Iraqi Kurdistan Project

About CPT Iraqi Kurdistan

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan partners with and accompanies mountain village and shepherd communities as they struggle for a peaceful existence, resisting displacement and destruction caused by Turkish and Iranian cross-border military operations. CPT documents and reports on the effects of the attacks on the civilian population, calls Kurdish and international attention to them, and advocates for an end of the attacks.

CPT amplifies voices of communities and individuals in their struggle for a violence- and oppression-free society and political sphere. We partner with Kurdish and international organizations, journalists and civil society activists. We work to raise awareness within local and international communities about the human rights issues the inhabitants of Iraqi Kurdistan face, and to tell stories of the non-violence movement in Iraq’s Kurdish north.

CPT has had a presence in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2006 following a four year presence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Past work focused on the security of the Iraqi people and their struggle for peace in the midst of war and ongoing occupation.

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Through the Looking Glass

More videos from Iraq Kurdistan

Latest Update: 

Nonviolence workshop participants: "We want to learn more"

In the spring and summer months of 2013, CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan (IK) team conducted twelve workshops on nonviolence.  In cooperation with the Suleimani Directorate of Education, the team presented this interactive workshop in five high schools to over 180 female and male students and teachers. It then led the workshop in places including the Culture Café and Café 11 in Suleimani, Amez Center for Women in Halabja, the town of Qaladze and village of Daraban.  

The IK Team wrote a ten-page report summarizing participant evaluations of the workshop, including graphs and photos. 

Report on Women's Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan

This report of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan summarizes views of fellow activists in the field of women’s rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan between March 2012 and March 2013 and their hopes for the future traces positive developments and areas where change is needed to secure the safety and equality of women in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Report: "Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks"

Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish villages, documents the impact of cross-border attacks in northeastern Iraqi Kurdistan’s Pshdar district. The attacks have caused civilian injuries and deaths, destruction of homes, livestock and crops, and contamination of land, water, and air. The report also shows how ongoing military operations threaten the very existence of the villages and jeopardize an important part of Kurdish national identity. Data for the report comes from interviews and observations conducted by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), from local Kurdish media sources, and from three reports released in 2011.  

Read the Full Report: English | Kurdish

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan Blog

Reports on events and profiles of local peacemakers....   [MORE]

Profiles of Courage

 

Mahmud, Kani Spi
Most recent CPTnet story: 

Prayers for Peacemakers 23 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 23 March 2017

This week in Prayers for Peacemakers we lift up a prayer of great thanksgiving for a successful Sabeel conference two weeks ago, and Steering Committee meetings, last week. Paraphrasing Psalm 133:1, "How good and pleasant it is when teammates sit together in unity!" Sabeel, an ecumenical center for liberation theology in Jerusalem, is a partner of Christian Peacemaker Teams Palestine. Together in unity, we affirm the prophetic call of the Gospel to renounce violence and dominative power. 

We also give thanks that Steering Committee meetings took place in Hebron so that board members who could travel here had the chance to meet teammates and participate in the work of the Palestine team on-the-ground. With the context in mind they deliberated over matters in order to build an organizational culture of justice, inclusion, mutual respect and welcome (CPT Faith Identity statement). We thank God for this good and pleasant opportunity to be together, even in the intensity of the context of Israeli military occupation.

CPT Reservist, Administrative Staff, and Steering Committee members

CPT Reservists, Administrative staff, and Steering Committee members from 5 countries joined the Sabeel conference, and the work of the team on the ground in Hebron/Al-Khalil.

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: January & February 2017-- Accompaniment and more!

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January & February 2017
 
 

Iraqi Kurdistan

 
Accompaniment 
Awat Hassan talking to CPTers at his home. Photo by: Gabe 
CPT started around the clock accompaniment for Awat Hassan
Teachers' demonstrations in the city of Sulaimani continued in January 2017 as people demanded that their full salaries be paid and for a stop to corruption in the public sector. During those protests many of the organizers and human rights defenders were arrested and harshly treated by the security forces. Awat Hassan was one of the main faces of the protests and was severely beaten, detained, and his car was burned. His wife, brother, and eleven year old daughter were also detained. In addition, his younger children were traumatized after seeing those incidents. He invited CPT to accompany him and his family during the demonstrations.

