Prayers for Peacemakers, 2 November 2017
Pray that the new path that Iraq and other countries forced Kurdistan to undertake will not lead to spiraling violence, but rather guide its people to new structures of life and sustainable freedom.
There is very little hope left in Iraqi Kurdistan. In a month since the referendum on independence, Kurdish people in Iraq lost most of what they have struggled for and gained in 25 years. To punish people who voted in an overwhelming majority that one day they would like to live in an independent country, the Iraqi military alongside brutal militia forces supported by Turkey and Iran invaded and took control of around 50% of the territory Kurdish forces controlled. The reports speak of killed civilians, rape of a mother and daughter, arbitrary arrest of youth, destroyed and pillaged Kurdish homes, and mass displacement. The militias presence threatens also Christian and Yezidi peoples who have just recently returned from their exile caused by ISIS to rebuild their towns.
To isolate Kurdistan and further instill its dominance, Iraq banned all international flights to/from Kurdistan and took control over the land border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria. Turkish airstrikes in the border regions continue to endanger shepherds and farmers. CPT partners fled their villages because of massive Iranian troops movements in the mountains.
The silence and seeming approval of the USA and other foreign powers shocked, and broke hearts of, our partners and friends. Many people blame Massoud Barzani – since two days ago, a former president of Iraqi Kurdistan – for the downfall due to his role in the referendum process and inability to create a united and inclusive government. On the other hand, Barzani’s supporters attacked the Parliament building, wounded journalists and torched offices of rival political parties. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams fear an ignition of a civil war between different Kurdistan’s parties and fractions.
As people of peace around the world, let us pray and engage with even more energy in the work for peace. Not a peace that would uphold the oppressive structures and attitudes, dominance or status quo. But peace that will become a moving force of liberation of hearts and minds, of people’s dreams, and of land. Let us pray that hostilities between the Iraqi and the Kurdish armies, as well as among various fractions cease. Let us pray for protection of families and communities at risk of being targeted by armed groups. Let us demand that Iraq, the USA, and other powerful governments support the peoples’ aspirations for self-governance and dreams of freedom. Please pray for the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team and its partners in these difficult times. New hope has emerged that this new order would ignite new lights of transformation for Kurdistan and its internal structures; that new Kurdistan will rise from the ashes of the old.