Recent CPTnet stories

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.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY / IRAQI KURDISTAN: Broken promises -- Indigenous self-governance and Kurdish independence

CPTnet

23 October 2017

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY / IRAQI KURDISTAN: Broken promises -- Indigenous self-governance and Kurdish independence

by Rebaz K. Mohammed / Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project

Today, while many are celebrating how far we have progressed in upholding human rights, the facts on the grounds offer a much less polished picture of the human-made systems running our world.

Being an indigenous person myself, a Kurd, I was always drawn to understand what has happened to indigenous nations around the world, including my own nation. How come a nation of more than 40 million people does not have a country of its own? As I expanded my horizon I found out we were not alone, many indigenous nations around the world suffer from the same injustice, especially indigenous nations on Turtle Island (North America). I soon realized that the basis of the oppression is the same: unadulterated racism, and the similarities are uncanny. 

Following World War I, the European colonial powers committed to support Kurdish self-determination and self-governance. The treaty of Sèvres promised the establishment of a Kurdish state after the fall of the Ottoman empire. This promise was broken when the Kurds were divided between four countries: Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. European powers then actively backed the quashing of numerous Kurdish revolutions and attempts to establish a state. Most recently, Europe, the U.S., and Canada have come out against Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sept. 25 independence referendum. 

referendum

Photo from NRT TV.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Mobilize for Peace Now!

CPTnet
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 armoured cars in Kirkuk
            Iraqi forces advance on Kirkuk, photo: dw.com / Getty Images/AFP/A. Al-Rubaye

IRAQI KURDISTAN: In the lead-up to the referendum on independence Iranian rockets severely injure a mother of a five-year-old, burn fields and damage houses in Bine Rashkin

CPTnet
9 October 2017
IRAQI KURDISTAN: In the lead-up to the referendum on independence Iranian rockets severely injure a mother of a five-year-old, burn fields and damage houses in Bine Rashkin

by Julie Brown

On 23 September, just two days before Iraqi Kurdistan's scheduled referendum on independence from Iraq, Iranian military fired rockets at Bine Rashkin, a village sitting near the Iranian border in the Sidakan district of Iraqi Kurdistan. Kak Rashad, a CPT partner from a nearby village called CPT during the shelling saying, “Iran is dropping bombs everywhere. It is close to the houses and everything is on fire.”

Four days later, CPT visited the area with Rashad as our guide. He explained to us that one woman was badly wounded and in critical condition in the hospital and offered to take us to her house.

When we arrived at the woman’s home, kak Idris Saadi, a family member, told us about the bombardment of the 23rd and the the woman’s condition. She had been home with her five-year-old son when the attack took place. A shell landed about five meters from her home and the blast blew out all the windows and sent shrapnel tearing through the house. The woman was severely injured as shrapnel and glass from the explosion lodged within her body along one side

Damaged house from Iranian rocket
House impacted by the explotion of Iranian rocket, CPT-Iraqi Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers, 27 September 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers, 27 September 2017

Prayer for an end of the neighboring countries' hostilities following Kurdistan's referendum on independence and for increased solidarity with the oppressed peoples' struggles around the world.

"Iraqi government is threatening, Turkish government is threatening, Iranian government is threatening and the entire international community is threatening. What is it? I have never had so much problems with my identity, who I am and where I come from. I did not vote for the referendum because I believe that these Kurdish leaders (...) have done nothing regarding human rights, women rights, LGBTQ rights and minority rights. They have not been able to create a democratic system that we all have wanted and lastly I do not believe in nation states." These are the words and a perspective of someone close to CPT on presumably the biggest event of this week: the Kurdistan's referendum on independence from Iraq.

The sharing continues: "Of course that is not the case at the moment, is it? A group of people have decided to hold a referendum after going though hundreds of years of oppression. And guess what: the whole world is threatening and the three neighboring countries such as Iran, Iraq and Turkey have warned that they would invade and put sanctions on the region. I really do not understand why everyone is against it? If really they all believe in human rights and democracy then why do they threaten? Why do they bomb? Why do they kill? Only in the past 6 days both Turkey and Iran have been bombing farmers in the mountains. 7 people dead and 4 wounded. Houses destroyed and farms burnt. And already fights and curfews in some small towns around Kirkuk because of the referendum. Why is that? Why has it become so easy to start wars and to kill people?"

House impacted by Iranian bombing, smoke rising, a man on the phone
On the day of the referendum Iranian military bombarded fiercely Kurdistan's border communities including CPT partners