16 October 2017
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Mobilize for Peace Now!
On October 16,
2017, fighting broke out between Iraqi and Iranian militaries against
the Iraqi Kurdistan forces along a new frontline in the oil-rich town
district of Kirkuk. Reports of the violent clashes as well as the dead
and wounded have reached across the globe. This is only the most recent
escalation in violence and sanctions against the people of Iraqi
The effects of decades of war can be felt deeply
throughout Iraqi Kurdistan while the region is still engaged in a battle
against ISIS. Bombs and mortars still hit mountain villages in border
areas where a thirty-year war continues to rage on between armed Kurdish
fighters and the neighboring governments of Turkey and Iran. The
landscape is dotted with camps housing people who fled war against ISIS
while Iraqi Kurdistan is in the midst of a dire economic crisis
drastically impacting its citizens. Memories of a lifetime of wars and
sanctions live within the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. Saddam Hussein’s
campaign of genocide alone killed more than a 100,000 Kurdish civilians.
On September 25, 2017 the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan
held a referendum to separate from Iraq. The outcome was an
overwhelming majority voting for an independent Kurdistan. Since then,
talks between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the governments of
Iraq, Turkey and Iran have been focused on the timing and legitimacy of
the referendum. Foreign troops have mobilized along borders of Iraqi
Kurdistan as war drums echo loudly.
Iraqi forces advance on Kirkuk, photo: dw.com / Getty Images/AFP/A. Al-Rubaye
We as CPT have stated that
we held no position on the outcome of the referendum vote. We also
believe the results can not go unrecognized. Over 90 percent of the
citizens voting within Iraqi Kurdistan were in favor of independence.
This is a clear sign of the people’s will for self determination. Moving
forward, the Iraqi Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional
Government should engage in dialogue with the goal of developing a
roadmap that does not undermine the will of the people and helps sustain
peace. As Iraq holds a wealth of resources, we would only encourage
solutions that are truly for the local people and not those crafted for
the benefit of government leaders and foreign interests. Furthermore,
this roadmap should be supported by neighboring countries as well as the
As Christian Peacemaker Teams we
condemn the violence and military actions against Iraqi Kurdistan. We
also denounce the closing of local airports and borders creating a state
of sanctions. This path of violence and sanctions will only lead to a
large scale humanitarian and human rights crisis for the people living
in this region.
As a human rights organization and member of the international peace community CPT calls on you to act now!
We urge governments and the international community to use nonviolent
means to encourage peace talks and diplomacy and refrain from mobilizing
foreign armies supporting armed conflict.
We ask citizens of the
world to act in solidarity for peace in the region. We urge groups and
individuals to speak out now against this war by holding public actions,
vigils, prayers, any means to encourage dialogue and support the people
of Iraqi Kurdistan and all of Iraq.
Do not let the drumbeats of war rage on. Mobilize for peace now.