IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: November 2016 — Teachers’ strike continues despite arrests, nonviolent resistance against Dana Gas, Duhok university students experience AVP and more…

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CPTnet
17 December 2016
IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: November
2016 — Teachers strike continues despite arrests, nonviolent
resistance against Dana Gas, Duhok university students experience AVP
and more…

 
 
November 2016
 

Iraqi Kurdistan

 
Demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan
Awat Hassan talking to CPTers at his home. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir

Awat Hassan continues to be the voice of change among ongoing death threats 

Awat
Hassan Abdulla is a civil society activist and one of the main
organizers of the teachers’ protests that are currently happening in the
city of Sulaimani. Since the beginning of the school year in September
2016, the teachers are on a strike and demand that their full wages be
paid and that the government sector will stop and deal with its internal
corruption. The schools and universities remain closed until now.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an international human rights
organization, have been in contact with Mr. Awat Hassan Abdulla and his
family, who requested that we accompany them. Mr. Awat and his family
have been receiving threats and following a series of violent detentions
and beatings by the Security forces (Asaish), the last one took place
on the 1 December 2016, he and his family fear for their safety and
lives. CPT agreed to accompany him and his family.

Read the full report here.

Demonstrations continue
Iraqi
Kurdistan has been facing the biggest crisis in the history of the
region for almost two years. The regional government have shut down
public service projects and have not been able to pay the full wages of
it is own employees. Furthermore, there are many other political
problems that had made it difficult for the government to work.
Therefore, the workers in the city of Sulaimani and surrounding areas
have peacefully protested for more than a year. The teachers have closed
the doors of their schools and universities. In the latest
demonstrations, the students and workers from other governmental
institutions had joined the demonstration in the hope that the
government would respond to their demands, they are demanding for their
full salaries to be paid and to stop corruption in the public sector.

The workers from the city of Erbil and Duhok also tried to demonstrate
for their basic rights. The security forces soon ended those
demonstrations and have arrested and beaten many civil society activists
as well as workers.

We will share more updates with you about the demonstrations and Iraqi Kurdistan Region’s situation in the upcoming newsletter.  

Teachers marching to governor’s office in the city of Sulaimani. Photo by: Kasia Protz.
Students emphasized that it is important for them to stand with their teachers. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir.
Protesters gathered in front of the directory of education in Sulaimani . Photo by: Kasia Protz.
A short film on the government workers demonstration in Iraqi Kurdistan in the city of Sulaimani.


Video by: CPT – Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Teachers
and other government employees organized the biggest
demonstration demanding for their full salaries and to stop the
corruption in the government sector.  ”This is a victory for
us. Teachers brought many employees from different governmental
institutions to protest for their basic rights that had been denied by
the government” said one of the teachers.

CPT continues to accompany the teachers who committed to keep the demonstrations nonviolent. The security
forces tried to end the protests but teachers emphasized that they
cannot open their schools until their demands are meet.  

 
Oil Issues 

Kormori Bchwk – the Forgotten Village

The villagers of Kormor talking to CPTers about oil issues in the village. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir

“They
promised us many job opportunities and a better road. However only two
men were hired over the last two years. Most of us have to work outside
the village now, we were hoping for jobs with Dana Gas but they lied to
us!”

Five
other men nod in affirmation as Kak Hassan tells the CPT team of three
of the hardships his community faces daily from the presence of their
unwanted powerful neighbor. Kormori Bchwk (Small Kormor) is a remote
village of 22 families, seven out of which live there permanently and
fifteen seasonally. It is not easy to find Kormor, especially coming
from Sulaimani, which lies some two and half hours of drive away. It is
surrounded by thousands of low treeless hills stretching for miles in
all directions and towards the nearby unclear borderline between
Kurdistan and what is left of Iraq and just a recent front-line against
Daesh (ISIS). This scarcely populated area which Saddam Hussein turned
into an example of his commitment to genocide Kurds, falls under the
sphere of administration of the district mayor of Chamchamal, which lies
some 90 km away, and  under the sub-district mayor of the nearest town
of Qadir Karam.

