Recent CPTnet stories

URGENT PRAYER REQUEST: CPT partner Mohammad Salah Mahdi Arrested by Kurdish Secret Police

 

Mohammad Salah Mahdi (right) talking about nonviolent protest on Kurdish TV

On 18 December, CPT partner Mohammad Salah Mahdi was swept up in a Kurdish Regional Government crackdown on thousands of peaceful demonstrators who demanded that their leaders step down because of corruption.  Teachers, like Mohammad, and other government employees have not received their full salaries since 2015.   After many hours of not knowing Mohammad’s location, the team found out the prison where the Asaish (Kurdish secret police) were interrogating him.   As of this writing he is still in the Asaish jail, but family members have been able to visit him.  Mohammad has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams for ten years, and went through CPT training in 2014.

Currently the Asaish are arresting many activists at their homes in Sulaimani. In Koya, the Asaish invaded a school and kicked teachers in front of the students. In Ranya, people are fighting in the street with weapons. Ten people have died there, including a boy, and more than 100 people injured.  The dead and wounded all over Kurdistan cannot be counted, in part, because of a crackdown on the press.  Asaish entered the headquarters of NRT TV, arrested the staff and shut both the station and website down.  The government has also blocked the Internet for many hours.

Please hold all the people of Iraqi Kurdistan, including Mohammad Salah Mahdi and his family, in your prayers, as they face these violations of their freedom and their dignity.  PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 7 December 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 7 December 2017

Thanksgiving for the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan’s partner – Baste community - who celebrate a new connection to electrical grid after many years of struggle and life under cross-border bombardments. Prayer for the families who had to flee their village Gullala after Turkish warplanes bombarded them for the fifth time in the last month.

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team celebrates with its long-term partners, community of Baste, and leaders of nearby communities, that Baste has finally gotten connected to the electrical grid. This connection is what the people of Baste, a well-known ancient "Peace village", enduring for three decades under the shadows of Turkish and Iranian bombs and rockets, have struggled for for many years. Please read more about this great achievement here.

Celebratory meal in Baste

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPTers celebrate with partners from Baste village an important achievement - connection to electrical grid - which the community strove for for many years

CPTnet
7 December 2017
IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPTers celebrate with partners from Baste village an important achievement - connection to electrical grid - which the community strove for for many years

by Lukasz Firla

Christian Peacemaker Teams has accompanied the community of Baste and their mukhtar – traditional community leader – kak Bapir since the early days of the team’s presence in Iraqi Kurdistan, for over ten years now. Baste is an ancient village, famous widely for being a “Peace village”, for providing a safe haven for women and men running from blood feuds and for negotiations between warring Kurdish clans and armies.

Baste village in the forefront of the high border mountains

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Read the team's latest newsletter -- Post-referendum situation and much more.

CPTnet
23 November 2017
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Read the team's latest newsletter -- Post-referendum situation and much more

Summer 2017
 
 

Iraqi Kurdistan

 
Iraqi Kurdistan's Referendum
The officials of Iraqi Kurdistan held a referendum on September 25, 2017, to determine whether the people of the currently autonomous region wanted to separate from Iraq or not. The referendum angered the Iraqi government and neighbouring countries. The majority of the people voted ''YES'' in the referendum but the reactions from Iraqi government and the rest of the neighbours have been extremely outrageous for the people of Iraqi Kurdistan.

However, after the referendum took place the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan has drastically changed. The Iraqi government banned all international flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan's airports and threatened to take other serious measures including sanctions. Various people from different sides gave many hateful speeches which worried the Kurdistan's people specifically people in Kirkuk and surrounding towns. Furthermore, both the Turkish and Iranian governments moved their armies to the border of Iraqi Kurdistan and conducted military drills and together with the Iraqi army threatened to take over the borderlands. Subsequently, the Iranian government closed its shared border crossings with Iraqi Kurdistan and the Turkish government has claimed to close down its only border gate with Iraqi Kurdistan soon.

