Iraq

IRAQI KURDISTAN URGENT ACTION: Stand With Civil Society in Iraqi Kurdistan!

IRAQI KURDISTAN URGENT ACTION: Stand With Civil Society in Iraqi Kurdistan

February 3, 2017

Stand With Civil Society in Iraqi Kurdistan
 
Everyone is born with inherent rights. Protecting and promoting Universal Human Rights is essential to building and maintaining peace around the world. The newly autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan is currently unsafe for many activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and members of civil society. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is charged with the safety of all its inhabitants  and the responsibility of safeguarding Universal Human Rights within its borders.  We wish to lift the veil of secrecy around recent killings, beatings  and ongoing attacks on journalists, activists, and members of civil society as well as highlight the seemingly systematic campaign of harassment against those exercising free speech in Iraqi Kurdistan.  We also call upon the Kurdistan Regional Government to actively protect those threatened and pursue parties wishing to harm people exercising their inherent rights within in the region.
The Kurdish Region of Iraq has enjoyed freedom and self-rule governance since the United States invasion of Iraq despite the immense toll the invasion took on people in other areas. However, the Kurdish region is also facing the worst financial crisis in its history. In 2014 the budget was cut by the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Regional Government told its employees that they were unable to pay their salaries. This decision lead to many protests by the governmental workers, especially teachers, demanding that their full salaries be paid and calling for an end to corruption in the public sector. Organizers and teachers peacefully protested for 110 days but beginning in December 2016, the security forces in Sulaimani started using violent means to try to break the teacher’s strike. Many activists and human rights defenders were arrested, beaten, threatened, or had  their property damaged or burnt. Finally, in mid January, 2017, the teachers ended their strike under immense pressure from the security forces. They were assured by the Prime Minister and his deputy no changes would come from the demonstrations. Since the protests ended, the organizers, civil society activists and journalists have faced threats and direct violence. Their families have been terrorized and social media is being used to humiliate them. Along with threats to activists, journalists and religious leaders have also been killed in the region. The government is responsible for its citizens’ security and should respect human rights by creating a space where civil society can act freely to foster and develop a democratic culture in the region without threats, violence and loss of life. 

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

In these dark times when hatred and racism are on the rise around the world, we invite you to build bridges to bring us closer to each other and to overthrow the walls that divide us by our faith, our race, our gender, and our migration status.

Let us pray that each of us can overcome the walls that separate us. Let us embrace our sisters and brothers of Muslim, Yezidi and other diverse identities, faiths and origin. Let us welcome all those who have had to leave their homes due to war. Let us pray for the hearts and minds of those who insist on dividing us to open wide.

Muslim and jew families

Photo Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

by Rezhiar Fakhir

No doubt reading the news nowadays makes you angry with the claims that far right leaders are making specifically Donald Trump. I have been confused, troubled and shocked hearing that the President of the United States has banned people from the Muslim world entering to the US. His allegation that it is to make the US safer by banning innocent people from the Middle East has puzzled me, it is as though he lives in a different world. What is even more appalling is that many people applaud him for what he is doing. He did not just ban people but he also stated that he is only going to accept Christians as they have been most prosecuted by Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East. Well Mr. President, you are wrong. Everyone has suffered equally from ISIS regardless whether they were Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, non-believers or any other beliefs that did not match with Daesh’s ideology. I have reflected on the statements that he has made and I think it is important that people have a real picture of what is happening here, not what Trump is trying to feed to people.

However, this is not by any means to dismiss anyone or depict who has suffered most or who has suffered least from the wars that exists in the Middle East and specifically war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I have had the benefit of meeting people from different corners of this region and worldwide due to the work that I am doing. Last summer we had a very diverse delegation coming to my region to learn about what was happening here. We visited one of the monasteries in the city of Sulaimani where the people working there have lived in Syria and fled to this city after the war started. 

Muslims praying at Dallas Airport

Photo credit: REUTERS/Laura Buckman.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 26 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 26 January 2017

Please pray for kak Awat Hassan and his family who CPT Iraqi Kurdistan accompanies day and night after members of the security forces have threatened to kill him. Kak Awat Hassan is a teacher and one of the main organizers of a strike that thousands of teachers have carried on since September 2016. They call on the ruling parties to deal with corruption and to resume payments of the teachers' and other employees' full salaries.

Please pray for the four members of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team who experience exhaustion from the high stress situation as they engage in the full time accompaniment and advocacy work for safety of kak Awat and his family.

Please remember in your prayers the large numbers of civil rights activists, social leaders and journalists who are at high risk of detention, beatings, kidnappings or assassinations in Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia and around the world.

 

Kak Awat Hassan drinks tea and relfects on death threats against him

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: December 2016- Demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan and more!

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan Newsletter - December 2016

Iraqi Kurdistan

 
New Year 
2016 has not been the easiest year for many people around the world, as many of them still are in war zones and struggling for peace and justice. Many people have lost their lives and many more are struggling with their governments and corrupt systems. We hold all of these people in our thoughts and we pray that 2017 brings joy and peace to all lives, communities and societies. Happy new year. Let's welcome 2017 and work together to bring about changes. We wish you all happy times and peace.

