IRAQ UPDATE: November 2011



8 December 2011

IRAQ UPDATE: November 2011

on team:
  Lukasz Firla, Ramyar Hassani (intern),  Amy Peters, Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, Garland
Robertson and Patrick Thompson.

Report of Gojar IDP Camp: The team completed a report of village
life in the Internally Displaced Persons camp of Gojar.    The report
describes conditions affecting the families who have relocated here to avoid
the consequences of continuing border attacks.  The report portrays how
villagers were directed to return to their homes along the border even without
any indication that the attacks will end soon.  In order to encourage
their evacuation from the camp, provisions that had been provided for their
support were removed by officials as the residents watched.    

School activities in Suneh: The team made arrangements to
participate in school activities in the previously attacked village of
Suneh.  Regional and village officials, as well as security forces,
assisted the team in obtaining permission to conduct routine activities with
children in the school.  In addition, the team visited the village for a
special “Day of the Children” celebration.  Staff from UNICEF were present
and members of the team were able to connect with a representative, Joyce
Gachiri.  Gachiri described the support and programs UNICEF provides to
encourage and enable children to process the disruptions they experience when
attacks break unexpectedly into their village life and drive their families
away from their homes. 

Team planning retreat: The team participated in a three-day retreat
in the Rayal Cultural Exchange Center facility in
Ranya, during which members shared their visions for the work of CPT in Iraqi
Kurdistan and assessed the team’s capacities and limitations.  They clarified
potential areas of engagement and projected specific interests that will be the
focus of the team’s work for the remainder of the year.  This process
enabled the team to begin constructing a proposal for how the resources of the
team will be invested in the future.  Team members also presented to the
mayor photos previously taken of his family as a gift of gratitude for his
support as the team worked to gain frequent access to the village of

Visit from Human Rights Watch worker: A person working with Human
Rights Watch visited the team.  The worker had recently traveled in the
northern border areas, and shared information and praised the work of CPT in
the border regions.

Nonviolence presentation at Culture Café: Because of a continuing
relationship with the local coffee house, Culture Cafe, hosts invited the team
to present a discussion on choosing nonviolence as a way to manage
conflict.  The invitation coincided with the UN’s International Day for
the Elimination of Violence against Women.  Three members of the team presented
a one-hour introduction to nonviolence, and then welcomed responses and
comments from the participants. 

Conference in Hawler: At the same time as this presentation, the
remainder of the team was participating in a weekend conference in Hawler (Erbil),
the regional capital city, designed to highlight women’s issues through the
arts.  The members stayed at the home of Mennonite Central Committee
workers and traveled to several venues for workshops, panel discussions and art

Relationship with local Christian community: Team members continued
to develop relationship with the local Christian community in the Chaldean
Catholic Church. 

Action at KRG Parliament: The team conducted an action at the
Kurdistan Regional Government Parliament in the capital city.  The
two-hour presence urged parliamentarians to take action to end and prevent
future bombing and shelling campaigns along the Iraqi border with Turkey and
Iran.  While there, the team distributed a report recently published by
the Federation of NGOs in Sulaimaniya detailing disruptions caused by attacks
of this past spring and summer.

Visit to family of detainee: Members of the team visited with the
family of a person being detained because of his involvement in a recent
protest of unjust policies promoted by governmental leadership.  The
following week, two team members joined the family and a large group of supporters
to visit the individual in the center where he is confined. 

Survey on border attacks: Throughout the month, the team continued
to structure and refine the results of the survey previously conducted to
report the opinions of residents about the nature and management of the recurring
attacks along the Iraqi border with Turkey and Iran.  The team plans to
present the compiled survey results early next month in a press conference
hosted by the Culture Cafe. 



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