Towards the end of January, the government forced the teachers to end the demonstrations but the threats towards the organizers continued. Due to this, CPT recieved a request by Awat Hassan for around the clock CPT accompaniment for him and his family that lasted over a month. CPT also ran an international campaign to ask the government to provide security for Awat Hassan and his family.  

Prayers for Peacemakers 15 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 15 March 2017

Last week the world commemorated the International Women's Day. Also we would like to acknowledge the power and leading role of women in struggle for justice and peace all around the world.

Let us pray for all women members of the CPT projects, for all the women in the Administrative team and all our women partners around the world. Each and every one of them does amazing things in order to build a better world. Let us pray for all girls around the world. Let us pray for a better future for them.

Girls plain in the river. Colombia

Let us pray for men as well, because they need to overcome sexism and work as allies of women in their struggles. Let us pray and work together for a better world where all women, men and every individual have the same opportunities, same access to justice, education and social securities, and freedom to live in peace and for peace. 

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Train with CPT – Join CPT’s Peacemaker Corps

CPTnet
March 2, 2017
CPT INTERNATIONAL: Train with CPT – Join CPT’s Peacemaker Corps 

 

 

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is currently accepting applications for its Peacemaker Corps.  Join us in building partnerships to transform violence and oppression!  

Applicants must be 21 years of age or older and have completed, or plan to complete, a short-term CPT Delegation or internship.  Qualified applicants may be invited to participate in CPT’s intensive, month-long training from 13 July – 13 August 2017 in Chicago, Illinois USA where membership in the Peacemaker Corps is discerned.  Trained Peacemaker Corps members are then eligible to apply for open positions on CPT teams.  

CPT builds partnerships to transform violence and oppression in situations of lethal conflict around the world.  We are committed to work and relationships that: 1) honor and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality, 2) strengthen grassroots initiatives, 3) transform structures of domination and oppression, and 4) embody creative nonviolence and liberating love. 

CPT understands violence to be rooted in systemic structures of oppression.  We are committed to undoing oppressions within our own lives and in the policies and practices of our organization.   

CPT is a Christian-identified organization with multi-faith/spiritually diverse membership.  We seek individuals who are capable, responsible and rooted in faith/spirituality to work for peace as members of violence-reduction teams trained in the disciplines of nonviolence.  We are committed to building a Peacemaker Corps that reflects the rich diversity of the human family in ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender identity, language, national origin, race and sexual orientation. 

APPLICATION DEADLINE: 15 March 2017; direct any questions and send complete application to personnel@cpt.org.

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Created, Guided, and Delivered for Liberation: A Prayer for Times Like These. 

by Chris Knestrick 

Creator God, 

 You created us for right and just relationships.

 You have called your people back to your embrace

                  To that garden of equality and mutuality

                   To healthy relationships based on respect and love

                   To be laborers that harvest life. 

Creator God, You created us.  

Children painting 

event_view: 

There aren't any events planned in this region at this time.

About CPT Iraqi Kurdistan

Jauary 2009 - Present

Human Rights reporting and relationship building - The team:

  • works toward accompanying displaced persons home by living in conflicted border regions
  • documents human rights violations against civilian populations
  • shares reports with the United Nations, human rights organizations, media, and governments
  • Amplifies voices of Kurds calling for a peaceful solution to the Turkish-PKK conflict

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October 2008 - January 2009

Exploration and Advocacy - The team:

  • travels to villages being bombed by Turkey, US and Iran along northern border
  • explores possibilities for accompaniment work
  • advocates for the rights of those displaced
  • meets government officials and organizations and builds relationships
  • explores "disputed areas", Kirkuk and Makhmour
  • serves as election observers in Khanikeen during the provincial elections

 

