IRAQ: Border villagers determined to stay in spite of bombardment


5 July 2010
IRAQ: Border villagers determined to stay in spite of bombardment

by Peggy Gish

Fourteen-year-old Basos from Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan had
been visiting her grandparents in the mountain village of Weza, in the Choman
district, close to the Iraq-Iran border.  About 5:00 p.m., 31 May 2010, she and other family members
were planting tomatoes in the fields when Iranian shelling began.  One rocket exploded close by, killing
her and traumatizing her twenty-five-year-old cousin.  

Three weeks later, two members of our CPT Iraq team and a
member of Human Rights Watch sat outside the village of Basos’ uncle, looking
downhill at the newly planted fields.  He said, “When Basos’ mother heard about her death, she had a
partial stroke.  In her grief she
told us, ‘It’s hard to send your daughter off, and her body is brought back to

“Over the last ten days, more than 200 rockets have exploded
around our village,” he continued.  “There hasn’t been much damage to our property, but people
here are terrified and many have left….Our plants will die if we don’t water
them every two or three days.”  He
explained that farmers in this mountain area must plant within a fifteen-day
period in late May and early June in order to get a harvest.  “Farmers who had planted, but left
because of the shelling and weren’t able to water their crops, have lost about
$7,000 in income…These have been our farms for generations, and we are
determined to stay.”

“When the bombing starts, we feel terror and everyone starts
to run,” Hania,* of Kani Spi village,  told us.  “During the bombings, it feels like they see us as animals,
not humans, for them to treat us this way…  Everyone must put pressure on the governments to stop the
bombing.”  Her husband commented on
how the U.S. has assisted Turkey in its past attacks of the area by
sharing military intelligence with Turkey and that there seemed to be a
collaboration between Turkey’s surveillance flights over these areas and
Iranian bombardment.  “It seems
ironic that the U.S. has done everything here to help the interests of Iran,”
he said.

We heard during the visit that two nights earlier (19 June),
Turkish military planes attacked village areas in the Sitikan sub-district in
the Erbil Governorate northwest of Choman, killing an eleven-year-old girl, and
seriously injuring her mother and brother.

Returning to Kani Spi at dusk that evening, we greeted
families living in tents or small stone houses with thatched roofs.  We
saw a woman milking her cow, families returning from work in the fields, and
teenagers bringing sheep and goats in for the night.  Children gathered, and we found ourselves in the middle of a
game, volleying a ball back and forth.  

We saw a people living with a sense of hope, passing on to
these children their traditional way of life and their spirit of strength and

*Name changed


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