CPT- Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 
Demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan
Teachers reunited after security forces tried to separate them to end the peaceful demonstration.
 Photo by:Rezhiar Fakhir 
Teachers and civil society activists continue to protest to bring about change into Iraqi Kurdistan Region. 
As 2017 begins, teachers continue to organize protests in the city of Sulaimani demanding transparency in the region's income, rule of law and freedom. However, in December 2016, many teachers, human rights activists and civil rights activists were arrested, beaten and jailed by the local security forces. Despite the security force's harsh treatments, teachers still stress through their words and actions the importance for the protests to continue to remain peaceful.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 11 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 11 January 2017

Snow. For a lot of people snow is a synonym of a warm home. For others snow is a beautiful landscape in which they can get lost. Other people, those who have not seen or felt the snow, dream about snowflakes on their hands. However, not everyone shares the same perception of snow.

Let us pray for all refugees and people without home in Europe, Middle East, North America and the rest of the world who are suffering because of harsh winter conditions. Let us seek ways in which we can help them. Let us pray for political leaders to accept and understand that it is necessary to implement changes in order to stop the global warming. Let us pray for all those who have a cold heart so that the warmth of friends, family and community allows their hope to return.

Syrian woman walks wit her sons under the snow

Photo credit: Aljazeera.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016


Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016

2016 has been a difficult year. Stories about the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean sea, the peace process in Colombia, killings of social leaders and farmers, protests to defend water resources, political surprises that seek to eliminate rights of millions of people, intensifying abuses in Hebron, new disappearances in the borderlands between Mexico and the USA, ongoing wars around the world, increasing islamophobia, escalating abuse of migrants, violence against women and natural disasters that have left thousands of people homeless… The list seems endless.

However, even in all this darkness, we can always find a ray of light. It reminds us that we must not lose faith. The light, which the oppression tries hard to extinguish, lives and grows with the commitment and dedication of us all.

In this last week of 2016, let us pray for an amplification of the light in the coming year. The light that lives and shines both inside each one of us and in the world around us. Let's pray for this light to grow stronger and multiply.

Let us pray for CPT members in Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turtle Island, Greece, our partners and all the people struggling for peace around the world. Let's pray together for those who work to transform all forms of violence and oppression.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Baby watching TV

Photo credit: Caldwell Manners (El Garzal, Sur de Bolivar)

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: November 2016 -- Teachers' strike continues despite arrests, nonviolent resistance against Dana Gas, Duhok university students experience AVP and more...

CPTnet
17 December 2016
IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: November 2016 -- Teachers' strike continues despite arrests, nonviolent resistance against Dana Gas, Duhok university students experience AVP and more...

 
November 2016
 
 

Iraqi Kurdistan

 
Demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan
Awat Hassan talking to CPTers at his home. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir

Awat Hassan continues to be the voice of change among ongoing death threats 

Awat Hassan Abdulla is a civil society activist and one of the main organizers of the teachers’ protests that are currently happening in the city of Sulaimani. Since the beginning of the school year in September 2016, the teachers are on a strike and demand that their full wages be paid and that the government sector will stop and deal with its internal corruption. The schools and universities remain closed until now. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an international human rights organization, have been in contact with Mr. Awat Hassan Abdulla and his family, who requested that we accompany them. Mr. Awat and his family have been receiving threats and following a series of violent detentions and beatings by the Security forces (Asaish), the last one took place on the 1 December 2016, he and his family fear for their safety and lives. CPT agreed to accompany him and his family.

Read the full report here.

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: October 2016--Turkish bombing, government corruption, teachers' demonstrations and more!

 
Updates from Hemin and his family
Hemin is a human rights activist whom CPT accompanied for more than three weeks. Hemin was beaten by the security forces in the city of Erbil; his head and eyebrows were shaved. He managed to come to the city of Sulaimani, he then asked CPT to accompany him and his family. CPT visited his family in the city of Erbil where no one was able to visit them or speak to them, because they were threatened by the security forces. Hemin and his family had no choice but to leave their home and move to the city of Sulaimani. After two weeks of living in fear, his family managed to move to the city of Sulaimani. 

Read CPT's full report to learn more about Hemin and his family
CPTers welcoming Hemin's family to the city of Sulaimani. Photo by Julie Brown

IRAQI KURDISTAN: “We are not going to leave; this is our home and our land it belongs to us.”

They keep drinking their tea while the Turkish war planes are hovering in the sky above their heads." How often does this happen?" I ask pointing to the sky.

"I don't know, it depends, sometimes six, sometimes seven days a week; it's now a part of our daily lives." Kak Kaninya Barchun, village leader of Muruke (wearing the blue shirt in the picture) says while continuing to sip his tea.

Kak Kaninya explaining their situation to our team member Latif. Photo by Kasia Protz