November 2006 - Summer 2008: Kurdistan

Peacebuilding - CPT continues to work for the building of a nonviolent society in Iraq. In Kurdistan CPT focuses on:

  • detainees, meeting with Kurdish parliamentarians, lawyers, human rights groups
  • internally displaced persons, meeting with IDPs, local service providers and government officials
  • nonviolence training, talking with interested Kurdish groups and following-up with those already trained
  • work in Iraq continues to be risky, as it is for all Iraqi citizens and soldiers in the region

 

April - October 2006

Consultation, Evaluation, Exploration - after an evaluation of the past program work in the wake of the hostage crisis, Iraqi human rights groups strongly support CPT staying in the country to continue its violence reduction work. CPT explores work in other regions of Iraq and in November the team formally moves from Baghdad to Kurdistan at the request of Iraqi partner organizations. Iraqi partners in central and southern Iraq are no longer safe if seen with foreigners.

 

November 2005 - March 2006

Hostage Situation - four CPTers are abducted in late November. The crisis ends in March with the murder of CPTer Tom Fox followed by the freeing of the remaining three CPTers in a military operation.

 

January - November 2005

Persisting Occupation - though travel remains treacherous and insurgent attacks continued on a daily basis, team members venture forth in response to urging from Iraqi human rights workers in Karbala. CPT’s persevering presence and establishment of trusting relationships help establish a partnership with Iraqis committed to forming a local Peacemaker Team.

 

October - December 2004

Continuing Occupation - a rash of kidnapping foreign aid workers compel the team to severely curtail its size and visibility. Iraqi partners, while acknowledging the potential danger CPT’s presence posed to them, encourage the team to remain in Baghdad.

 

June 2003 - September 2004

Ongoing Occupation - responding to persistent reports from families of Iraqi detainees, CPTers initiate efforts to:

  • document abuse of detainees by Coalition forces
  • assist Iraqis in gaining access to loved ones in detention
  • launch the Adopt-a-Detainee Campaign asking churches to advocate on behalf of Iraqi detainees
  • support a variety of new and old Iraqi human rights groups which suddenly found themselves with space and freedom to operate

 

April/May 2003

Aftermath of the Bombing - team members travel and work to:

  • draw attention to the huge and under-reported problem of unexploded ordnance;
  • raise an alternative perspective on the invasion based on interviews with Iraqi friends.

 

March/April 2003

Shock & Awe - CPTers stay in Baghdad in order to:

  • stand alongside Iraqi families
  • provide an alternative voice to the reporters “embedded” with Coalition forces
  • use their bodies to protect critical civilian infra-structure such as water treatment facilities, electrical plants, and hospitals.

 

October 2002

Stop the War - the team and successive delegations seek to:

  • support the UN Weapons Inspection Program as an alternative to war
  • expose the injustice and deaths from the US-led economic sanctions
  • put a human face on Iraq, helping people in the U.S. understand that Saddam Hussein was not the only person living in Iraq

Current Work - Kurdish North

CPT in the Kurdish North

After living for 4 years in Baghdad among people who bore the impact of the US invasion and the chaos that ensued, the Iraq team has now become neighbors with the Kurds, the very people who, indeed, greeted the occupation forces with flowers in 2003. Now, some years later, the brutal cyclone of violence in Iraq is leaving the Kurds in yet another turbulent situation, at the hands of those who they called "liberators".

 

Brief historical context

The Kurds have a long history of oppression and uprising. They've historically been one of the most marginalized ethnic groups in the region. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, lines were drawn through the Kurdish area dividing its population of 40 million between Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. Kurdish identity is suppressed in these countries to this day. However, for the moment in Iraq, the Kurds have significant representation in parliament, one of four seats in the presidency, and the right to their language.

