Leaders on trial at 'water tribunal' in Istanbul

11th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The initiative, aimed to raise awareness on water resources management, precedes the fifth World Water Forum, which begins in Istanbul next week.

Istanbul -- Turkish and foreign leaders were placed in the dock in a mock trial here Tuesday on charges of endangering the environment at a symbolic tribunal composed of environmental activists.

The initiative, aimed to raise awareness on water resources management, precedes the fifth World Water Forum, which begins in Istanbul next week with the participation of government officials, business people and civic groups from about 180 countries.

"The idea is to bring to public attention problems related to the water policies of the governments in Turkey, Brazil, Mexico but also internationally," said Ulrike Dufner from the German foundation Heinrich Boll Stiftung, which co-sponsors the symbolic tribunal.

The initiative aims to underline that access to "water is a human right and that we are violating a human right when we privatise water resources," she told AFP.

The "tribunal" targets Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the Yusufeli dam project, which, according to the activists, would meet 0.6 percent of Turkey's power needs, while forcing the displacement of 16,000 people in the northeast and damaging local biodiversity.

Also facing "charges" is Chancellor Angela Merkel over German plans to help finance the construction of the Ilisu Dam on the Tigris River in southeast Turkey, which would displace 54,000 people and submerge a prominent historical site.

The activists, who also target dam projects on the Madeira River in Brazil and accuse Mexico over a worsening environmental situation in the country, are scheduled to announce their "verdicts" on Saturday.

AFP/Expatica

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