IRAQI KURDISTAN: If you are faithful to your people…!

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Chame Rabatke village, Duhok Governorate.

By Runak Hassani

The time is 4 p.m. 

After driving for 7 hours, we arrived at an Assyrian Christian village, Chame Rabatke of the Nahla Valley in the Duhok Governorate. We were hosted at the home of a local teacher, Ashur.

During the Bombardments, children cry and even animals are scared.

CPT has visited the village of Chame Rabatke and the ones that are around it before. For about 6 years these villages have lived under the bombardments of the Turkish government, causing constant fear. 

One of the members of Kak Ashur’s family said, “In the past, the Turkish government bombarded the mountains outside of the village, but now they are bombing near the village, causing great fear, and traumatising the people who live here. During the bombardments children cry, and even the animals are scared.”

These continuing attacks have forced the people of the village to leave their houses, fields, orchards, and livestock, and to flee to the cities. For generations their ancestors have lived in this place. Now, the evacuation is threatening the continuation of a religious minority that has made this region its home. 

“We are not ready to let our children live here and suffer anymore”

Another member of the family, Kak Ninos, shared their grief over evacuating the village.  He told CPT that living in this situation is simply not safe anymore. “We are not ready to let our children live here and suffer anymore. This is our red line. Try to put yourselves in our place, what would you do as a father?”

The state of the road to and from the village is another safety concern and reason to flee. With deep potholes and jutting rocks, it is a dangerous and slow evacuation route when fleeing bombings. Even on more normal days it is a difficult journey for the children attempting to get to school.

“I am a teacher but I could not go to work.”

There is only one school in Chame Rabatke village. But it was closed in 2014, during the ISIS war, and has remained closed. That same year, it became a shelter for people who were displaced by that war.

Kak Ashur, who was a teacher in their elementary school, now must teach in another village and the roads make it too difficult to return home each day. “I am a teacher,” said Kak Ashur, “but I cannot go to my work … I have to teach somewhere else and cannot live in my village anymore”.

The villagers of Chame Rabatke are distressed about the weak attitude of the Iraqi Government and the silence of the Kurdistan Regional Government. They say that the Kurdistan Regional Government has no power to stop the bombardments by Turkey and Iran. All the Iraqi Government has done is publish a statement opposing the bombardments.

The international community is silent.

Kak Sandi, another member of Kak Ashur’s family, told us, “Bombardments caused the displacement of people from the villages to the cities. What surprises me is that Turkey is a member of NATO, and they kill innocent people with U.S weapons. But the international community is silent.”

The villagers do not address only the governments, but also the Christian communities. They welcome any organizations that will come to serve the people of Nahla Valley, including the Muslim village of Dupre. They say that as a Christian community, their possibility of being destroyed is much higher than the other communities in this region.

If you are faithful to your own people, help us.

Sargon speaks about the role of the global Christian community toward the villagers here. He said, “Some international churches gave 10,000 dollars to us, but this sum was not enough to pave the roads completely. We managed to fix part of the road, but after six months it was in disrepair again.” He added, “If you are faithful to your own people, it is time to come and help us. We ask you to protect us and to try to stop the bombardments.”

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