Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 March 2018 Kurdistan
Pray for the family members of the four men who died in a Turkish airstrike following the Newroz celebration of freedom. Pray that the protests that spread again over Iraqi Kurdistan remain nonviolent and bring about the changes the people demand. Pray that the world not remain silent against the recent Turkish military invasion into Iraqi Kurdistan that threatens the lives of many communities.
Iraqi Kurdistan’s six-months-long blockade has ended. The Iraqi authorities have finally lifted the ban on international flights to and from the region. The first airplanes from neighboring countries began landing again in the region’s capital Erbil. Sulaimani is still waiting for the reopening of flights.
At the same time, the Turkish military, encouraged by the silence and inactivity of the international community towards their bombardment and invasion of Syrian Afrin, which killed hundreds and forced over 150,000 people to flee their homes, invaded the border regions of Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish ground forces are about fifteen miles deep within the Iraqi Kurdistan territory (Sidakan district), building bases and attacking armed groups. Farmers and shepherds, many of whom CPT partners with, are under great threat.
On 21 March, Kurds and other people around the world celebrated Newroz, the coming of the New Year and the festival of liberation from tyranny. On the Newroz night Turkish fighter jets bombarded Sarkan village and killed four young men: Bezhan Mustafa, Mohammad Ismail, Darbaz Mohammad, Sherko Mahmud. Two of them were relatives of a close CPT friend. Our hearts are with their families and friends.
This week, new anti-government protests spread around many towns and cities of Iraqi Kurdistan. Teachers, medical workers, and other government employees are asking for the government to pay their salaries. They march and gather in the public spaces and block roads. In the governorate of Sulaimani the security forces have taken on a peaceful, respectful approach even towards people who have set up tents and camp on a major road in front of the Sulaimani courthouse. We hope that the security forces’ attitude continues and the government hears and affirms the people’s demands. In other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, the security forces have beaten and arrested people, including teachers and journalists.