In Iraq, the Baath regime in the 1980's responded to Kurdish uprisings with the genocidal Anfal campaign in which nearly 200,000 Kurds were slaughtered and 5,000 of their villages wiped out. Saddam Hussein also forcibly changed the demographic of Iraqi Kurdish cities like Kirkuk, Makhmour, and Khanikeen, displacing many. There was a Kurdish uprising during the 1991 Gulf War and this was brutally suppressed by Saddam. Then the US and UK forces imposed a "no-fly" zone on the Kurdish north in order to protect the Kurds. The north still lived under economic sanctions imposed by Saddam while the rest of Iraq was suffering under the UN-imposed sanctions on the rest of Iraq. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when Turkey would not allow the US to launch its invasion from its territory, the Iraqi Kurds offered the way in, actually forming the front line.

 

Current political dynamics

Today, due to the fear of losing control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk (now that the majority population is again Kurdish), it seems to Kurds that the central Iraqi government wishes to tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government area (KRG). The policy of the US is to support a strong central government. Turkey, Iran and Syria all fear that a growing Kurdish autonomy in Iraq will inspire their own countries' Kurdish populations (20-25 million in Turkey alone). Article 140 of the new Iraqi constitution states that people displaced under the Baath regime should be helped to return to their places of origin and a census should be taken, followed by a referendum to determine to which governorate a given city should belong. Such a referendum, which was supposed to take place by December 31st, 2007, would clearly induct Kirkuk and other "disputed areas" into the KRG, thereby strengthening this semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Yet the Iraqi parliament approved legislation that, following the January 2009 provincial elections, divided power in the provincial council and leadership posts as follows: 32% to Kurds, 32% to Arabs, 32% to Turkmen and 4% to Christians, even though 70% of the city is now Kurdish.[1] In addition, approximately 100,000 Kurds were disenfranchised during the provincial election on other "disputed areas" (80,000 in Makhmour, 16,000 in Khanikeen, and 5,000 in Tuz. CPTers served as election observers.) Tension is building around this issue and Kirkuk has become one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq due to ethnically/religiously-motivated violence.

Kurds are also fearful because of developments in the northern city of Mosul. Mosul is now considered THE most dangerous city in Iraq with an average of one car bomb per day and 10 incidents of violence per day, mostly against the US and Iraqi armies. Al Qaeda is reorganizing in Mosul and Fallujah under the name "Islamic State of Iraq". There are former Baath Party members operating in Mosul who support Islamic State of Iraq. The Baathist al-Hadba list won 19 out of 37 seats in the provincial election and proceeded to distribute all governmental posts to its own members. 12 seats went to the Kurdish list. Al-Hadba has also requested that Baghdad send the Iraqi army into Mosul to replace the Kurdish military (peshmerga) which claims responsibility for security in the KRG and the Kurdish part of Mosul and other cities in the "disputed areas."

 

A hidden war

Iraqi Kurdistan is surrounded on all sides by hostility. It is divided in four by crosshairs, at the center of which is the Northern Iraqi border where a hidden war continues in the mountains. Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) from Turkey and their Iranian associate, Party for Free Life (PJAK), both on the US and EU terrorist list and in armed conflict with their respective governments, use Iraq's border as a haven for their operations. This war has raged for over two decades, killing nearly 40,000, displacing over a million Kurdish civilians in Southeast Turkey[2] and thousands more inside Iraq.[3] In late 2007 Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan met in Washington with President Bush and an agreement was made to collaborate in renewed attempts to eliminate the PKK presence in Iraq.[4] The military incursions would be based on US military intelligence. Iran's cross-border shelling, which has been intermittent since 1996, picked up intensity in early 2008 in alleged coordination with Turkey's attacks. Shelling typically follows sightings of Turkish surveillance planes over Iraq. 

