Watery grave for ancient Turkish town of Hasankeyf

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This photo taken on August 17, 2019 shows the village of Celik which was deserted and invaded by water, in Dargecit, southeast Turkey. (AFP)
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An elderly woman looks at the newly built stone wall near the 12,000-year-old city of Hasankeyf, on the banks of the Tigris in southeastern Turkey on August 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

Watery grave for ancient Turkish town of Hasankeyf

  • A new Hasankeyf has been built nearby, with some of the old town’s monuments relocated there and brand-new homes for its 3,000 inhabitants

HASANKEYF, TURKEY: In a graveyard beside the doomed town of Hasankeyf, workers are exhuming bodies, carrying them to a new resting place away from the waters that will soon submerge this ancient site.
Here on the banks of the Tigris in southeastern Turkey, the residents of Hasankeyf, a town with 12,000 years of history, are waiting for the waters to come.
A new dam upstream is already operational. In the next few months, the town and nearly 200 villages in this valley will be gone.
Fatih, who did not give his full name, watches as workers carry away the bones of his brother, killed in an accident more than 20 years ago. It is like a second funeral, he says. In the background is Hasankeyf’s ancient citadel, one of the few monuments high enough to survive the rising waters, but is now fronted by a huge, white stone wall to protect it.
For 73-year-old Mehmet, the endless construction work around these old monuments is like watching the funeral of an old friend. He is busy cultivating the figs and grapes in his garden that he has tended since he was a child. This is the last time — by April, they will be underwater.

HIGHLIGHT

For 73-year-old Mehmet, the endless construction work around these old monuments is like watching the funeral of an old friend

A new Hasankeyf has been built nearby, with some of the old town’s monuments relocated there and brand-new homes for its 3,000 inhabitants. But many find it hard to let go.
“This year, officials told us not to sow seeds because the water was coming, but we did it anyway. We will sow right up to the end,” said Meseha, 62, in the nearby village of Cavuslu.
Some parts of the valley have already become a lake. That is forcing local fishermen, used to working the flowing waters of the Tigris, to adapt to still waters.
Halil Ertan, 48, is not impressed by the new types of fish he finds in the lake — fatter and less tasty, he says.
Back at the graveyard, 12-year-old Yunus is looking for the grave of his little brother who died at birth in 2016.
But when he finds it, the officials tell him the family has not done the necessary paperwork for the grave to be moved. It will be submerged with everything else that is left behind.

 


Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani tenders his resignation

Updated 23 October 2019

Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani tenders his resignation

  • Rabbani’s departure may not affect Ashraf’s already weak government because Rabbani was disqualified from office by Parliament three years ago
  • Part of Rabbani’s differences with Ghani surfaced openly earlier this month when Rabbani’s office welcomed Pakistani efforts regarding the Afghan peace process

KABUL: Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani tendered his resignation on Wednesday following differences with President Ashraf Ghani, who Rabbani accused of sidelining him.
His departure may not affect Ashraf’s already weak government because Rabbani was disqualified from office by Parliament three years ago, and served as acting minister on the basis of an order by the president.
Rabbani is an ally of Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with Ghani and is the president’s election rival.
Rabbani’s resignation comes weeks ahead of the possible formation of a new government if an election winner is announced.
“During my time, the working environment in the National Unity Government was not good from the start,” he wrote in his resignation letter.
“I witnessed parallel structures being created and have seen essential institutions — key pillars of the system — pushed to the side.”
The presidential palace had no immediate comment about Rabbani’s resignation or his allegations, which according to his supporters include being barred from attending conferences and events overseas that fall under his remit.
Part of Rabbani’s differences with Ghani surfaced openly earlier this month when Rabbani’s office welcomed Pakistani efforts regarding the Afghan peace process, which included a warm reception in Islamabad to a visiting Taliban delegation. The Afghan presidential palace openly opposed Pakistan’s warm welcome of the delegation.