IRAQI KURDISTAN: July Update 2015


1 August 2015
IRAQI KURDISTAN:  July Update 2015


JULY 2015

Iraqi Kurdistan

Environmental Servants Group

About a month ago, the team wanted to cool their feet in a river on the way back to the city but couldn’t for all the rubbish and litter that polluted the water. Mohammed had the idea of starting a cleaning action so a few days later, the team and some friends went and cleaned the area. Not only was this event shared by a local TV station, but it also sparked hundreds of comments and as one result, the Environmental Servants Group was founded. By now, they have more than 480 Likes and have participated in two more cleaning actions, one in the mountains and another one in the public park of Suleimani. Each time, Kurds as well as Arabs and some internationals came together to create another facet of peace – to live peaceably with all creation.

Turkey bombing Iraqi-Kurdish border regions after almost three years of armistice

The Suruc suicide bombing (see below) kicked off a chain of incidents which made PKK and Turkey break the delicate truce that was set up in 2012. This quasi- armistice was a great relief for the villagers and farmers in the Kurdish mountains who had suffered greatly during the bombing and shelling especially in the summer times. By now, many of the families have moved back into their homes.
In the picture, you see a mosque which was built in Basta during the hopeful times of the truce.

When the team called the muktar (mayor) of Basta, a friend of CPT, in the last week of July he told them that rockets had come down again. Nobody was hurt but shrapnel could be found in the gardens after the attacks in the night. Now, they have to decide if they should flee the village and seek refuge in the valley.

Windy Days at Arbat Camp

Arbat Camp is a UNHCR camp just 20 km from Suleimani that originally was set up for Syrian refugees in 2013 but now hosts about 17,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in a total of 2109 tents. In the past months CPT-IK has visited the camp multiple times in order to create the internal report mentioned in the June newsletter. When the team visited one of the families last week, after five days of heavy wind, 40 tents had been blown down. It was the Eid of Ramadan, so none of the camp managers were available. The team phoned a friend who works for the UN who herself contacted others so that in the following days, the people in the camp received help to  rebuild and fortify their tents. Also, that friend thought of a solution to provide tools and materials to the IDPs and refugees so they could take care for their tents themselves instead of depending so much on the camp management.

Czech People Learn about Iraqi Kurdistan and CPT Work

Our team member Lukasz Firla spent two weeks in the Czech Republic where he could extensively share with many people about the current situation in Iraqi Kurdistan, work of CPT and ways in which people in Europe can relate to the current crisis. In addition to leading seminars and discussions, Lukas was also interviewed by a regional cable TV station and a country-wide radio station. In the photo, Lukas co-facilitates together with two Kurdish friends one of the discussions of the Meziprostor festival focused on the rapidly rising islamophobia and xenophobia against the refugees arriving in the European Union.

Iraqi Kurdistan to Canada Art Exhibition

CPT team mate Kathy Moorhead Thiessen is collecting paintings. The Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery in Winnipeg, Canada  has invited her to bring 30-50 pieces of art from Iraqi Kurdistan for an  exhibition to inform the public  about Iraqi Kurdistan. She is asking people from various culture groups: children, adults, skilled artists and those who just love to create art to tell their story with paint on paper. Then she will take the paintings in her suitcase to Canada for a six week exhibition from 2 April- 14 May, 2016. 


Persecution of Palestinian Sunnis in Baghdad

There aren’t many Palestinian families anymore in Baghdad, even though in 2003, UNHCR still counted 34,000 individuals. In 2008 it was only 9000 and the numbers are still decreasing. Many of them have fled the rising threats from the Shi’a militia who don’t trust the Sunni foreigners. The Shi’a militia suspect that they support ISIS; they raid their houses for bombs and bomb material and threaten them.
That is what happened to a family the team got to know this last month. CPT- IK reported the case to Amnesty International and also contacted International Organisation for Migration and Human Rights Watch to speak with them. Amnesty replied that this case confirms a development they’ve been following for a while. IOM and HRW wanted to interview the family but by now Muhammad, the one who was threatened the most, has fled the country to evade the persecution he’s expecting even in Iraqi Kurdistan. Right now, CPT IK is staying in contact to follow up their situation.
For full article on Muhammad’s family see here.


Demonstration for Suruc

After the suicide bombing in Suruc, Turkey on July 20, where 32 youth activists were killed, there was a huge outcry in Kurdish communities around the world. In Suleimani, as in many other cities in Kurdistan, Turkey and Europe, people gathered for a demonstration the following day to demonstrate against the violence of ISIS’ash and against the Turkish prime minister Erdogan because he had refused to actively fight Da’ash.
But they also gathered to mourn the deaths of the young people who believed more in hope than in death. The team joined the demonstration to stand with our partners.

Violence of 2003 Laying the Foundation for Current Crisis

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan recently discovered in our files a report by CPT Iraq in January 2004. It is titled, Report and Recommendations on Iraqi Detainees .

“Between May 31 and December 20, 2003, CPT Iraq conducted dozens of interviews of Iraqi detainees and their families and support networks. This report summarizes the findings from seventy-two cases… CPT is particularly concerned that any mistreatment of the Iraqi people could lead to long-term problems including:           
   1. Increasing numbers of Iraqi people joining resistance groups. 2. Increasing danger of attacks against Coalition soldiers. 3. A growing record of human rights violations against the Iraqi people….
 Our conclusion is straightforward: the military actions designed to ensure short-term security are in fact compromising long-term security interests of Iraqis and all internationals…. Developing a process for handling detainee issues that is transparent, efficient, and that upholds basic legal rights is essential for establishing a secure and democratic society…. The (US-led) Coalition Provisional Authority could model the sort of justice system most desirable for a future free, democratic Iraq.”

Now have a look at The Guardian;  ISIS: the inside story—Martin Chulov; 11 December 2014
“There was a huge amount of collective pressure exerted on detainees to become more radical in their beliefs. Obviously, this was supported by the fact that the detainees were being held against their will in a facility with minimal communication with their family and friends. This led to detainees turning to each other for support. If there were radical elements within this support network, there was always the potential that detainees would become more radical in their beliefs.
According to Hisham al-Hashimi, the Baghdad-based analyst, the Iraqi government estimates that 17 of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons between 2004 and 2011.”








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Cost of new car battery:$60
Rent for the CPT house for one month: $700
Kurdish lessons for four team members for one month: $800