Press statement on World Water Day 2016

Right to Water logoOn World Water Day (22nd March) 2016, we are not remaining quiet:

We are defending our water, our right to water and life!

Today is March 22, World Water Day. In these days we are going through, as the pressure on the natural resources and societies aggravate, World Water Day is not a day that we celebrate but rather a day that we take action in order to protect our water and right to it as well as for justice and life around the world.

Middle East is affected by the worst drought in the past 900 years and meantime is experiencing revolutions and civil wars. Millions are threatened by drought in southern Africa. Thousands of people are struggling with health problems due to lead use in water pipes in Flint, Michigan. While USA allocates 16% of its budget on military defense, experts note that all the drinking water pipes throughout the country should be changed with the new ones and this can be done through allocating only 0.3% of the budget. In Ireland, hundreds of thousands of people stand up to installation of tap timers and to commercialisation of water. We believe that “water is a human right” as opposed to the mainstream approach of the governments and the companies that sees water as a commodity.

Our essential water beings are exploited and our right to water is being violated. Being majorly responsible from this water crisis, governments and companies are proposing their so-called solutions, which can make the scale of the crisis even larger. As a consequence of implementation of such commercial solutions by the governments who act as the representatives of these companies, dams and hydroelectric power plants are blocking our rivers.

Turkey was selected in Europe’s “most endangered 7” heritage list for the year 2016 due to the Ilisu Dam and hydroelectric power plant (HEPP) project which will submerge the 12 thousand years old town of Hasankeyf. Due to thousands of dams and HEPPs, we no longer can see rivers flowing freely in Turkey. Coal fired thermal power plants contaminate our water resources. These currently functioning power plants are responsible from the contamination of water, soil and air along with threatening public health. Yet, the government of Turkey is planning to construct approximately 80 more coal fired thermal power plants as well as nuclear power plants.

The areas that hold protected area status in accordance with international conventions constitute only 4% of Turkey’s total surface area, yet these areas are becoming open to use with the help of new legislations. In fact, among approximately 130 wetlands area that needs to be protected in Turkey, only 14 of them is under the conservation of Ramsar Convention.

Turkey’s largest city Istanbul’s forestal areas and 10% of the city’s water resources are being destroyed through mega construction projects that are currently underway, such as the third airport, the third bridge on Bosporus and creation of new residential areas which turns the city into a soulless concrete jungle.

Water prices are being increased constantly in urban regions in order to save water. Citizens experience water cuts when they are not able to afford such high water bills. Moreover, the municipal tap water is not suitable for drinking in spite of such high prices. Local governments in almost all cities handed over their primary duty of providing drinkable tap water to private water companies, which are providing services based on the notion ‘the more bottled water the more money.’

All these neoliberal “solutions” both contaminate and consume water beings, and grow ecological injustice in access to water. Such that, struggle for right to water has now become a matter of existence and democracy. Corporate powers and the state can commit any kind of crime against humanity, all in the name of profit.

We need collective ecological solutions – not neoliberal remedies – to ensure the wellbeing of our commons as our life sources. As World Water Day is our day, we are the ones to protect our water for the future generations. Therefore, we demand the following:

  • Water is irreplaceable part of life and human right. Water is part of all living beings’ commons. It is neither an instrument for making profit in the hands of compaines, nor a strategic weapon for building hegemnoy in the hands of states. We say “no” to the privatisation, commodification and commercialisation of water and water services. We demand that right to water be guaranteed within the Constitution and public participation be an essential part of water governance.
  • We deny all neoliberal policies which force central governments to profit from water. We say “no” to legal regulations and practices that oblige local governments to make profit from water. We demand that tap water be clean and tasty enough for drinking and all citizens have free access to it as long as they do not exceed the amount necessary for basic needs (drinking, cooking and personal cleaning). We demand that all necessary improvements within the public water and sanitation services be provided by public entities, not private sector.
  • Protecting lakes, rivers, seas, ground waters and wetlands is essential for protecting both the current and the future generations’ rights to water. We demand that all kinds of projects that contaminate and diminish water beings be halted. We demand conservation of wetlands and forests.
  • Practices such as construction of dams, interbasin water transfers, desalination and excessive use of ground water reserves, which are imposed as solutions to water scarcity, are “solutions” with high ecological and social costs and they make the existing problems to grow bigger. There is no solution to water crisis without taking into consideration the climate change. Therefore, we demand the use of fosil fuels be reduced significantly in order to decrease negative impacts of climate change and effective steps be taken in this direction.

We say “First human and nature, not profits”. We are not remaining quiet on World Water Day and we express once again our commitment to defend our right to water and life.

Su Hakkı Kampanyası (Right to Water Campaign)

Phone: +90 506 365 2729

Website: http://www.suhakki.org

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