IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWSLETTER: Spring 2017- Border Bombing, Oil Issues and more!!



Iraqi Kurdistan

We wish all of our Muslim teammates, CPTers, Supporters and friends a happy Ramadan. 
Border Bombing
After the peace agreement broke between the Turkish state and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2015, Turkey has regularly bombed villages in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turkish state claims they are only targeting the PKK. However, Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT-IK) has visited many of these villages and documented that Turkish warplanes have not just bombed PKK but have also bombed villages and surrounding areas, including burning many vineyards,orchards, and grazing lands. Furthermore, there have been civilian casualties and many villagers have lost their animals and sources of income. The bombings continue to this day and the CPT IK team continues to investigate and document Turkey’s bombing violations. The team has written many stories about Kurdish civilians who have been heavily impacted by the bombardments, including a story in May of this year about Turkey’s bombing near the village of Murkijea. 
Kak Bapir from Basta vilage hosted Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT) at his home. 
Kak Bapir (right) talking with Michele Naar-Obed (left) and CPT member Latif Hars (center) about Turkish bombardments in the Basta region. Photo by: Gabe Soares
Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT IK) team members with Michelle Naar Obed visited one of our partners, Kak Bapir from Basta village. Basta has long been impacted by the bombardment from both the Turkish and Iranian governments. Kak Bapir told CPTers that they are still being bombed by the Turkish government and expressed his wish that the bloody bombardments would stop. Kak Bapir told the story of the villagers from Basta and how their way of life is being disrupted by the ongoing bombardments. He asked that CPT help amplify their voices to make the international community aware of their plight and to accompany them to find new ways to ask the Turkish state to stop these bombardments so that villagers from Basta can live in peace. 
As adults, we are just afraid for our children
By Julie Brown
Kak Najib showing the historical map of his village’s land to CPTers. Photo by: Julie Brown.
In November the Turkish Government dropped a barrage of bombs on the area surrounding this small village Kak Nagib, the Mukhtar (village leader) of Merkajia, told CPT. When the first bombs fell it was in the evening Kak Najib was in his house with his family.  He explained that at first they stayed inside their home and took shelter but as the bombs continued to fall they went outside afraid that one would hit the house and it would collapse on his family.  The women and children were sent from the village and only the men stayed behind to protect their homes and property. “As Assyrians we believe that we will die one day and that we should not be afraid of death. I have seen many wars, Saddam forced me to go to Kuwait.  As adults, we are just afraid for our children,” he explained. Read the full story here.
Oil Issues
Many villagers have been struggling with so many oil companies coming to Iraqi Kurdistan and confiscating their lands. Grassroots movements in those areas have organized themselves to resist the oil companies non-violently. Christian Peacemaker Teams – Iraq Kurdistan (CPT-IK) has documented many such violations and works closely with the villagers in their struggle for their rights. Over the past few years, some of these nonviolent resistance movements have stopped oil companies from drilling for oil in their area. However, many are still trying to find ways to convince oil companies to respect their rights and stop their harmful activities on or near villagers’ land. Unfortunately, the oil corporations have not responded to many of the villagers’ demands and continue to confiscate their lands and violate their rights. Furthermore, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraqi Kurdistan has shown no support for the villagers but give their full support to the oil companies. The villagers hope that the oil companies stop their harmful activities and that their own government actively supports their rights that are being violated by the oil corporations. 
Flames of fire in the distance from the Dana Gas company on land that has been taken from Kormor villagers.
Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Drying up Kormor’s water of life 
By Weldon Nisly
Kormor’s springs flowed with the water of life until Dana Gas arrived. Showing no concern for village water and life, Dana drilled a deep well to draw the water they needed to pump oil and gas out of the ground. Kormor’s water of life was sacrificed to the insatiable corporate thirst for profit and global thirst for energy. Read the full story here.
CPT Iraqi Kurdistan spring delegation visiting the cemetery of victims of the gas attack by Saddam Hussein in Halabja city. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir 
Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT-IK) hosted its spring 2017 delegation in the Kurdish region of Iraq. CPT’s delegates came from various countries to learn about CPT partners and the work that CPT is doing. The delegation was very fruitful and were warmly welcomed by CPTers and their partners. The delegates were told by many of our partners to take their stories back home and tell them to their families, communities, and country. The delegates promised that they would carefully tell the CPT partners’ stories and work hard to make the international community aware of what people are going through here in Iraqi Kurdistan. Below are photos of some of encounters the delegates experienced during their two-week delegation in May.
CPTers talking with CPT delegates about villages that have been impacted by bombardments from both Turkish and Iranian governments. Photo by: Nancy Mancias
CPT’s partner Ann J Ward talking to the delegates about the situation of Internally Displaced Peoples and Refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan as well as peace work in the region. Photo by: Nancy Mancias
Dr. Choman Hardi telling delegates about the effects of genocide (Anfal) suffered by Kurdish people. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir.
The Iraqi Kurdistan spring delegation visiting the National Museum called Amna Suraka in the city of Sulaimani to learn about Kurdish people who were imprisoned by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Photo by: Nancy Mancias
The delegates and residents of Ashti camp close to Sulaimani city meet to share stories. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
The Iraqi Kurdistan spring delegation visited one of the ancient sites in Amedi city. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
CPTers telling delegates how oil drilling impacts villagers who struggle for justice nonviolently in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by: Nancy Mancias
The delegates were hosted by a youth group in the city of Duhok to talk about the youth’s peace work in the region. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Father Jens and sister Frederika from Deir Maryam Al-Aladhra Catholic Monastery in the city of Sulaimani during the delegates visit. Photo by: Daan Savert
WOLA Organization hosted the CPT spring delegation to talk about women rights and WOLA’s work in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
CPT delegates hiking on the mountain above Gullan village, the home village of Latif Hars, CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team member. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Kak Bapir from Basta village invited Iraqi Kurdistan spring delegation to learn more about cross border bombing by both the Turkish and Iranian governments. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Kak Bapir’s daughter talking to one of the delegates in Basta village. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir.
Take ownership of your home
Kak Bapir welcoming CPTers at his home village. Photo by: Daan Savert
On Monday May 15th, we as delegates of the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan spring delegation visited Basta, one of the 63 villages in the Pishdar region of Iraqi Kurdistan. We were welcomed by the village leader Kak Bapir and his family. “The people of CPT are no longer guests here,” Kak Bapir said. “So take ownership of your home.”

