Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Europa Nostra recognizes Allianoi campaigner

Our very first post on Hasankeyf Matters was about the fate of the ancient city of Allianoi, one that we hope very much to prevent Hasankeyf sharing.

Before, during and after the burial and flooding of Allianoi, Associate Professor Ahmet Yaraş was a tireless campaigner for its excavation, preservation and -- now -- commemoration. His work has not gone unnoticed, even though Allianoi has now been consigned to a watery grave, and this year Europa Nostra formally recognized his efforts with an award for dedicated service. Europa Nostra is a pan-European organization representing around 250 NGOs from more than 50 countries and describes itself as the "voice of cultural heritage in Europe."

As the jury noted, “the long lasting public campaign to save this major heritage complex from oblivion represents a powerful example to the world of how authorities should deal with their national cultural heritage, and thus the Initiative highly deserves to be recognised by this award.”

Dr. Yaraş in Allianoi (photo: Hakan Cengiz Yazar)
Dr. Yaraş previously wrote a moving piece on the loss of the site to which he had dedicated his professional life, and which had only begun to offer up its secrets. Titled I’m ashamed of what I see, we include a brief extract below.*
In an effort to save itself, the State Waterworks Authority (DSİ) is offering tender after tender;  
Concerned about votes, politicians are flashing smiles on all sides;
In an illegal protest, the kids are throwing themselves in chains;  
The lawyers are still seeking law in the courts of this country;  
I am watching the place I excavated with my fingernails and to which I dedicated the best 12 years of my life being destroyed.  
Scientific ethics...  
Between the cries of yes / no
 an affront to humanity... / a butchery of history...  
My heart aches...  
I’m ashamed of what I am witnessing. 
We warmly congratulate Dr. Yaraş on his achievement, and on his continued efforts to ensure that while Allianoi is gone, it is not forgotten.


* You can read the full translation of the piece here and the Turkish original here.

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