10 May 2011

Members of the team
participated in Holy Week and Easter services with the Christian communities of
St Joseph Church in Suleimaniya and Virgin Mary Church in Kirkuk.  Both
conducted ceremonies team members had not encountered before.

The two-hour Holy
Friday service in Suleimaniya ended with a funeral procession that featured a
board covered with flowers being shouldered from the front of the sanctuary
down the aisle and out the front door.  Afterward Muslim neighbors shared with the team their belief
that Jesus had not really been crucified but rather someone had taken his place
at the final moment

Easter morning service at the Chaldean Church in Kirkuk

The early morning
Easter service in Kirkuk featured a role-play during the festive celebration.
 Two priests challenged and pushed at each other up and down the center
aisle for ten minutes of give and take, each in turn reciting a charge to the
other.  The contest ended when one of the priests withdrew a cross from
underneath his vestments and subdued the other who knelt in submission.

The warmest moment
came after the Easter service had ended.  The team was standing with
others outside the church building.  Many persons came to greet and
welcome them.  One woman  approached the team with a gracious on her
face, exclaiming, “Merry Christmas!”

The team continues to
keep the vulnerable fate of the border villagers before Kurdistan Regional
Government (KRG) Parliamentarians, government officials, and the public
awareness.  Since no attacks had affected these border residents recently,
the team worked to prevent any disruption of village life along the borders of
Turkey and Iran with Iraq for the entire year.

In the regional
capitol of Erbil/Hawler, the team conducted an action at the entrance to KRG
Parliament facilities with banners, posters, and a flyer with a message and a
photo of Internally Displaced Persons in the riverbed camp they were forced
into last spring.  At the Turkish
and Iranian consulates, also in Erbil/Hawler, the team explained that
suspending attacks on villages for the entire year would be a courageous and
compassionate response by powerful governments to the challenges they recognize
in the continuing struggle to secure their national sovereignty.

Kurdish MPs were
reminded that “Iranian shelling destroys village life” and
“Turkish bombing murders people” and encouraged nonviolently to take action to prot
ect their people

team followed several sessions of the trial of Ibrahim Kaka Hama who was
arrested on the charge of inciting the killing of a policeman during a
demonstration in Halabja on 20 March 2011.  The team composed an open
letter urging judicial officials to let prevailing evidence expeditiously
dispose of the case.  The team distributed the letter to more than 500
contacts but it received little attention by the media.  Later the team
learned that the Ministry of Justice had instructed the media it should “not report
any concerns about the trial that arose from within the community, as it would
complicate the trial process.”

At the ninth sitting,
the court did make a final ruling: Kaka Hama was pronounced “not guilty” and
returned to his family and home town of Halabja, where he entered into the
drama of processing the seven months he had spent in prison without any
evidence to support his arrest.

Sunnah’s schoolgirls explain to a team
member the features of the local landscape

The team arranged a
follow-on visit to the border village of Sunnah.  Residents, teachers, and students eagerly welcomed them and
gave ample resources for the team’s video project to highlight the lives the
village children disrupted by the bombing and shelling of villages near the
border.  While there, team members
could hear a few blasts in the mountains nearby.  At one point Turkish
fighter jets suddenly roared overhead, and a calm community suddenly braced for
the possibility of having to endure yet another violent intrusion into their
cherished and otherwise serene lifestyle.


The English teacher
in Sunnah hosting CPT members during his class: a way for local students to
use their English with internationals and a way for CPTers to become
acquainted with people in Sunnah.

The Human Rights
Committee of the KRG Parliament honored the promise they had made during a
meeting with Kaka Bapir, the Basta village mayor, and the team  in January.  They completed the
long and rugged journey to the village of Basta in the Pshdar district that
borders with Iran.  For seven
consecutive years, attacks by Turkey and Iran have forced residents of Basta
and nearby villages to evacuate their homes, leaving behind them maturing crops
and flocks and herds of animals. Residents explained to committee members the
tragic consequences of their absence from their homes during this critical
growing season.  They pleaded with parliamentarians to work to provide
them security so they might safely continue their chosen way of life throughout
the entire year.

23 April, the team responded to a request to accompany a community activist to
the one-year anniversary memorial service for a demonstrator slain in a protest
in Suleimaniya last spring.  She thanked the team for attending the event
with her and commented, “I would not have come here by myself.  There are
many others who would like to be here also but they are afraid they would be
arrested if they were present.”


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