Kurdistan

IRAQI KURDISTAN: May 2015 Update

 

MAY 2015
 

Iraqi Kurdistan

Visit to Gullan

On May 5-6 we visited our friend Kak Latif in his home village of Gullan.  CPT has partnered with Kak Latif and other activists who are speaking out against Exxon Mobil oil exploration in the region.  On a walk through the mountains that surround his home, we were reminded of the sacredness of land and our delicate connection to it.  We are extremely grateful to Kak Latif and his family for their hospitality and their struggle to preserve the land that gives all of us life.

IRAQI KURDISTAN UPDATE: April 2015



APRIL
 

Iraqi Kurdistan


Accompaniment in Kani Shaya

On April 27th, CPT accompanied farmers of Kani Shaya, a village in the Bazian area, to a meeting with a representative of the company which is constructing a new cement factory on agricultural land. Some farmers of the community signed contracts with the company and sold their land. However, the monstrous construction also affects the adjacent fields, whose owners have not received anything. In the presence of CPT the company representative promised that after the construction is finished and the company begins earning money from the cement, the farmers will be compensated. In the meantime, the company expressed that they might be willing to meet the request of the farmers to provide electricity to some of their houses that they use while working on their fields.

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Pray for CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team’s partners who work with children, teaching peacebuilding skills and comforting those who had to flee from their homes.

                              *Epixel for Sunday, May 17, 2015
Children at Kobane School:
"Peace is what it was like before the war. On the right you can see children playing and going to school, trees, 
flowers, and birds. This is what it used to be like in Syria. Now, there are tanks and rockets, people wounded 
and dead." 
For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 8, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 8, 2015
Pray for the displaced Yazidi and Arab residents of Arbat Camp in Iraqi Kurdistan—all of whom have fled great violence and upheavals. 

 (Photo by  UNICEF- Belgium)

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Praying for God to forgive ISIS at the Easter Sunrise Service

 

He is Risen! 

Yesterday the team awoke at 4:00 a.m. to travel to the Chaldean Monastery for an Easter Sunrise Service. When we arrived we went through the usual routine of passing through the security detail, having our bags hand searched and being patted down for weapons. (Men only, since there were no women assigned to the detail.) Stepping across the threshold into the courtyard of the monastery we noticed that it was very quiet. A few people were awake but the day had not yet started.  It would be a work day for most, since Easter and Sundays are not holidays or days off in Kurdistan.

When I first came to the monastery several years ago it was a place for quiet reflection and meditation, a retreat center staffed by two priests and one sister. Now it is a refugee center for the IDPs—internally displaced persons—from Mosul, Qaraqosh and other Christian communities from Iraq and Syria. As the time of the service approached, the people living in the monastery, Christian Kurds and internationals, began to file in and the service, led by Father Jens, began. The service was in Arabic and English, one part, like the Apostle's Creed, read in Arabic, the blessing for Host in English, then the wine, in Arabic. One of the more powerful points during the worship came when the Christians in the church prayed for God to forgive Al-Bagdadi, ISIS, Al-Shabaab and finally those who most recently massacred Christians in Kenya.  As I stood there I realized I still have much to learn about forgiveness.  My heart is still hardened by revenge after spending time in the camps hearing the stories of the Yazidis. How could the people in that church who have suffered so much and lost everything they owned ask God to forgive those who have committed such horror against them? Perhaps I should open my ears and heart to the story of Jesus' passion and learn the lesson of Easter?  Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Christians of Iraq has taught me much about the road I still have yet to travel.

 Happy Easter.... He is Risen indeed! 

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Exxon Mobil pollutes Kurdish villages, denies villagers access to land

On 9 March, a Kurdish farmer, Kak Mirro, committed an act of civil disobedience by burning grapevines in his own fields.

The day before, he had phoned the CPT Iraq team,  â€śPlease come to Haji Ahmed. Tomorrow at 10:00 am the oil will begin to flow.” After some discussion, three of our team decided to drive the two hours to the tiny village, picking up our lawyer friend, Latif, along the way.