Although political agreements have been made between Turkey and Iraq to limit media attention, the impact these incursions are having on civilian populations can be seen.  CPTers have traveled along the entire northern border interviewing internally displaced persons (IDPs) and exploring possibilities for a project to accompany people who are returning to villages from which they fled. The team has kept regular contact with the United Nations and local Kurdish NGOs that have assisted these IDPs. In some areas they've been able to visit the remains of Muslim and Christian villages destroyed by the Turkish bombing and talk to villagers who still live there or come and go to care for crops or animals under the threat of further random attacks. They interviewed a 27-year old woman who lost her leg, families of persons who were killed in these bombings by Turkish military, and people whose family were taken from their villages and allegedly tortured by Turkish soldiers. Testimonies of villagers and government officials have confirmed the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools, mosques, churches, and hospitals. Turkish and (and also Iranian) bombing has killed an extensive amount of sheep and cows and scorched villagers' agriculture. The Turkish military has bombed bridges and planted land mines, cutting people off from harvesting their crops. Bombing continues in areas still inhabited and is audible from some areas where IDPs now live. CPTers have also seen 12 of the numerous Turkish military bases positioned well within Iraqi territory. According to villagers and Iraqi Kurdish security officials, Turkish military at these bases watch their movements, set up checkpoints, strike during the time of planting and harvesting or anytime they observe displaced villagers returning to their homes, and burn agricultural fields for the purpose of "visibility." Locals experience the Turkish presence as an oppressive occupation.

Based on what CPT and other human rights organizations such as Kurdish Human Rights Project and Human Rights Watch have witnessed and documented, the Turkish and Iranian militaries could be held responsible for violating rules of armed conflict laid out in Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International armed conflicts.[5] (articles 35, 48, 51, 52, 54, 57)

Turkey also fails to comply with its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. It would then follow that the United States is complicit in violations of international law by a foreign military in a country it occupies. Of course, Turkey's incursions are not taking place without  the consent of the Iraqi central government. The US, Turkey and Iraq have formed a joint commission to solve "the PKK problem." The commission meets in Erbil, the capital city of the KRG, which apparently advocates little on behalf of its displaced citizenry.  Iraq has, however, as of May 2009, officially condemned Iran's incursions and attacks on the KRG.

The PKK are also responsible for crimes against humanity. They have carried out acts of terrorism against civilians. Refugees CPT has interviewed at Makhmour camp, who fled Turkey because of their relation to alleged PKK members, own that they once purported faith in armed revolution, but that now they, and the PKK leadership, are calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict. It is worth mentioning that, as of June 2009, the PKK continues attempts to maintain a unilateral ceasefire and is calling on the Turkish government to engage in dialogue. That is something that all peace-advocating organizations should encourage and uphold because there is no military solution to this conflict.    

 

The CPT Iraq Team's current work

The CPT team is currently focusing on the IDPs of the Pshdar district in the Sulamaniya governorate. The first steps in the process of helping these people return to their villages will not be physical. They will be in form of recording their stories, the condition of their lives as IDPs and documenting violations of their human rights. As CPT provides independent verification for the international community, UN, and governments as to the impact of these incursions on civilians, something which at this point is almost completely lacking, we are building relationships and working to spread awareness. Although local villagers still do return to their homes even now despite bombs and mortar shells, they do not wish to return with their families to stay unless they have some guarantee they are not walking into a bloodbath. At the same time they express clearly that their lives as IDPs are not sustainable and they await any opportunity to return home.

On a larger scale, CPT has observed a dramatic change in the Kurdish population from unapologetic support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq to anger at the way in which the United States has treated one of its most loyal allies in the Middle East. Kurdish people, who have experienced the Anfal campaign under the Saddam Hussein regime, who were bombed in their villages, are now being bombed in their villages by Turkey and Iran with U.S. support in the form of permission and military intelligence.  CPT, therefore, joins its voice with its Kurdish partners to call for dialogue between all parties involved. We call for a peaceful solution. There is no military solution.  


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/world/middleeast/23iraq.html

[2]  U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), 2001, World Refugee Survey 2001: Turkey

[3] Yildiz, Kerim, The Kurds in Iraq, Revised Edition, Pluto, London, 2007, p81.

