Prayers for Peacemakers, September 18, 2013

 Epixel* for 15 September 2013

 For the hurt of my poor
people I am hurt, I mourn, and
dismay has taken hold of me.
Jeremiah 8:21


Prayers for Peacemakers, September 18, 2013

Pray for the people of Iraqi Kurdistan who are currently facing violent attacks as part of the parliamentary election campaign.  Pray also that the U.N. election monitors will observe the voting process carefully and transparently to ensure that the elections are not corrupted.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPT calls on authorities to respect people’s political choices, U.N. to report accurately on election violence and fraud

On 15 September, CPT Iraqi Kurdistan held a press conference to present its urgent appeal concerning the current election campaign. The team felt the need to publicly address the violence that has been escalating during the last few days in Suleimaniya, and what appears to be a lack of adequate response from the authorities and the international community.  Three TV-stations and reporters from five newspapers and websites came.  CPTers read the statement in English and in Kurdish and answered questions from the journalists.

Following is the appeal:

An urgent letter to the KRG authorities, the Iraqi Kurdistan security forces and the representatives of the U.N.
This appeal concerns the coming parliamentary elections in Iraqi Kurdistan.

We are with Christian Peacemaker Teams, an international human rights organisation. We have been in the Kurdistan region since 2006, and we advocate for Kurdish human rights. We try diligently to understand the culture of the Kurdish people.  During the times of the bombing by Turkey and Iran in the border regions we saw the suffering and the devastation of the villages.  Through meetings with villagers, after the bombings, we realized that this is a peaceful nation that rejects violence.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Joy of upcoming elections tainted by violence

Walking on Salim Street in Suleimaniya during the first week in September, one could feel the people's excitement in anticipation of the 21 September 2013 Iraqi Kurdistan Parliamentary elections.  Campaign material was everywhere.  Flags strung across the streets bore the political parties' symbols and colors.  Thousands of posters covered the walls and electric poles.  Every evening on Salim Street, cars moved slowly down the street, horns blowing, people cheering, flags waving, children filled with excitement as they waved out the car windows.


Much of the enthusiasm springs from the hopes that the new elections will bring political change.  However, many others feel afraid of what this change will bring.  People anticipate that most likely the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) will for the first time lose to the Gorran bloc.  The PUK—led by the Talabani tribe and a leader no one has seen in public after he suffered a stroke last December–has held power in this part of Kurdistan since 1991.  Gorran, which means "change" in Kurdish,  is a progressive political movement unrelated to the traditional tribal structures.  Many people in Iraqi Kurdistan hunger for change.  However, this change would bring an end to the world many people know well.  The resulting tension is disrupting the hope for a peaceful process.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 22 August 2013


 Epixel* for 25 August 2013
 Villagers showing site of oil well to team
 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. Ps. 71:4

Prayers for Peacemakers, 22 August 2013


Pray for the villagers in the Shaqlawa district.  A U.S.-based company has destroyed many hectares of their vineyards and orchards and blocked access to many more.  They are organizing to develop a campaign to regain their lands.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Kurdish villagers resist U.S. oil company’s confiscation of their land

A couple weeks ago, our team learned of the Kurdish villagers about three hours away from Suleimaniya protesting against a U.S.-based oil company that had confiscated their land.

Villagers showing site of oil well to team

On 6 August, a hot sunny day, we traveled there.  Our host, Kak Miro, expressed joy that we had made the trip.  Even though he, his wife, and two children were fasting for Ramadan, they served us water, tea, and a delicious local watermelon.

Several men arrived and began to share their story.  A U.S.-based oil company came into the surrounding valley in spring and began to build an oil well in the middle of the orchards and vineyards that hundreds of families in three villages have worked on for generations.

The construction site and adjacent roads destroyed seventy dunums (around seven hectares / eighteen acres) of five-decades-old grave vines that belonged to mukhtar's (village mayor’s) family.  The mukhtar spoke with tears in his eyes about his vines and a company worker who also cried while bulldozing them.  â€śHe understood what he was doing, how much damage he was causing. But he was forced to do his job,” said the Mukhtar.

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 26, 2013

Give thanks for the release of whistleblower Karzan Karim, jailed in 2011 in Iraqi Kurdistan after publicly denouncing corruption at Erbil International Airport. Karzan thanked Christian Peacemaker Teams and other organizations that advocated for him during his imprisonment.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Landmines in the fields--an ever present danger

Field where the mine exploded 

As the recent CPT delegation climbed the road into the Quandil mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan we felt the coolness of snowfields still present at the end of May.  The tips of the rocky range marked the border with Iran.  We emerged from our minibus in the idyllic mountain village, Kani Spi, to spy the blue tractor moving below us on the field.  It made its way up to the yard and stopped.  Fifteen-year-old Halgurd (named for the highest mountain in Iraq) climbed out.  He greeted us and we all introduced ourselves.

As he spoke to Mohammed, our translator, he quietly and matter-of-factly told us that the day before a mine had exploded under his tractor.  â€śI was very scared.  But not even the tractor was harmed.  The mine made a big hole deep into the ground.  I was OK too.”  Halgurd’s father lost a leg to a mine and he knows people who have lost their lives to the same destructive weapons.

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Peace is a woman and woman is peace

There we were, sitting around a table under bright green grape leaves and infant grape clusters that protected us from the hot sun.  Unusually, the women outnumbered the men. However, even more unusual was that the first question came from a woman to me. “I am asking you because you are a woman,” she said. “Violence against women happens all over the world. How do you think that we can change that?” 

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Spring 2013 Update

An overview of
CPT Iraqi
activities during
spring 2013.

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 17, 2013

Pray that the women of Iraqi Kurdistan may find freedom from domestic violence, discrimination in legal and medical systems, honor killings and other forms of oppression. Give strength and courage to those who advance women's rights and well-being.