The civilians of the Pishdar region were displaced during the regime of Saddam Hussein. After the fall of the Ba’ath regime in 2003 the people were glad to come home again. But in 2007 a new period of misery started, when both the Turkish and the Iranian government started to bomb the region. In 2012 Iran stopped bombing, but until today Turkey has continuously been bombing the Pishdar district. The latest bombing took place on April 6, 2017. Read the full story written by one of the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan’s spring delegates here.

Undoing Oppression
Dr. Choman Hardi and CPTer Julie Brown talking during the delegation’s Concentric Circle exercise. Photo by: CPT 
Dr. Choman Hardi from the The Center for Gender and Development Studies at the American of University of Iraq invited CPT to facilitate an undoing oppression workshop for twenty students. CPTers facilitated a two day workshop on undoing sexism and racism.

The students were excited to be part of this great experience and shared openly about their struggles as women and minorities. They also reflected on the notion of being oppressed and becoming oppressors when the power dynamics change. 

CPTers along with the students went on a journey to understand the nature of oppression by facilitating various exercises. Furthermore, they worked together with the students to discover ways that they could be in solidarity with people who are oppressed by sexism and racism. 

CPT will be leading a 9 day long AVP workshop at the same center in the very near future. To learn more about Dr. Choman Hardi and the Center for Gender and Development Studies click on the following links. 
Dr. Choman Hardi
The Center for Gender and Development Studies.

Students reflecting on the women who have inspired their lives. Photo by: Zhiar Abdulkarim
The participants debriefing the nonviolent training exercise. Photo by: Zhiar Abdulkarim.
The walk of privilege exercise with the students of the American University of Iraq – Sulaimani. Photo by: Zhiar Abdulkarim.
Closing the day by appreciating each other’s presence. Photo by: Zhiar Abdulkarim.
The Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP)
The new facilitators after practicing ”Transforming Power” exercise. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Christian Peacemaker Teams – Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT-IK), in collaboration with Ann J Ward (Peace-building adviser to Un Ponte Per) and Nicky Melling, facilitated an exciting Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) training for facilitators (T4F), at the University of Duhok in late March. This workshop was organized by the University of Duhok Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies and was funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

We had previously facilitated both the Basic and Advanced workshops at University of Duhok. This time we were asked to facilitate a training for facilitators workshop to give the opportunity to youth there to facilitate this workshop with other people in Duhok and liberated areas around Mosul province. Twelve students and non students from various backgrounds, ages, ethnic groups and religions came back to take part in the AVP Training for Facilitators workshop. We are happy to report that these 12 new facilitators in the province of Duhok have been trained. These new facilitators are excited that they are ready to lead more AVP workshops in collaboration with CPT and Ann.  

