IRAQ: Letter from CPT-Iraq team to constituents

16 April 2008
IRAQ: Letter from CPT-Iraq team to constituents

The team arrived together in Sulimaniya on 9 April, entering the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) area with little difficulty. We have obtained our thirty-day visas (a big deal) and are in the process of collecting information to support of our renewed NGO application.

In the few days since our return, the Team has reconnected with old friends, begun looking for more permanent (and cheaper) living quarters, continued preparations for a training on non-violence and reconciliation with CDO [a Kurdish Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) affiliated with the PUK, one of the two main political parties of the KRG].

The Team has decided that it will resume delegations, suspended in Iraq since November 2005, believing the security situation here to be sufficiently stable and the Team having established enough contacts to make delegations fruitful. We hope that the first delegation will be this summer. The Team will be resuming Kurdish language study in the coming days as well.

We have heard that most, if not all, of the villagers displaced by the winter Turkish bombing campaign have returned to their villages, yet rumors of a renewed spring bombing campaign persist. We hope to meet again with the villagers and learn their situation first-hand; in the meantime, will be meeting with the U.N. representative working with them.

The anniversary of the Anfal campaign was this week and memorials took place in Suleimaniya.

Before coming into Iraq, the Team met with their former Baghdad landlords in Amman, and Anita David was able to visit with friends from southern Iraq now in Damascus just before the Team went into Iraq. They are not returning home.

Finally, it is with great gratitude that the Team sends you this notice about our most recent return to Iraq. The Support Team, the many voices of CPTers, Iraqi friends and co-workers, and the CPT Steering Committee all have faced the many and real challenges to our continued ability to be here, some sacrificially, all in love and with discerning spirits. This is a time of a different kind of risk-taking for us. Please continue to hold us, this land, and its people in your thoughts and prayers.

Last evening an Iraqi American man suggested to us that we go home; that our work is in the US rather than here (although they were not his words—think Jesus' observation about motes and planks to get a sense of why he said what he did).

Mindful of the grace and trust which has been extended to us, mindful that the process of discernment is an ongoing one which requires that we listen to contrary as well as agreeing voices, mindful that every choice in one direction means a choice in another direction not taken, we are nevertheless grateful to be here, grateful to all of you, grateful, most of all, to the God who calls, the God who answers.

Ashti [Kurdish for Peace],

from CPT in KRG.