IRAQ UPDATE: 17-31 May 2010


28 June 2010
IRAQ UPDATE: 17-31 May 2010

Team members during this period were Peggy Gish, Brad Langendoen, Jo Anne
Lingle, Michele Naar, Zach Selekman, Chihchun Yuan, and Dir’k Ziska.

Monitoring cross-border attacks and accompanying
displaced villagers

During this period, Iran launched sporadic and often heavy shelling attacks on
Iraqi Kurdish villages near the Iranian border in the Choman district of northern
Erbil governorate, where Iranian authorities claimed Kurdish rebels [the Party
of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK)] were operating.  On one of the nights of heavy shelling—29-30 May—a fourteen-year-old
girl in the Balakiyaki border area was killed.  According to the Mayor of Choman, the shelling displaced 215
families from five villages and heavily damaged a number of farms in the

At the same time, Iran shelled villages in the Pshdar
district, including three villages that had not previously sustained
damaged.  The attacks caused
fifteen families to flee to the Prde Hazwe Valley.  About seventy-five people, including many children, were
living there in crude tents and drinking water from the river, when CPTers
visited the camp on 20 May 2010.  Villagers also brought sheep, chickens, donkeys, and a horse
to that valley.

The leaders of nine Zharawa villages continued to work on
their plan for building a new cooperative village.  One of the challenges they faced was deciding which families
would be part of this project, since some villagers who were displaced years ago
and more recently displaced villagers all wanted to be in on the new village.  Another challenge was the disparaging
comments of a few local officials, who did not take seriously the danger of the
current attacks in their village areas.  One said, “This idea was too much like what Saddam did in the
past.  Saddam brought people from
different villages and made a collective town.”  Another said, “ If we give them money to build a new
village, other people in the conflict zone will ask the same thing,” or “ Some
people have two places for two wives so they do not qualify as IDPs (Internally
Displaced Persons).”

The village leaders took the proposal to all local and
mid-level public officials, accompanied by CPTers.  These officials said they could not move ahead without the
approval and commitment to financial resources from top officials in the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG).  The
Iraq team then met with the secretary of the KRG Prime Minister, and with
representatives of KRG President Masoud Barzani.  The representatives said that the next step would be to have
a larger meeting with government officials, village leaders, and NGOs that
might contribute some funds and help with building the new village.  

Accompaniment of persons threatened for
political affiliation

Twenty-one-year-old Aziz had been staying inside the Goran (“Change”) Party
headquarters since the 7 March parliamentary elections.  He received death threats for
publically campaigning on behalf of the party, and claimed the charges that he
attempted to kidnap a PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) guard and that he shot
into a crowd in front of a PUK building before the elections, were false.  On 30 May, CPTers accompanied Aziz when
he went to the court, trying to clear the charges against him.  The judge told him there were no
standing charges, but sent him to a police station to finish the investigation.

Other former Peshmerga (Kurdish armed forces) or government
employees who also spoke publicly about voting for the Goran list told the team
that they continue to receive threatening phone calls and still have cases against
them pending in court.  (To watch CPT-Iraq’s video interviews of these men
go to


Profiles of Courage
After touring the Halabja martyr’s museum and cemetery with two team members,
Langendoen interviewed Aras Abad Akram to add to the videos in the Iraq team’s
“Profiles of Courage” series on the Iraq team’s web page.  See



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