IRAQ: CPTers asked to raise the voices of Kurdish IDPs

2 November 2008
IRAQ: CPTers asked to raise the voices of Kurdish IDPs

Members of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraqi Kurdistan visited an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp near Zharawa on 31 October 2008 and saw fifty families from nine surrounding villages living under deplorable conditions.  The families had to flee their villages because of aerial bombardment and shelling by Turkish planes from the north and Iranian missiles from the west.  CPTers heard bombs in the distance while visiting the camp.

Since December 2007, the U.S. military has opened air space to Turkey along the northern border of the Kurdish Regional Governorate and provided intelligence for incursions against the Kurdish worker’s party, PKK, which both governments label a terrorist group.  The people and leadership in the many villages attacked say that no PKK militants were in their villages.  

A small river next to the camp flooded the tents two months ago and ruined everything.  The people said that if they had not been warned of rain from the top of the mountain they would have drowned.  

The families had asked permission to set up a camp in Zharawa but the municipality turned them away.  They also attempted to buy land there— 200 square meters costs about $130—but the authorities refused to allow them to do so.  One woman told the CPTers,  “Winter is coming and it is very hard to live here but too dangerous to go back.  The bombing is very severe. One day Turkey and Iran both attacked at the same time. And we can’t go to the towns either. What are we going to do?” Another woman said “The problem is not that I need someone to build me a house. I’ll build my house again with my own hands. The ICRC says we will build you a house if we get permission. We need you to raise our voice… We are asking everyone to stop the bombing.” Another said “Before the bombings our lives were happy, taking care of our animals. We can go back if it is safe and have our lives back…. We are grateful if you can raise our voice.”