IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: "…live justly and peaceably with all creation."

14 May 2012
IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: "…live justly and peaceably with all creation."

by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen

 “A world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation.”

I had CPT’s new vision statement in mind as I set out on the half hour walk to Suleimaniya’s Azadi Park.  The dust storm of the night before had blown away, leaving behind a cool breeze and hot sun.

Nature Iraq and the other sponsoring organizations know that Kurdistan is struggling with the concept of caring for all creation.  War and oppression came upon the region around the same time as companies decided that packaging food in plastic was a good thing to do.  One person has said to me, “but they can just lie there, the sun will make it go away.”  Meanwhile the landscape and rivers are littered with the leftovers.

Now, in 2012 life seems good here.  The economy has improved, symbolized by large amounts of construction with concrete cinderblocks, created on the edge of rivers, as well as many more vehicles on the roads

The organizers hoped that the Green Festival would bring some of these issues to the attention of the Kurds of Suleimaniya.  And they were successful.  Around 2000 people left their leisurely stroll around the park to listen to Kurdish and American music and look at the displays.  They were able to see that the ubiquitous 250-millilitre water bottle could be threaded onto a wooden frame to create a green house.  They heard from high school students that wind and solar power might work well in the region.  They saw the advantages of placing trash into receptacles that would go to the dump.  They took in the beauty, through nature photographs and paintings, of their region, which reminded them that they must find ways of preserving it.

Yet, as I walked around the exhibits I saw one that would not appear at the Earth Day festivals in Canada: the Mine Action Professional Organization had created a simulated minefield with about 100 different kinds of defused mines and bombs.  They wanted the citizens to remember that there are still around seven million mines left over from the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980’s.  The exhibitor told me that mines have caused 14,000 casualties since 1991 and education is the only reason the carnage has decreased to only forty incidents in 2011.  I thought of our partners in the mountains who face these land mines  on a daily basis.


The lack of financial resources, the lack of emotional energy to think of what to do with the plethora of plastic and other pollutants, and the dangerous residual evidence of a time of war, are all factors that lead to a region struggling to become reacquainted with the land.