 The day was bright with a spring chill in the wind. We met Kak Mirro at his house and then drove over the tortuous farmers’ roads up to a spot overlooking the oilrig built throughout the last year.  Kak Mirro told us the oil company, with the backing of the government, has ordered them to stay away from these fields—at a time when they need extra attention—a rule reminiscent of the period two years ago when the exploration had begun and the company destroyed crops and vineyards.

 
Kak Mirro with excess gas fire burning in background. 

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPT explores peacebuilding initiatives between Yazidis and Arabs in Arbat Camp

(Photo by  UNICEF- Belgium)

On the 4 March 2015, we came to Arbat Refugee Camp to talk about setting up Alternative to Violence Projects (AVP) because of growing tensions between the Yazidi and Arab residents who have fled the areas held by ISIS. Upon entering the camp I was just struck by how many tents there were and how muddy the ground was.   Children were walking barefoot through the mud; people were collecting blankets and mattresses distributed by relief agencies.


During our conversation, one of the Yazidi men we were talking with showed us a picture of a female family member who had slit her own throat to escape capture by ISIS. Everyone has had family members taken, killed or has had family members commit suicide after being raped by ISIS. The fear of the Arab as the perpetrator of these crimes is so high. 

When the camp opened there were around 300 Yazidi families and 400 Arab families. Now there are over 1700 Arab families. A lot of the new waves of Arabs have come from areas held by ISIS. The Yazidis see the Arabs as the people who took their wives and children and murdered the men in their families. During our conversation, one of the Yazidi men we were talking with showed us a picture of a female family member who had slit her own throat to escape capture by ISIS. Everyone has had family members taken, killed or has had family members commit suicide after being raped by ISIS. The fear of the Arab as the perpetrator of these crimes is so high. 

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 11, 2015 Iraqi Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 11, 2015 Iraqi Kurdistan

Give thanks for the nonviolence pioneers in Iraqi Kurdistan—both natives of the region and people driven from their homes by the Syrian War and ISIS violence—who recently completed an Alternatives to Violence Training.  They will use their training to help reduce conflict within and between communities that are sharing the region and its resourcess

*Epixel for Sunday, March 15, 2015

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north
and from the south. Psalm 107:1-3


 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Training nonviolence pioneers to confront ISIS trauma

Throughout the last eight months the population of displaced persons in Iraqi Kurdistan has multiplied rapidly. In May 2014 approximately 200,000 Syrian refugees were living there. Now, in February 2015 the region is caring for approximately one million persons from a wide range of backgrounds: Syrians, Syrian Kurds, Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Sunni and Shia Arabs, Ezidi/Yezidi and other minorities. The host Iraqi Kurdish population has risen to the challenge to the best of their ability: collecting goods and caring for the most vulnerable. However, the early emergency has passed and it appears that the visitors will not be leaving anytime soon. Tensions and conflicts between the various groups are beginning to rise.

One organization working in the situation is REACH (who was CPT-IK’s inviting partner in 2006).  This group, along with RDSYP, funded by Christian Aid UK, had the vision of presenting workshops to train individuals from these ethnic and religious groups to create community and understanding and reduce the potential of further violence. CPT-IK’s friend, Ann Ward, suggested that Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) would be a good experiential way to equip these persons to face the tensions in a nonviolent, compassionate way. Participants would receive training to present one day workshops to young people with the goal of providing opportunities for listening, understanding and cooperation.

Ward invited two members of CPT-IK to co-facilitate this first adventure of AVP in Iraqi Kurdistan. Two other CPTers joined the training along with sixteen persons from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.

IRAQI KURDSTAN: Fruits of your support of 90 Yazidi families through CPT partners WADI and ALIND

IRAQI KURDSTAN: Fruits of your support of 90 Yazidi families through CPT partners WADI and ALIND

In the past months, we as CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team have ventured onto unusual ground for CPT. We have amplified a call for financial donations from our partner organizations WADI and ALIND for support of 90 Ezidi (Yazidi) families who had fled ISIS brutality and found refuge in unfinished houses near Duhok.

We in the Iraqi Kurdistan team would like to thank all who so readily responded to our call and also shared and amplified it farther.

2014 12 22 photo 

WADI and ALIND aid displaced Ezidi
people who escaped ISIS violence.