European Parliament Urged to Act on Nagorno-Karabakh Dam Threat

Jun 21, 2013, 03:00 ET from Azerbaijan Monitor

BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 21, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --

Azerbaijan has called on the European Parliament demanding that Armenia carry out essential maintenance on a dilapidated dam in occupied Nagorno-Karabakh that engineers agree is at risk of failure with potentially catastrophic results.

It has also called on the European Parliament to condemn Armenia for arresting 11 people near the Tartar River in May who had been protesting the dam issue. Azerbaijan says the demonstrators have reportedly been illegally detained and beaten by Armenian soldiers.

At the heart of the protesters' concerns - and those of Azerbaijan - is the 125 metre high Soviet-built Sarsang dam, which straddles the Tartar River. It is allegedly long overdue for essential safety checks and maintenance. According to Azerbaijan, "a remote study made by the experts of the Department of Water Affairs and the Suyapi company of Turkey during the spring of 2013 showed that there is a significant risk of spillage and accident".

The study found that in the event of collapse more than 30 villages would be flooded, some more than 45 kilometres away from the base of the dam. Tens of thousands of people live in the areas at risk.

"We call on the Armenian authorities to permit immediate repairs and maintenance to the Sarsang Dam and Reservoir in order to avoid a disaster," the Azerbaijan Association for Civil Society Development said in its plea to the European Parliament.

Of the protest, Azerbaijan said that on May 25 a group of "about 30-40 soldiers attacked and illegally arrested the Azeri citizens". It said they were punched and kicked with one villager burned with a cigarette.

The letter to the European Parliament calls on it to "condemn the arrests and torture perpetrated by the Armenian occupiers against the delegation of Azeri villagers from the Tartar area of Azerbaijan".

Separately, Azerbaijan says an environmental disaster is being perpetrated by Armenia, which refuses to allow dam water to irrigate the regions downstream.

"All experts agree that the grave situation of the flora and fauna of the region, which has been gravely destroyed in the last decade, is traced to the lack of water and the blockage of the dam by Armenian authorities," the letter states.

Armenia has yet to respond to the charges relating to the dam and the recent protest.

SOURCE Azerbaijan Monitor