 

[4] Kurdish Human rights Project, A Fact-finding Mission in Kuristan, Iraq: Gaps in the Human Rights Infrastructure, July 2008, p.78

NPR.org, November 5, 2007

[5] http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/93.htm

Human Rights Reports

CPT Report: Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights
"Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan between March 2012 and March 2013 and their hopes for the future" traces positive developments and areas where change is needed to secure the safety and equality of women in Iraqi Kurdistan. While women's rights activism is growing and gaining public recognition in Iraqi Kurdistan, problems such as discrimination in the medical and legal systems, honor killings and female genital mutilation remain. Some issues, including domestic violence and court bias, have been addressed by legislation, but not acted on. Women’s oppression results in, among other things, suicides or attempted suicide by about 300 women each year.
English | Kurdish

CPT Report: "Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks"
Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish villages, documents the impact of cross-border attacks in northeastern Iraqi Kurdistan’s Pshdar district. The attacks have caused civilian injuries and deaths, destruction of homes, livestock and crops, and contamination of land, water, and air. The report also shows how ongoing military operations threaten the very existence of the villages and jeopardize an important part of Kurdish national identity. Data for the report comes from interviews and observations conducted by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), from local Kurdish media sources, and from three reports released in 2011.
Read the Full Report: English | Kurdish

CPT Report: Cross Border Bombings (March 2010)
"Where there is a promise, there is tragedy: cross-border bombings and shellings of villages in the Kurdish region of Iraq by the nations of Turkey and Iran." This report details the destruction of northern Iraqi village life by Turkish and Iranian attacks over the past two years. Written because regional and world powers, rebel groups and Kurdish Regional Government have dismissed the villagers—mostly shepherds and farmers—their lives, their futures, their lands, their children, as irrelevant to the 'larger' agendas of the parties involved.

CPT Report: Iraq after the Occupation (August 2010)
"Iraq after the Occupation: Iraqis speak about the state of their country as the US military withdraws." This report was written after a number of interviews with Iraqis about how they see the future for their country as the US withdraws. Their diverse expressed opinions show that the truth is much more complex than the US narrative seeks to present. The contribution of the “surge” to a reduction in violence in Iraq is questionable. Opinions on the reliability of the Iraqi security forces, although not entirely negative, vary widely. Iraq faces a highly uncertain future, perhaps becoming a success story, but perhaps experiencing more bloodshed. The US should think creatively about ways to support the people of Iraq as they rebuild their country.

CPT Report: Khanaqin Election Observation 2009
Four members of CPT observed the election process in Khanaqin, an area in the northeast of Diyala Province. While the procedures in place at the polling locations appeared to be sound, the overall process was nevertheless significantly flawed due to the manner in which the IHEC promulgated and implemented its own internal rules for the registration of voters; thousands were denied their voting rights on this basis in Tuz, 16,000 in Khanaqin, and upwards of 80,000 in Makhmour.

Turkish Attacks on Kurdistan, Iraq 2007/8: Background, Motives and Human Rights Impact
The paper refers to recent KHRP research in the region showing that Turkey’s operations have been in gross violation of the Geneva conventions, causing extensive harm to civilian life and property in parts of northern Iraq with little actual impact on the capabilities of the PKK. 

A Fact-Finding Mission in Kurdistan, Iraq: Gaps in the Human Rights Infrastructure
The report explains the historical and political context of the current human rights situation in Kurdistan, Iraq, and goes on to explore this situation with special reference to women’s rights, minority rights, freedom of expression, and the rights of prisoners and other detainees. Further sections are dedicated to the human rights situation in Kirkuk and other ‘disputed areas’, and the impact of the military incursions into Kurdistan, Iraq, by neighbouring countries (see p.75).

Central Iraqi Government's report on the impact of the Turkish/Iranian incursions
In March of 2008 The Iraqi council of representatives sent a fact-finding committee to study the Impact of Turkish and Iranian military incursion into Northern Iraq and publish this report.

Photo Albums

Sattar Hatem Hassan (1960-2011)

 

It was May of 2003. Iraq was in chaos. The CPT Iraq Team was surveying people on the streets, the public squares and the university in an effort to understand the national mood in the weeks following the U.S.-led invasion.

