12 June 2017
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Drying up Kormor’s Water of Life
by Weldon Nisly
Springs flowed with the
water of life for the village of Kormor. For generations springs supplied
abundant water to sustain Kormor’s people, plants, and animals in this arid
land of the Kirkuk region of Iraqi Kurdistan. No more. All of Kormor’s springs
have dried up. Where cool spring waters once flowed, now only thistles abound
in sun-baked ground.
The flames of fire from the land that has been taken over by
Dana Gas. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
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.
After the U. S. occupation
of Iraq in 2003, Dana Gas arrived in Kormor. With regional and national
political support they confiscated 4,000 dunams of land owned by villagers.
Then they closed off 10 km of road for their own use forcing villagers to drive
40 km around the drilling site over rough roads heavily damaged by the
company’s semi tankers.
Dana Gas built a large
water storage tank just below the village to supply enough water for their own
use. Pumping so much precious water from deep underground quickly lowered the
water table and dried up all the springs of water that sustained life and
livelihood for the villagers. The company provided a much smaller tank and
fills it with water to sustain life for the villagers. But most of the water
goes to the gas and oil company.
Kak Hassan telling CPTers
about his struggle against Dana Gas Company. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir
Kormor village leader and
CPT partner, Kak Hassan invited the spring 2017 CPT delegation to visit their
village to see firsthand the impact of the loss of spring water on the life of
the village. CPTers, Rezhiar Fahkir, Annika Spalde, and Weldon Nisly took the
8-member CPT delegation to visit Kak Hassan in Kormor on May 17. Greeted by Kak
Hassan and his family, the delegation was ushered into their living room and
joined by other villagers. Soon tea and watermelon were served as Kak Hassan began
sharing their struggle for survival in the shadow of Dana Gas with their
springs of living water dried up.
“I welcome you to my
home,” Kak Hassan said to the CPT delegation. “And I thank CPT for
your solidarity with me and the people of Kormor. I am grateful that CPT
accompanied me when I organized a peaceful protest against Dana Gas and was
arrested. CPTers were the only ones who accompanied me in my court trial. Our
peaceful protest demanded jobs, roads, and schools. Unfortunately, neither Dana
Gas nor our government will listen to us. But we are staying here in our home
Kak Mohammed showing the delegates the photos of his land that
has been confiscated by Dana Gas. Photo by: Weldon Nisly.
Kak Mohammed and other
villagers also shared how Dana Gas has affected them and Kormor. Then Kak
Hassan led the CPT delegation on a walking tour to see the dried up springs and
the small water tank that now holds the village’s water supply. In contrast,
just below the village, Dana built a huge square water tank for their own use.
In addition to confiscating their land, closing their road, and drying up their
springs of living water, other consequences of Dana Gas are polluting the air,
letting rubbish litter the landscape, and a huge crack in the village school
caused by the vibration of drilling into the ground. After inflicting so much
harm on the people of Kormor, Dana Gas refuses to give jobs to villagers.
Instead the company hires workers from nearby cities and even from other
countries. At Kak Hassan’s request, CPT promised to investigate Dana Gas
further and explore contacting their headquarters in the United Arab Emirates
in order to amplify the voice of the people of Kormor with the company and with