Turkish police detain 33 during protest for ancient southeastern town of Hasankeyf

Turkish police on Wednesday detained 33 people during a protest against the flooding of the historic site of Hasankeyf in the country’s southeast.

Police formed a barricade and sprayed tear gas on a group of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Youth Parliament members who were preparing to release a statement on the flooding, pro-Kurdish Mezopotamya news agency reported.

A total of 32 HDP members as well as one reporter covering the protest were detained, it said.

The 12,000-year-old town of Hasankeyf made international headlines in 2014 following news that the ancient site, home of 2,500 people today, will be submerged upon completion of the Ilisu dam just about 25 miles downstream from the town.

The Ilısu dam is expected to raise the level of the Tigris River by 60 metres, submerging 80 percent of the ancient city alongside several other villages.

Turkish authorities have been pushing ahead with the transportation of historic artefacts in Turkey’s southeastern ancient town and plan to move several of the 300 monuments from Hasankeyf, despite a decision from the country’s Council of State to cancel the tender for the move.

Officials from State Hydraulic Works told Cumhuriyet daily on Tuesday that water retaining at Ilısu dam had been postponed for one month due to heavy rains. However, environmental groups maintain the postponement decision came as a result of public’s outrage to the plan.

Meanwhile, dozens of Turkish artists and intellectuals have started a social media campaign under the hashtag “#HasankeyfİçinGeçDeğil - It is not too late for Hasankeyf”.