Since the 1980’s, however, the Alevis of Munzur have been living under the imminent threat of losing their homeland, as a network of 8 to 10 dams has been planned along the length of the river, including within the national park. Two of the dams have been completed, in 2003 and 2009, but thanks to legal rulings in 2010 and 2014, the rest have been blocked by Turkish courts. If the plans for those dams are resurrected and ultimately implemented, as some observers believe is likely, rare ecosystems will be flooded and Alevi sacred sites will be submerged. Many people who live in the Munzur Valley will be forced to relocate, their villages drowned beneath rising reservoirs or rendered inaccessible behind their waters.
Of course if the dams aren’t built, Munzur will still change – particularly since many young men and women now choose to pursue academic and career opportunities outside the valley, rather than staying and continuing to practice the rural, typically pastoralist, lifestyle of their parents and grandparents. But at least some recognizable version of life there will continue, and those who do leave will know they can always go home.