Sattar Hatem Hassan (1960-2011)

Lisa Martens and Rick Polhamus were attempting to explain the survey to a large group of Iraqis when someone asked a question they couldn’t answer with their limited Arabic.

That’s when Sattar appeared. Tall and lanky, bearing himself like a diplomat and distinguished by an unusual presence of humility, Sattar offered his help as an impromptu translator.

“He was very interested in what we were doing and why we were there,” recalled Polhamus. “There was something about Sattar that made us feel like he could be trusted.” 

Sattar Hatem Hassan, CPT Iraq’s beloved translator, died in Amman, Jordan on October 2, 20011 of heart failure. He had just turned 51.

“Sattar was so much more than a translator,” team member Stewart Vriesinga remembered. “He shared our vision and helped us become what we wanted to be. He was reflective and quiet, a very deep listener. When he did speak it was always heart-felt and well-considered. He opened our eyes to our cultural blind spots, and would gently and lovingly explain to us when our proposed actions might be misconstrued in the local context and counter what we were actually trying to accomplish. He was a Muslim who understood and supported what it was we were trying to accomplish."

Throughout Iraq and in Jordan, Sattar helped the team understand and negotiate the religious and political complexities of Iraq, arranged sensitive meetings and assisted with travel logistics. More importantly, he was a cherished friend who was universally regarded for his kindness. Another translator who worked for the team said, “He was peaceful, polite, respectful, dedicated and full of love to everyone.”

Sattar had earned degrees in French, English and Design from the University of Baghdad. He loved French literature, poetry, music and history. Before the fall of the Saddam regime, Sattar worked for the Ministry of Tourism. He delighted in bringing CPT delegations to the book market and the various archeological sites around Baghdad. 

The risks for Sattar were significant. “Whenever we asked him about the risks in working for us, he would say that our work was important and that this was his way of helping his country,” team member Peggy Gish said.

Perhaps inevitably, the risk became too much. Sattar was detained by the Iraqi police as a routine part of its investigation into the November 2005 kidnapping of a CPT delegation. The team advocated for him vigorously and he was released after two weeks. He stopped working as a CPT translator after that and began to search out asylum in another country.

When he died, Sattar was awaiting the final security clearance that would allow him to begin a new life in the United States. He had been living in Jordan for over two years under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—one of the 4.7 million Iraqis who have been displaced by the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

During his time in Jordan, Sattar offered crucial assistance to Cathy Breen and Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence in their efforts to document the plight of Iraqi refugees. He also taught French and English to other Iraqi refugees in an informal education project run by the Jesuit Refugee Service. “He was much loved by all his students and colleagues,” Project Coordinator Colin Gilbert said.

Jesuit Refugee Service assisted with the return of Sattar’s body to his family in Baghdad for burial.

CPT is immensely grateful for Sattar’s friendship, humanity and courageous witness to peace.

Videos

Voices of Kurdish Farmers in Choman (2010)

Farmers in Choman, Northern Iraq, are facing military threats.

 

Concert for bombing victims in Raniy

May 16th, 2010; a concert in Raniya Youth Activity Center. This concert is a memorial for the civilian victims of Turkey and Iran's military actions. Basos, a 14-year-old girl from Raniya was killed by Iranian shelling on 29th of May 2010. Suzan was injured and lost her leg because of Turkish bombing in December 2007. Couple days after the concert, another 11-year-old girl was killed by Turkish warplane.

 

 

Zharawa Tent Children : Joy

These beautiful, wonderful, creative, joyful, talented and bright Iraqi-Kurdish children have been forced from their homes due to repeated bombing by Turkey and Iran. They now live in a tent camp that offers no protection from the summer heat, the winter cold (yes, it does get cold), dust storms, or illness. We asked them to tell us their stories and they did so by drawing pictures of their happy lives in their villages, attacks on their homes, and fleeing to the tent camp they live in now.

