Archive - Aug 2011

August 1st

IRAQ UPDATE: 1-15 July 2011


The Kurdish Spring Continues
On 15 July, what was going to be a demonstration to protest the lack of reforms since the protests earlier this year, turned out to be a show of force from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).  The city center, Azadi (Freedom) Square, was full of people, though soldiers preempted the anticipated demonstration.  One man attempted to rally the crowd and was swiftly tackled and subdued by government forces.  More soldiers, Asaish (security police), riot police, and other forces arrived from all entrances to the square.  All of the government forces carried heavy plastic clubs, and most had guns as well.  Stationed at the square were trucks with large guns mounted atop.  The Asaish cordoned off one alley—that opens to Azadi Square and leads to various shops—with a curtain, behind which they interrogated and beat people.  Asaish and police arrested and picked people out of the crowd seemingly at random.  The government forces also apprehended anyone taking photos.  Overhearing a young man asking  if there were any organizers from previous demonstrations there that day, Asaish soldiers took him behind the curtain and beat him.  Security forces also detained Robertson after he attempted to film some of the soldiers' activities.  The police let him go when they learned that he was an international from CPT. 

Another form of resistance has begun, in the form of peaceful gatherings in the new Culture Cafe.  More than a place to enjoy tea or coffee, the Culture Cafe has almost daily held presentations by political activists with a forum for community response following.  Poetry readings also occur every week.  However, around the same day as the intended demonstration, the Asaish paid the Cafe a visit.  They threatened the organizers of the Culture Cafe, saying that if the political forums continued, they would smash in their doors and make arrests.  Despite there being Asaish outposts within a few blocks of the Culture Cafe, its organizers are persevering.  If the KRG shuts the café down, one organizer said, then they will open in a different place under a different name. 

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Mekerot Water Company disrupts flow of water to Palestinian crops again

 The Mekerot Water Company continues to disrupt the flow of water to Palestinian farms in the Beqa’a Valley.  CPTers received a call on 20 July to document further damage to crops when the water company ripped out plastic irrigation pipes, saying that the Palestinians were stealing water.  Seleh Jaber, a sixty-seven-year-old farmer, told CPTers that Mekerot also cut strings that support beans and cut pipes in violation of the Geneva conventions.  (1)