Read the full report here

 
Workshops
The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) 
Feelings and Faces Exercise at the University of Duhok. Photo by: Ann J Ward. 

At
the end of November Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) facilitated
Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop in collaboration with
Ann J Ward which was organized by the University of Duhok Center for
Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies. The workshop was funded by UNDP.

Twenty three participants from different cultural, religious, ethnic
backgrounds and ages took part in the workshop. Some of them were
students of Duhok University and many from different local NGOs. They
found the workshop to be life changing and interesting experience. One
of the participants said: ” I do not have the desire to take part in
any workshops because they can be very boring, but the Alternatives to
Violence Project (AVP) workshop has been an amazing journey and life
changing experience”

We spend a lot of time during the workshop on learning how to recognize
our feelings which can be beneficial in solving problems and conflicts.
Some participants said that it was very difficult to talk about their
feelings due to cultural and traditional barriers. One of the young
female participants said, “It’s very beautiful that I can share and I
feel there is no harm.”

Throughout
the workshop, the participants did many practical and experiential
exercises to learn about listening, feelings and non- violent skills to
respond to violence and anger. It also created a space for participants
from both host community, Internally Displaced People (IDP) and Refugees
to talk about integration, racism and daily challenges that they are
facing in Kurdistan Region – Iraq. CPT will continue to facilitate more
similar workshops in the upcoming weeks.

Alternative
to Violence Project (AVP) is a workshop that teaches participants
through real life experiences to resolve conflicts without violence and
manipulation as well as it helps them to discover their internal causes
for violence and anger.

Participants preparing themselves for one of the exercises at the University of Duhok. Photo by: Ann J Ward. 
One
of the participants sharing her feelings during feeling and faces
exercise at the University of Duhok. Photo by: Ann J Ward. 
Participants practicing their listening skills at the University of Duhok. Photo by: Ann J Ward.
Ann J Ward ending the workshop at the University of Duhok. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir. 
Grassroots in collaboration to learn about grant writing and program support. 

Recently
CPT organised a Grant Proposal writing workshop with Ann J Ward for
local grassroot initiatives and NGOs. During the three evenings of the
workshop, the participants not only gained wide knowledge of proposal
writing but more importantly this workshop created a space for many
discussions and collaborations between different organisations to find
new ways to widen and enhance their peace work. The different grass-roots
initiatives were able to cooperate together and collaborate on new
ideas especially focusing on the situation of Internally Displaced
Persons (IDPs) in the camps around the city of Duhok.

During
this workshop there were many interesting discussions being held which
led to creation of new ideas and hopefully new collaborations between
the participants. One of them said ” This workshop was not just
learning about grant writing or how to support the program, it was
collaboration and getting to know our counterparts who are doing amazing
work inside the camps. We hope that we all can work together to deliver
our work collectively.”  

As
CPT and participants were very excited about the partnerships and
collaborations and gained a lot of new knowledge from this workshop, CPT
will continue to closely work with those and other local initiatives in
the Kurdistan Region – Iraq.

Ann J Ward working with participants to learn more about program support and grant writing. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir. 
Participants
from Sunrise explaining their work and the problems that youth are
facing inside the camps. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir.
 
Recommended Reading

Turkey: Curfews and crackdown force hundreds of thousands of Kurds from their homes

Photo: Amnesty International 

Tens
of thousands of residents of the UNESCO world heritage site of Sur are
among an estimated half a million people forced out of their homes as a
result of a brutal crackdown by Turkish authorities over the past year
which may amount to collective punishment, said Amnesty International in
a new report.

Read Amnesty International’s full report here

Photo by: GUY Martin/Panos

TURKEY: DISPLACED AND DISPOSSESSED

In
July 2016, as part of a crackdown in the wake of a violent coup
attempt, the authorities began targeting opposition Kurdish voices,
closing down hundreds of media outlets and other organisations and
replacing elected officials with government-appointed trustees.

Read Amnesty International’s full report here

 
CONNECT WITH US AND GET INVOLVED

We need your support to continue doing this work. Please consider donating to cover: 
$25 – Food for the team for one day

$50 – Day trip to accompany human rights activists and civil society members who are at risk.
$100 – Support for a local delegation participant

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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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