IRAQI KURDISTAN: You can say we lost our lives–Turkish bombing of Sergali village


26 August 2016

IRAQI KURDISTAN: You can say we lost our lives–Turkish bombing of Sergali village

by Peggy Gish

Hasni Islam and his son show team members Peggy and Mohammed damage to buildings in Sergali. Photo by Julie Brown.

“Back in 1991, Turkey bombed our village of Sergali so
heavily that we left the area,” Hasni Islam, the village leader, told our team.
 He pointed north to the mountain behind which their old village had once
stood.  “Because of the ongoing war between Turkey and the PKK (Kurdistan
Worker’s Party) we couldn’t return to the village area, and so moved to this
site and established it as our new village. But now, two months ago (June
2016), Turkey bombed around the village here, and half of the families fled
again and scattered to other towns. The other half has no other place to go or
the financial means to leave, so are still here, even though they are afraid.”
At one time the village included 350 families, but now there are only forty.

Cracks in walls of houses from bomb blasts. Photo by Julie Brown.

Walking around the current village, Hasni showed us large
cracks in the buildings from the bomb blasts. “Turkey also bombed the water
pipes carrying water from mountain springs to our village, and for two months
we were out of water. Rationing water trucked in by the government made it hard
to keep our gardens and trees watered. We are thankful that the attacks have
not killed or injured our people, but the loss of at least 800 dunums of
orchards, vineyards, and cropland has been devastating.  Life in our villages
without agriculture is not life,” he told us, “so you can say we have lost our

A group of children gathered together with Hasni’s son under
a large tree finding respite from the hot mid-day heat. We heard again what we
had in every village we had visited. “This is hardest for the children!” They
explained that the difficulties the children were experiencing stemmed not only
from trauma they are left with from the bombings and having to flee their
homes, but also the loss of the village life that, for most of them, would be
their future.

Julie Brown with children in Sergali. Photo by Peggy Gish.

Hasni and the other villagers share the aspirations of the
Kurdish people to gain their rights and maintain their cultural heritage, but
they feel caught in this decade-long struggle between the PKK and Turkey. When
we were sitting down, he took his granddaughter on his lap and said, “She is
innocent.  What has she done to deserve what Turkey is doing?  We
wish this war would come to an end.  But there has to be dialogue to find
peace.  We will never resolve this by war.”

Hasni Islam with grandchild  Photo by Rezhiar Fakhir
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