5 August 2011
IRAQ: Iranian attacks on Kurdish villages intensify
by David Hovde
“The tomatoes will be ready in a few days,” Mahmud told CPT Iraq team members. “Yesterday (7 July 2011) there was bombing on this mountain.” Mahmud is the leader of Kani Spi, a village in the mountains of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq a few kilometers from the Iranian border. Mahmud described the advances that the PJAK (a resistance group fighting for the rights of Kurds in Iran) had made recently. “The PJAK burned two Iranian tanks. One day a helicopter came and the PJAK made it turn around. One morning at 4:30 a.m., the PJAK took over an Iranian base and killed all the soldiers. This made Iran very angry because they thought they could control the area. So, Iran attacks harder with shelling this year. One mountain is PJAK controlled; one Iranian controlled. For two days, the PJAK controlled the Iranian bases on the other mountain. Then the PJAK chose to leave since they didn’t have the power to stay longer.
“One night several bombs came close to Kani Spi.” (Mahmud showed CPTers a piece of shrapnel.) “We heard the noise in Weza and other neighboring villages. As the noise came closer, our whole village left. There are two different kinds of rockets: one explodes before it hits the ground, one explodes when it hits the ground.
“Of Kani Spi’s twenty-three families, three did not return to the village after the end of the heavy bombing. But the farm needs everyone. We are busy planting tomatoes and cucumbers and watering the fields every two days. The people have invested money in fertilizer for the fields. If the fields do not produce, it is a financial loss of between $2500 and $3000 per family. People are tired of this. We wonder if our children should work in the city. Sometimes we can’t sleep at night for fear of the shelling.”
Mahmud told CPTers that Iraqi Parliament members came recently to meet with the villagers. The villagers showed them the Iranian bases, which are inside Iraqi territory, against international law. The villagers also showed them the Iranian tanks facing their direction and craters where rockets had hit. The Parliamentarians said they would try to pressure the Iranian government to stop the attacks. They said the Iraqi government is trying to get foreign consulates to speak out against the attacks. The villagers asked them for compensation for their losses. The Parliamentarians did not promise anything but said they would talk to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“Since 1991, Iran has shelled every year,” Mahmud told CPTers. “CPT has been visiting us for five years. You have never seen the PJAK here. They do activities in Iran and Qandil. We have to continue our life. We cannot go to the city. This is where we want to be. We want to stay here if our neighbors allow us. The problem is not religious or political–it is because we are Kurds. Turkey and Iran have problems with the Kurds in their countries. They want to move the problem to the border and inside Iraq. They don’t want the Kurds to have autonomy.”
A Kurdish Iraqi border officer at an outpost on a mountain above Haji Omeran told team members that the Kurdish people want to live in peace with all their neighbors. However, if they are denied peaceful coexistence, they will not be passive but will resist all measures used against them. The officer also told team members that 16,000 additional Iranian soldiers have been dispatched to the border area. He said 200 Turkish military officers experienced in mountainous combat maneuvers against the PKK (a group fighting for the rights of Kurds in Turkey) have joined them.
Iraqi officials say that this year so far Iranian attacks across the border have killed three civilians, including a ten-year-old boy, and injured eleven. The Iranian assaults also displaced 800 residents in the border villages from their homes, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.