16 October 2017
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Mobilize for Peace Now!
On October 16, 2017, fighting broke out between Iraqi and Iranian militaries against the Iraqi Kurdistan forces along a new frontline in the oil-rich town district of Kirkuk. Reports of the violent clashes as well as the dead and wounded have reached across the globe. This is only the most recent escalation in violence and sanctions against the people of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The effects of decades of war can be felt deeply throughout Iraqi Kurdistan while the region is still engaged in a battle against ISIS. Bombs and mortars still hit mountain villages in border areas where a thirty-year war continues to rage on between armed Kurdish fighters and the neighboring governments of Turkey and Iran. The landscape is dotted with camps housing people who fled war against ISIS while Iraqi Kurdistan is in the midst of a dire economic crisis drastically impacting its citizens. Memories of a lifetime of wars and sanctions live within the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. Saddam Hussein’s campaign of genocide alone killed more than a 100,000 Kurdish civilians.
On September 25, 2017 the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan held a referendum to separate from Iraq. The outcome was an overwhelming majority voting for an independent Kurdistan. Since then, talks between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the governments of Iraq, Turkey and Iran have been focused on the timing and legitimacy of the referendum. Foreign troops have mobilized along borders of Iraqi Kurdistan as war drums echo loudly.
Iraqi forces advance on Kirkuk, photo: dw.com / Getty Images/AFP/A. Al-Rubaye
We as CPT have stated that we held no position on the outcome of the referendum vote. We also believe the results can not go unrecognized. Over 90 percent of the citizens voting within Iraqi Kurdistan were in favor of independence. This is a clear sign of the people’s will for self determination. Moving forward, the Iraqi Central Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should engage in dialogue with the goal of developing a roadmap that does not undermine the will of the people and helps sustain peace. As Iraq holds a wealth of resources, we would only encourage solutions that are truly for the local people and not those crafted for the benefit of government leaders and foreign interests. Furthermore, this roadmap should be supported by neighboring countries as well as the international community.
As Christian Peacemaker Teams we condemn the violence and military actions against Iraqi Kurdistan. We also denounce the closing of local airports and borders creating a state of sanctions. This path of violence and sanctions will only lead to a large scale humanitarian and human rights crisis for the people living in this region.
As a human rights organization and member of the international peace community CPT calls on you to act now!
We urge governments and the international community to use nonviolent means to encourage peace talks and diplomacy and refrain from mobilizing foreign armies supporting armed conflict.
We ask citizens of the world to act in solidarity for peace in the region. We urge groups and individuals to speak out now against this war by holding public actions, vigils, prayers, any means to encourage dialogue and support the people of Iraqi Kurdistan and all of Iraq.
Do not let the drumbeats of war rage on. Mobilize for peace now.