IRAQI KURDISTAN: Turkish and Iranian attacks hit Kurdish civilians: CPT report


4 June 2012
IRAQI KURDISTAN: Turkish and Iranian attacks hit Kurdish civilians: CPT report

The Iraqi Kurdistan Christian Peacemaker Team publicly launched its latest report, Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish villages in a 31 May press conference in Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Disrupted Lives, available in Kurdish and English versions, details the effects of cross-border bombing and shelling attacks by Turkey and Iran in the Pshdar district of Iraqi Kurdistan over the course of 2011.

Both Turkey and Iran conduct ongoing attacks that have displaced villagers in the border regions every year since 2006. While they claim the attacks are necessary to combat guerrilla groups that operate along the borders, civilians pay a heavy toll. Villagers have been injured and even killed in the attacks.

During bombing and shelling, villagers flee their homes to the relative safety of Internally Displaced Person camps, where they have limited access to fresh foods, clean water and proper hygiene. Crop and livestock loss and property damage bring economic hardship.

Children, too, are victims of the cross-border operations, being more vulnerable to disease in the camps and susceptible to psychological trauma from witnessing bombing and shelling. Several schools were hit by shells, rendering them unfit for use and forcing children to walk over two hours each day to attend class.

The press conference, held in the courtyard of Sulaimani’s Culture Cafe, drew about thirty people, including representatives from eight news agencies and independent journalists. Presenting the report and fielding questions from the audience were village leader Bapir, CPT partner Mohamed Salah, and CPTers Lukasz Firla and Carrie Peters.

Villagers in Zharawa Internally Displaced Persons camp
      Internally displaced villagers in Zharawa camp and CPT visitors

Bapir, representing twenty-five villages along the borders, urged those present not to forget Qandil, a mountainous region of Kurdistan. He warned that damaging the mountains and mountain villages threatens an integral part of Kurdish identity, and called on the Kurdish Regional Government to seek a solution.

Questioned by a reporter about the Christian nature of CPT, Firla and Salah explained CPT’s work as an international human rights organization. The team – which had already presented its report to officials at the Turkish, Iranian and French consulates in Iraqi Kurdistan – stressed the need for cooperation between villagers, local and international organizations and media in order to bring the government’s attention to the villagers’ needs, and eventually an end to the attacks.

Independent news channel NRT featured the press conference in its evening broadcast. Opposition channel KNN and Islamic news channel Speda also covered the story.

The report is available at the team’s web page.

An earlier report, Where there is promise, there is tragedy, includes more comprehensive resources on the background and history of the cross-border attacks and the challenges they pose to residents of the border regions.