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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Celebrity Activism Criticised

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

Tarkan signs petition to protect the Tigris river from being dammed up
Tarkan has put his name to a petition started by Turkish nature society Doğa to stop government plans to dam the Tigris River.
An article by political correspondent Umut Erdem, reporting from Ankara for Turkish paper Hürriyet, sees Tarkan's environmental activism come under critical scrutiny - with the star raising concerns about plans to build a dam near the Tigris River.

Erdem writes that awareness about environmental sensitivities to the region has reached the highest echelons of Turkish politics, with Turkish President Abdullah Gül asking for a report to be prepared about the matter during a recent dinner given for the country's most respected archaeologists and museum curators.

At the presidential dinner, renowned archaeologist and excavation leader of the historical region Prof. Dr. Abdüsselam Uluçam - who featured in a BBC news report about the site - criticised the Turkish pop artist's attempts to raise awareness for the area, which is in danger of being flooded under current government plans of its vast GAP project - a network of dams and hydroelectric power plants along both the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

"I've been involved in the excavations for six years, and nothing is cut and dry. It needs a detailed solution. Famous celebrities like Tarkan are coming to the area saying they have come to rescue the region, but it seems a little as though they are using its name.

"It would be more beneficial to us if those that came would sponsor the restoration of one of the antiquities there, rather than raise banners and shout out some slogans," Uluçam reportedly said.

The aim of the Turkish government's GAP project is to bring employment to the respective regions and generate electricity to feed rapidly rising demand and fuel Turkey's economic development.

Tarkan recently visited Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay about the issue, and plans to present Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with a petition for the government to re-think its plans.

A far cry from the region, according to other reports, both politicians participated in the opening ceremony of the five-star Mardan Palace hotel constructed by Azerbaijani businessman Telman Ismayilov in Antalya on 23 May.

Along with 600 people specially invited to the opening ceremony, world-famous singers and Hollywood stars, such as, Mariah Carey, Sharon Stone, Monica Bellucci, Richard Gere and Tom Jones had also been invited to the ceremony.

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