IRAQI KURDISTAN: June 2015 newsletter


17 June 2015
IRAQI KURDISTAN: June 2015 newsletter


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JUNE 2015

Iraqi Kurdistan

Teenage Resistance to Oil Extraction

     “These are my fields and these are my guests”, 14 year old  Ibrahim spoke boldly to the security guard who blocked the way leading to the oil field near the tiny Kurdish village of Haji Ahmed.  He and his younger brother Zaid sat on the bus with CPT delegates waiting to be able to look at their vineyards as well as the oil exploration site.
      As we planned the visit we had discovered that our friend, Kak Mirro, was serving his peshmerga time on the front against IS but his teenage sons were quite willing to show us around. We knew that the bus would not be able to navigate the tortuous farm road and so wondered how we would be able to overlook the fields. However, we were very surprised when Ibrahim guided the driver onto the paved road and up to the guard cabin with the barrier stretched across the entrance. The discussion began with Ibrahim’s definitive statement. There seemed to be no doubt in his mind that his right was to show his guests the land and crops.  Finally after much conversation and an obligatory scribing of all our names we were allowed to pass. Ibrahim and Zaid were grinning from ear to ear and did not stop until we had passed the exploration site and moved on to the vineyards covered with small green, unripe grapes.
     CPT Iraqi Kurdistan has walked alongside the members of the village Haji Ahmed since 2013 when we heard word of their resistance to Exxon Mobil’s oil exploration activities. We created a video “Voice of the People” https: telling the story of the villages nearby the site. CPT has raised the voices of the villagers by bringing media attention and accompanying their visits to parliamentarians and government officials. We have watched the oil rig activities, from afar, with the boys’ father, Kak Mirro, many times. This day we witnessed the firm resolve of the next generation.
     As we passed the deep excavations of the site we noticed that the tall drill was dismantled and gone. Huge white plastic tarps covered the mound and the only people there, other than us, were two guards in small huts. We don’t know what the next step is for the extraction. We know that they have struck oil. We assume that the crude will wait underground until the time is right to begin work again.
      These young men know very well how the oil has affected life in their village. They showed us the damage to fruit trees caused by the extreme heat of the burning gas, three months earlier. They have smelled the oil reek that permeated the valley. They have sat through many meetings with the villagers and CPT discussing next steps and strategies. Now, they have taken on the task of resisting in the way that is available at this stage. They brought a busload of twelve foreigners and three Kurds to the fields that represent their livelihood. They insisted and succeeded. That is resistance.

Ezidi Young Adults Working for their Community

At  Sharya IDP camp near Dohuk, home to 40,000 displaced Ezidi people,  the  CPT  delegation met a deeply inspiring group of Ezidi young adult activists and community organizers: three women and three men. Together, they voluntarily run a community center project partially supported by  Alind, a CPT partner organization. After these young people fled ISIS  and  exchanged their homes and lives in Sinjar (Shingal) for tents in a camp, they did not want to just sit back. They began to organize themselves to serve their community through offering psycho-social support, activities with children, various trainings and community work. They continue doing so even despite the fact that the funding from a major aid agency ran out. In these hot summer months they must buy water for the participants from their own pockets. We are very thankful for the opportunity to move together beyond the veil of what our CPT mandate is (and is not) and experience a deep inter-human connection. In the narrative where Yazidi people are mainly portrayed as uneducated, poor and victims, and in the camps where jobs are often given to non-Ezidis, the group members’ agency and commitment will hopefully encourage and inspire others.

Celebration to Conclude Children’s project

The members of the delegation added their talents to plan the party to celebrate the achievements of the Children’s project. The Family Centre  in Rapareen, Sulaimani offered their facility as the venue. Children from the various displaced communities: Iraqi Christian and Arab, Syrian Kurdish and Arab, Ezidi, and from the Kurdish host community came together.  These children, who had participated in the CPT experiential project exploring ways to build peace, joined  to view their artwork, play many games and feast on delicious food. To conclude the event all fifty children drew together a 10 meter long picture depicting their images of What is peace.

Bazian Community Centre Psycho-social Newspaper

As a conclusion to the eight week psycho-social program that CPT co-facilitated in partnership with REACH, the participants created and printed a newspaper. They wanted to spread the news that friendship among different cultures is possible. Throughout the eight weeks of group work we focused on building trust, shared responsibilities and learning the importance of co-operation between cultures. We have come to realize and want to share the news that we are one family living under one sky.


Next Steps in Alternatives to Violence Project

In March CPT Iraqi Kurdistan facilitated and participated in the first 60 hour AVP training in this region. Now, in June we worked together with newly trained facilitators to guide young people in two  one day workshops. The participants, members of refugee, IDP and host communities, have encountered much distress as the result of severe tensions between the groups. In the workshops the participants have experienced how they can overcome cultural, language and gender barriers  to listen and understand the situation of each other.  A young Syrian Kurdish woman said, “We learned that they (Iraqi Kurds) don’t hate us  and if we just get to know each other we can be friends”. At the end of the day they asked for more.


 CPT  Iraqi Kurdistan Delegation
                  June 2015

June 2-11 saw three delegates and leader, Terra Winston join CPT Iraqi Kurdistan for a delegation. The days were full and the activities varied.  Most of the the team joined the  visitors to travel north to Dohuk area to visit a community of Ezidis who are still living in unfinished houses. We had the privilege of touring the sacred place for Ezidis, Lalish, where we were welcomed and experienced the hospitality given to visitors of all faiths. In Sulaimai we heard stories from several partners of CPT IK and visited the Anfal memorial museum , Amna Sureke.

Report on communal tensions and ethno-religious discrimination
in Arbat IDP Camp

After the team spent many weeks speaking to representatives from every group in Arbat IDP camp, our report is complete. The findings of the report are very sensitive and might cause an escalation of camp tensions. Therefore the report is not public. Team shared it with care with the UNHCR officials and several other people and agencies who we hope could commit to working on strategies to alleviate the causes of  these tensions.

New water tank for CPT roof

When CPT Iraqi Kurdstan moved into this house in Rizgari Taze, Sulaimani in 2007 there were two water tanks on the roof. These containers have received and stored city water every 2-3 days.  After  8 years of constant use the old water tanks were a mess with much mud on the bottom  and one of them was leaking. It was  time to buy a new big one, to have more and cleaner water. Thanks to God for the ones who donate to CPT so we can have clean plentiful water.








       AUGUST 28 – SEPTEMBER 10

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Mission: Christian Peacemaker Teams: Building partnerships to transform violence and oppression. Vision: A world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. Values: Christian Peacemaker Teams is committed to work and relationships that: Honor and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality; Strengthen grassroots initiatives; Transform structures of domination and oppression; Embody creative non-violence and liberating love.

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Cost of water tank:$300
Two men hauling water tank onto roof and installing: $200
Cost of water and purifying filters for one year : $200