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TURKEY: British Petroleum Pipeline Hit by Fresh Human Rights Storm

by Conal WalshThe Observer
March 27th, 2005

BP is facing renewed criticism of its involvement in the construction of a
Caspian oil and gas pipeline after campaigners made fresh claims of human
rights abuses relating to the controversial project.

The British oil giant is a lead partner in the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline,
which has been dogged by claims of environmental damage and heavy-handed
behaviour by the Turkish government, whose forces are providing security for
the project.

A report by Friends of the Earth, the anti-bribery group Corner House and
the Kurdish Human Rights Project will allege this week that villagers
displaced by the pipeline have not been adequately compensated and that
protesters have been harassed and mistreated, with one allegedly tortured by
Turkish police.

The claims add to continuing concern about the potential environmental
impact of the pipeline, which passes through several areas of outstanding
natural beauty. The �2.4 billion project is backed by other energy firms, as
well as the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development.

There is no suggestion that BP had any role in the alleged abuses, but
yesterday campaigners alleged that the company had failed to do enough to
ensure that the project did not breach environmental and social standards.

Hannah Ellis of Friends of the Earth said: "BP's project is resulting in
human rights abuses on the back of development bank finance. We told BP and
the World Bank that their consultation process wasn't effective, but they
ignored our concerns. The evidence we saw on the ground was shocking."

At 1,760 kilometres, the pipeline will be the longest in the world, taking
oil from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan through Georgia to Turkey. It is expected
to pump a million barrels a day of Caspian crude to the Mediterranean coast
this year.

The project has been endorsed by George Bush, who is keen to reduce Western dependence on Middle Eastern and Russian oil.



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