The workshop focused on training new facilitators to lead exercises related to community building, transforming power, communication skills, power and oppression. It also helped build facilitation and process skills as well as other skills that are important for facilitators of AVP workshops. 

Throughout the workshop, participants facilitated many exercises and activities to help them become well prepared for the workshops that they will be leading in the future. Furthermore, they engaged in activities that gave them a chance to enhance their skills in running and facilitating workshops. CPT, Ann, Nicky and the Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution in collaboration with 12 new facilitators will be facilitating more workshops in the upcoming weeks in different parts of the Duhok province and surrounding areas.

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 helps people to discover their internal causes for anger and violence.  

The participants during a ”Light & Lively” exercise. Photo by: Ann J Ward
The participants facilitating their first exercise. Photo by: Ann J Ward.
The participants doing a role play during their ”Transforming Power” exercise. Photo by: Ann J Ward
New AVP facilitators sing together as they close their sessions. Photo by: Ann J Ward
AVP participants celebrating their graduation. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Piroze. Celebrating their graduation. Photo by: Ann J Ward.
Twelve new facilitators are hoored. Photo by: Ann J Ward
Newroz Piroz Bet, Happy Bellated Newroz
Newroz celebration in Amed, Kurdish region of Turkey. Photo by: Kasia Protz
Many people from different corners of the planet, including Kurds, come together to celebrate the new year of Newroz. Kurds are among those who gather for this significant celebration. Newroz is a Symbolic year for many who celebrate it as year of freedom, culture, peace, and resistance. Kurdish people in Turkey, Syria and Iran as well as Iraq celebrate it differently as they are suffering from oppressive political Systems. Therefore, Kurds decided to come together on the first day of the year, March 21, 2017, to come up with a platform to peacefully resist the current oppressive political systems.

Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT-IK) had the privilege to travel to Amed, the biggest Kurdish city in Turkey. to join the celebration of Newroz. CPT visited Amed to stand in solidarity with millions of people who took to the streets of Amed with hope for a better future. We pray for the Kurds and hold them in our thoughts, especially those who are trying to resist oppressive political systems non-violently with their smiles. Happy 2717 Newroz.  

CPTers celebrating Newroz in Kurdish costumes with people in Amed, Turkey. Photo by: Gabe
A Kurdish women hopping for freedom and justice in Amed, Turkey. Photo by: Julie Brown
CPT Team celebrates Nerwoz in solidarity with Kurds in Turkey. 
By CPT Iraqi Kurdistan Team
People celebrate Newroz in Amed, Kurdish region of Turkey. Photo by: Julie Brown.
“We are the people of Kurdistan,” echoes from the many powerful amplifiers throughout the enormous park. “We are the people of Kurdistan!” hundreds of thousands voices respond in one voice and shake the earth and our hearts. The powerful chant together with the dark smoke of the Newroz yellow-red fire rise towards the cloudy sky where a police helicopter circles around. A kaleidoscope of colors of traditional Kurdish dresses, scarves and flags coalesce into a dance. It is the 21st of March and our Iraqi Kurdistan team stands witness to this deeply special moment with the multitude greater than I have ever seen in my life. Read the full story here.
Recommended Reading

Newroz becomes opportunity for dialogue in Iraq 


Iraqi Kurds play music as they walk through the town of Akra, Iraq, on March 20, 2017. (photo by Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

This social dialogue initiative is the first overt activity by the Baha’is in Baghdad after a decades long ban on their activities. “This is the first time in 40 years Baha’is could celebrate overtly. Our celebration comes finally after a lifelong ban on our activities under a decree issued by the Revolutionary Command Council during the Baathist era in 1970. Back then, we could not celebrate this holiday with the rest of the components of the Iraqi society,” Diaa Yaaqoub, a Baghdad-based Baha’i, told Al-Monitor. Read the full article here.

Join our next delegation, 10-23 September. Click here to find out more

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