 

 

 

Muhammed Ali, 1.5 years old -- Killed in Iranian Bombing

These are images of what was left of the home of one and a half year old Muhammed Ali after Iranian shells were fired through its roof. Little Muhammed was killed in the attack. This happened during a period of time in which Iran had made an agreement with the Kurdish Regional Government to stop all attacks on the villages of this area. However, on March 10, 2009 Iran broke that agreement without prior notice and fired shells into the village of Muhammed's family, Razga. Muhammed's family fled from their village to a tent camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs). But, due to the unacceptable conditions of the camp they have been left no choice but to return to their village despite the danger, for the time being. There is no reason to believe that Iran will not attack again. The civilian villages in this area are frequent targets.

 

 

 

 

Kurdish Baby Boy Killed by an Iranian Attack

It was 9pm and the family was sleeping together, with their one and a half year old son Muhammed in the middle. Without warning, an Iranian rocket blasted through the roof, and baby Muhammad was killed. The parents, Ali and Khoshia, were both injured. This is a video of Ali telling the story. Kak Ali is a Kurd from the Iraqi region of Kurdistan. His home is in a village called Razga near the Iraqi-Iranian border. Like countless other Kurds, his family was displaced from their village by Turkish and Iranian bombing. In February of 2008 good news came when Iran agreed to stop bombing the area. The local Kurdish government announced that it was safe for people to return home, so Ali's family went back to their village. However, Iran broke the agreement on March 10, 2008 and resumed bombing in several villages, including Razga.

 

 

 

Kurdistan is Beautiful

These pictures tell the story of recent history in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurds in this land have experienced genocide, been forced from their homes, wrongly imprisoned, tortured, gassed, and killed. Their families have been torn apart. Their lands have been taken and destroyed. Currently, many are forced to flee their homes and endure the terrible conditions of tent camps for IDPs (internally displaced persons) due to continual bombing of their villages by Turkey and Iran. And yet, Iraqi Kurdistan is without a doubt one of the world's most beautiful lands. And, the Kurds who live here hold that beauty within. Hope and strength abound.

 

 

 

Turkey Attacks Kurdish Village in Northern Iraq

This Kurdish village in Northern Iraq used to be a beautiful home for over two hundred people. Now, only 13 men remain. Their families and the others who used to live here have been forced to flee due to the threat of bombing. Over the past two decades, Turkey has attacked Kurdish villages in this area of Iraq continually. Previously, Turkey raided the villages from the ground. Now, the villages are targets for repeated Turkish bombing, and bombs fell around this particular village shortly before this interview was conducted. Those who used to live here have lost everything and now live the hard and discouraging lives of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). The 13 men who remain despite the obvious risk do so in order to try to harvest produce from the land in attempts to support their families who often cannot find an income elsewhere. Harvesting, however, is difficult, because this is the time of year at which Turkey often increases its attacks. One of the men who remains in the village tells their story...

 

 

 

 

Mothers for Peace

Since 1998 the Makhmoor Refugee Camp has housed 2,600 Kurdish families from Turkey. The total population is over 11,000 and an average of thirty babies are born in the camp each month. All are relatives of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members killed by the Turkish military

 

 

 

Tent camp for Displaced people in Kurdistan Iraq

Footage of a tent camp in Northern Iraq, near the Iranian border where 132 families share 90 small tents. The families were displaced when Turkey and Iran bombed their home villages in 2008. Bombing continues in the area as Turkey and Iran claim to battle Kurdish guerrillas (PKK and PJAK) so the villagers can't go home. The United states supplies military intelligence to Turkey for the attacks and Turkey in turn coordinates with Iran. The conditions at this tent camp are terrible and there is no other sustainable solution for the displaced. They hope the bombing will stop and they'll return home.

 

 

 

Displaced People in Kurdistan Iraq

This interview was done in May 2009 at a Kurdish IDP camp ( Internal displaced people) in Northern Iraq. Families in this camp were farmers at Nothern border of Iraq. Since spring of 2007, Turkey and Iran have attacked those civilians. They were forced to leave their agriculture, animals, and houses.