When we look at Hasankeyf, in south-eastern Turkey, one sees the cliffs, hundreds of meters, a natural wall that stands against the sky. At sunset, to rise to the song of swallows and the melody hidden in the history of humanity.

Hasankeyf, a city old to 12,000 years old, will soon be swallowed up and the life of the inhabitants of the region disrupted by an artificial lake due to the construction of the controversial dam of Ilisu. Many villages will also disappear under the water, which will carry also the memories of tens of thousands of people.

” READ ALSO – Sinking announced on the waters of the Tigris Turkish

Mehmet, 73 years of age, looks from its garden, the citadel of the roman of Hasankeyf, which is now surrounded by a wall of white stones, as there would be the funeral of a close cropped for many years by the disease. He has spent his entire life here, to cultivate his land along the Tigris. This year, he has harvested for the last time the fruits of its vines and its fig-trees: in April of next year, its ground should be entirely flooded.

tombs displaced or swallowed up by the waters

“No amount of money can buy these fig -”

Everything changes also in the valley of Botan, she is also sentenced to become a lake, where new bridges are built above the old. Halil Ertan had to convert 48-year-old, fishing the river, he had practiced since his childhood, fishing in a lake. The fish are bigger but without taste, he said.

Manager of the hotel Salikbahce, Firat, also a 48-year-old sighs: “For years, we hear, we feel, but we saw nothing. For years, this approach, we feel we must go but we live in a time of uncertainty”. “We have a garden 60 years old here, full of freshness and life,” he says. “For us, this feeling is worth more than all the money in the world, no amount of money can buy these fig trees”.

The dead are buried in the cemetery are carried away to the new town. BULENT KILIC/AFP

The government rejects such criticism, arguing that most of the monuments of Hasankeyf have been put away and a new city was built nearby to rehouse the approximately 3000 inhabitants of the historic city. The dead buried in the cemetery are also carried to the new town, on the condition that their loved ones should make the request. Fatih looks at the employees move the bones of his brother, who died at the age of 15 in 1997 following a fall while he was trying to catch pigeons. A ceremonial which he saw as a second burial.

Yunus, 12, is in search of the grave of his little brother, who died shortly after his birth in 2016. His tomb has almost disappeared under the earth, in the absence of a distinctive sign. It is intended for employees who came to dig up the body, helping to make re-emerge the grave. But we discovered a little later that the family, having not made a specific request, the burial of the child will be engulfed by the waters.