In a rapid attack on October 16-17, the Iraqi army alongside militia groups took control over Kirkuk city and all other disputed areas under Kurdistan's forces control. Additionally, Kurdistan's media propaganda has worsened the situation. These actions have caused mass displacement of Kurdish and Sunni Arab families from the disputed areas. Over 5 million people in both the disputed areas and Iraqi Kurdistan proper feel extremely uncertain about their future. The people of both Iraq and Kurdistan are asking all sides to stop all military advances and media propaganda to prevent war between Iraqi government and Iraqi Kurdistan. Following what had happened in disputed areas, the relationship between the Iraqi Kurdistan's political parties has deteriorated rapidly. The party affiliated media have started propaganda and accusatory campaigns against the other parties which leads to a lot of chaos and uncertainty at the moment. Many people worry that a civil war might break out.

The international community has stayed silent except for a strong condemnation and refusal of the Iraqi Kurdistan's referendum as well as sending out confusing messages which have deeply disappointed the people of disputed areas and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Christian Peacemaker Teams - Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT) has written a more detailed reflection about the referendum and the reactions of the Iraqi government, international community and neighbouring countries, which you can read here. Following the military actions that took place in Kirkuk and other disputed areas, CPT has written a Call for peace mobilization, which you can find here. Furthermore, CPT helped create and co-signed a Statement of the Iraqi Civil Society organizations calling for dialogue, which you might read here.

We will continue sharing updates and our perspectives regarding the current situation in Iraqi Kurdistan through our website and social media platforms.
Iraqi Kurdistan, post-referendum 
By: Kasia Protz
Photo from NRT TV.

A majority of people living in Iraqi Kurdistan have long expressed their desire to determine their future. Therefore, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) scheduled a referendum on independence to take place within Iraqi Kurdistan as well as several outlying disputed territories. On the 25th of September, an overwhelming majority voted for a separation from Iraq in favor of an independent Kurdistan. The referendum was not supported on the international level with United States, European Union and the neighboring countries such as Iran and Turkey strongly opposing it.  The Iraqi government opposed the referendum as well. Read the full article here.

 

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Prayers for Peacemakers, 2 November 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 2 November 2017

Pray that the new path that Iraq and other countries forced Kurdistan to undertake will not lead to spiraling violence, but rather guide its people to new structures of life and sustainable freedom.   

There is very little hope left in Iraqi Kurdistan. In a month since the referendum on independence, Kurdish people in Iraq lost most of what they have struggled for and gained in 25 years. To punish people who voted in an overwhelming majority that one day they would like to live in an independent country, the Iraqi military alongside brutal militia forces supported by Turkey and Iran invaded and took control of around 50% of the territory Kurdish forces controlled. The reports speak of killed civilians, rape of a mother and daughter, arbitrary arrest of youth, destroyed and pillaged Kurdish homes, and mass displacement. The militias presence threatens also Christian and Yezidi peoples who have just recently returned from their exile caused by ISIS to rebuild their towns.

To isolate Kurdistan and further instill its dominance, Iraq banned all international flights to/from Kurdistan and took control over the land border crossings with Turkey, Iran and Syria. Turkish airstrikes in the border regions continue to endanger shepherds and farmers. CPT partners fled their villages because of massive Iranian troops movements in the mountains.

The silence and seeming approval of the USA and other foreign powers shocked, and broke hearts of, our partners and friends. Many people blame Massoud Barzani - since two days ago, a former president of Iraqi Kurdistan - for the downfall due to his role in the referendum process and inability to create a united and inclusive government. On the other hand, Barzani's supporters attacked the Parliament building, wounded journalists and torched offices of rival political parties. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams fear an ignition of a civil war between different Kurdistan's parties and fractions.    

Boy points at Kurdistan flag, text reads: There is no peace without self-governance

As people of peace around the world, let us pray and engage with even more energy in the work for peace. Not a peace that would uphold the oppressive structures and attitudes, dominance or status quo. But peace that will become a moving force of liberation of hearts and minds, of people's dreams, and of land. Let us pray that hostilities between the Iraqi and the Kurdish armies, as well as among various fractions cease. Let us pray for protection of families and communities at risk of being targeted by armed groups. Let us demand that Iraq, the USA, and other powerful governments support the peoples' aspirations for self-governance and dreams of freedom. Please pray for the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team and its partners in these difficult times. New hope has emerged that this new order would ignite new lights of transformation for Kurdistan and its internal structures; that new Kurdistan will rise from the ashes of the old.

Learn more about the situation from the perspective of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team here and here.