* Kurdish-Dam is not Cockney Rhyming Slang for Kurdistan. Kurdistan is the area Kurdish people have inhabited for over 4,000 yrs. It was carved up by French & British colonialists in a 1923 treaty after the collapse of the Ottoman empire to become parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey.

** Turkish-Bath - Cockney Rhyming Slang for Laugh

* Kurdistan Solidarity Committee Trade Union Group, Tel: 0171 250 1317



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