The team members for this month included Anita David, Lukasz Firla, Michele Naar- Obed, Beth Pyles, Zachary Selekman, and Chihchun Yuan.
The team met with three representatives of the displaced community in Zharawa. “We feel hopeless,” one of the representatives said. The representatives were aware that economic strains and limited material aids undermine the unity of their community. The three representatives brainstormed ideas to bring their people together.
Naar-Obed went to the Zharawa IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) tent camp with two NGO representatives: Voices of Older People (VOP), and Friends of Kurdistan Foundation (FKF). The three listened to ideas from families who have remained in the tent camp about how to bring unity to the Pshdar villagers. The representative from FKF expressed interest in helping to establish a small sewing business if the villagers agreed to work together.
The three left the families, which included old people and a toddler, at the camp sitting in cold, drafty tents during a snow storm.
The team translated an email regarding eight missing Palestinian men who were last seen in a police station in Talafar, Mosul. Even though travel to Mosul is not possible, the team agreed to try to follow up on the men through other contacts.
Selekman and Firla visited the Christian center in Suleimaniya that offers aid to displaced Christian families. The director shared stories of violence against Christians and particularly, Christian women.
Naar-Obed took the CPT Iraq Human Rights report to Prime Minister Barham Salih’s office. The representative who received the report became very interested in the Pshdar IDPs and asked if he could accompany CPT the next time the team visited them in Zharawa.
Team members visited the Pshdar IDPs at the tent camp, accompanied by the representative from Prime Minister Barham Saleh’s office and by the Director of the Rania Youth Center. Representatives from nine villages explained their current situation and drafted a letter stating their needs and desire to build a collective village close to their old villages where they will be safer and able to return to a dignified, productive life. They presented the letter to the Prime Minister’s representative who promised to deliver it to Dr. Barham Salih.
The team visited two village leaders in Zharawa who shared more details about their ideas for the new collective village. Ideas included creating safety in numbers by gathering all the families in one village, establishing a CPT house in the village, and sharing of agricultural responsibilities cooperatively to address the issues of poverty.
The team also discussed publishing their letter to the Prime Minister through local media in order to put more pressure on the government to provide the IDPs with the necessary aid to build this village.
The team visited an adviser at Kurdistan Human Rights Watch to get advice about a proposal for a project in Kirkuk as well as advice about how to best follow up on the missing Palestinians in Mosul.
The team met with a Parliament candidate from the Gorran list to learn more about the recent election violence in Suleimaniya. The candidate shared his high expectation for democracy and goals should he become elected.
Naar-Obed went to the local PUK office to try to arrange a meeting with President Jalal Talabani regarding the IDPs in Zharawa. Naar-Obed was sent to the Office of the Secretary for Mam Jalal to pursue the appointment. In celebration of the prophet Mohammed’s birthday, the team translator’s wife shared a special meal with the team.
Two Dutch journalists interviewed team members about their work with IDPs.