Friday, September 14, 2012

Less haste

The Ilısu construction site (source: DSİ)
While the Ingathering last weekend at Hasankeyf was a fantastic experience for all involved, there was also some sobering news: A worker at the Ilısu Dam site lost his life in an industrial accident on Sept. 5. We of course offer our condolences to his family; while we are unquestionably against the Ilısu project, any loss of life is a tragedy.

However, we are also concerned that this could be a first sign that the government is overreaching in the accelerated program for Ilısu (and in general for expropriation to faciltate HEP and other infrastructure projects) and perhaps also in its new incentive package for the Southeast.

Ilısu construction workers (source: DSİ)
Experts and friends of Hasankeyf alike have long protested that there remains no real plan (nor sufficient time) for protection or relocation of the town's cultural assets. Hearing of a site death in a landslide less than a week after diversion of the Tigris began, we are again reminded of this.

Whatever lies ahead for Hasankeyf and its residents, we would like to hope that the authorities are acting with all due consideration, and fully weighing up the options before acting...

If the opposite is the case, it will not be for the first time, but it will be a further tragedy.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A city to inspire young leaders and innovators

Necdet Talayhan and friends in the Salahiyye Gardens
This weekend the people of Hasankeyf and their out-of-town guests demonstrated in miniature what Hasankeyf could become – a peaceful and visually inspiring retreat for spiritual reflection, cross-cultural understanding, and innovative thinking.

The second Hasankeyf Ingathering, held September 6-9, was organized jointly by Doğa Derneği, Hasankeyf Matters, and Nature Iraq with the help of various other voluntary organizations, local businesses, and individuals working across political and linguistic boundaries. 

The people who participated in the Ingathering, both adults and children, are as important as the events themselves. 

In the canyon on the way to Karaköy
Daytime hikes, coordinated by Hasankeyf Matters, included tours of the Lower City led by local archeologist Necdet Talayhan and a seven-hour trek to Karaköy Village and back, led by Abdul Kadir Faresoğlu Ayhan. Thanks also go to local merchant Arif Ayhan and Abdul Kadir Can, a local mountain climber and amateur fisherman, for help in arranging a special kelek tour on Sunday. 

Sulyon artists on the move in Hasankeyf
Nature Iraq coordinated the participation of 15 artists and environmentalists from Iraq (both Iraqi nationals and expatriates from Canada, Germany, Lebanon, and the Netherlands). Members of Sulyon – a Kurdish arts organization from Northern Iraq – performed an interpretive dance revisiting Mesopotamian legends of survival in the face of global flooding and environmental destruction. We are grateful to Hasankeyf Has Bahçe for the space provided for performances and to Batman Gazetesi for their help with the children’s art workshops conducted by Sulyon during their stay in Hasankeyf. 

Doğa Derneği sponsored the participation of Muğla University Professor Dr. Adnan Çevik, who spoke about the important insights into Islamic architecture and science provided by Hasankeyf’s Artukid and Ayyubid archeological treasures. For example, in Çevik’s view, to fully comprehend the genius of the Artukid inventor ibn al-Razzaz al-Jazari (el-Cezeri) you have to visit Hasankeyf and trace the canals that deliver water to the Citadel. 

What do you see in Hasankeyf? 
How many young Turkish inventors might be inspired over the coming years by exposure to the innovations and practices on display throughout this open-air museum of medieval Islamic arts and technology?

Professor Çevik’s excellent monograph, Hasankeyf Medeniyetlerin Buluştuğu Başkent, has been published by Doğa Derneği and Atlas magazine.

Special thanks go to Zeki Binici Hoca, of Hasankeyf Elementary School, and Hasankeyf Mayor Abdulvahap Kusen for arranging the meeting space for Professor Cevik’s seminar.

Stayed tuned to this site and our Facebook page for more photos and comments about last weekend’s activities in Hasankeyf. If you would like to be part of the next Hasankeyf Ingathering or if you have a group interested in spending a long weekend here, please contact us at hasankeyfmattersATgmailDOTcom.