Over seventy environment and human rights groups from twenty nine countries, today called for an immediate moratorium on a controversial BP oil pipeline, planned to run from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.
Seventy two organisations have written to the major public funders of the pipeline project, arguing that the pipeline would worsen human rights problems along the pipeline route, and that a background of lack of freedom of speech in the region made proper consultation and land compensation impossible.
The call echoes the findings of a recent international fact-finding mission to the Turkish section of the pipeline, which found violations of international standards, and Turkish law, on consultation, compensation and resettlement – as well as human rights problems including detentions, arbitrary arrests and state harassment. The situation is especially bad in the northeast of Turkey, where 40% of the population is Kurdish. The fact-finding mission itself was detained twice by the state gendarmerie during the course of its research.
Kate Geary, of the Baku Ceyhan Campaign, commented, “The persistent and ongoing denial by the Turkish state of Kurdish people’s rights makes it impossible for this pipeline to be built in an acceptable way. The responsible thing for BP to do would be to call off the project, at least for as long as this remains the case”.
The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline, led by UK oil giant BP, is designed to carry one million barrels of oil a day through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey to the Mediterranean coast, where it would be loaded onto tankers for export to western markets. BP and its partners are expected to request about half of the USD 3.3 billion cost of the project from public sources, what BP CEO Lord John Browne has called “free public money”.
Tony Juniper of Friends of the Earth said, “This pipeline will hit the environment and local people hard, while benefiting only the profits of companies like BP. The fact-finding mission’s report makes it clear that it cannot be built to international standards – so there is no justification for governments to fund the project”.
Petr Hlobil of CEE Bankwatch Network added, “The array of deficiencies in this project, combined with the abysmal human rights situation in the region, means that a moratorium on the project is now essential. We call on governments and international financial nstitutions not to consider financing the pipeline in the current climate”.
The moratorium call is the latest in a series of problems for BP. Last month, the human rights impact of the pipeline was criticised in a legal report by Amnesty International, and in April groups submitted complaints to the governments of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, charging that BP and its partners were violating the “Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises” of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
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