IRAQ UPDATE: May 2011
23 June 2011
IRAQ UPDATE: May 2011
Members on the team in May were Lukasz Firla, Peggy Gish, Michele Naar- Obed, Kathy Thiessen, and Chihchun Yuan.
Mr. K told CPTers that since the crackdown on demonstrations in Suleimaniya, Kurdish security forces had been abducting and beating protesters and journalists. He said the biggest problem now is not the presence of a greater number of security forces, but that people are feeling scared, intimidated, discouraged, and helpless. When the young people see the forces in the square and market, he said, they understand what the Kurdish people experienced under Saddam Hussein.
Mrs. N reported that her husband, Mr. F was going to jail in early May for one month on a charge of â€śslander.â€ť She said that several people offered to pay the bail or fine to get him out, but he refused. They wanted to use his case as an educational tool to emphasize that the government was jailing him for his criticism.
One CPTer went with Mrs. N to visit her husband on 3 May at the Moâ€™ascar Salam jail. Before going to the jail, Mrs. N met with a group of journalists from the New York Times. Just as the interview started, Mrs. N received a call that someone had paid bail for Mr. F and he was being transferred to another facility for processing and release. With the New York Times reporters, the group drove to the transfer facility where many other local journalists were gathered. Mr. F insisted on not accepting the bail payment but the judge insisted that he had to take it and released him. After much paperwork, Mr. F was released and then sent to another police station where he received another warrant for the same charge and was told to appear in court the next day.
On 4 May, the team went to Azadi Park to observe a government-authorized rally supporting the protest in Syria, organized by the Syrian and Iranian Kurdish refugees in Suleimaniya. At the same time, military forces still banned protests directed at the Kurdish government. The team asked a few people who were participating in the rally about the situation in Syria if they had supported the local protest against corruption of the two dominant parties in Kurdistan Iraq. They said they did not.
On 8 May, the team visited Mullah Kamaran and his family. He shared his life story and the reason he participated in the local protest at Freedom Square. Mullah Kamarranâ€™s story is available here.
The team and workers from MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) in Erbil arranged for two representatives from Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL, Washington D.C.) to meet several protest leaders on 27 May. The team invited one student leader and one professor from Suleimaniya University, one lawyer, and one woman who had been participating in the demonstrations against corruption in the Kurdish Regional government.
The team made two trips to the Choman District to arrange for an accompaniment project in the village of Kani Spi during the planting season. In past years, Iran and Turkey have attacked the border areas during the spring. One of the trips involved talking with the local mayor about the project.
On 13-14 May, CPTer Naar- Obed visited team friend, Mr. B, who belongs to a displaced family from Basta in Qaladze District. Hoof and mouth disease killed many animals in Basta. Mr. B was sick from drinking the milk. On 25 May, Naar- Obed with CPT friends from Rania brought olive trees to Basta and planted the trees there.
Next TV- Taiwanese media
A Taiwanese media group spent ten days (6-15 May) in the Suleimaniya Governorate to learn about Kurdistan and CPTâ€™s work. CPTer Yuan arranged for the group to visit women activists in Kirkuk and Suleimaniya, the border villages where bombing from Iran and Turkey has had a huge impact on peopleâ€™s lives.
The teamâ€™s NGO status was renewed for another year.