CPTnet

CPTnet is the news service of CPT, providing daily news updates, reports, reflections, prayer requests and action alerts.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Syrian and Iraqi Kurds protest separation ditch


Streamers of blue, green, yellow and brown election pennants crisscrossed over the street and almost blocked out the sun. The symbols of the major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan for the 30 April election dominated the landscape.  However, on Tuesday, 15 April, new flags waved from hand-held flagpoles. Many Syrian Kurds who have fled their country because of the turmoil marched through the streets of Sulaimani.  They were crying out because the government of the region in which they have taken refuge has decided to create a dividing ditch.  The KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) that governs the area of Iraqi Kurdistan bordering Syria has sent workers, bulldozers, and security guards to facilitate the digging. It claims that the seventeen-kilometers-long, three-meters-deep, and two-meters-wide ditch will prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

However, the people of Rojava/Western/Syrian Kurdistan and their Iraqi Kurd supporters see the ditch differently.  One man CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spoke to said, “After WWI Britain drew lines that artificially separated the Kurds into four countries.  Now Kurds are dividing Kurds from Kurds with ditches.”

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 23, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 23, 2014

Pray for those attending CPT’s European Convergence this weekend in Aalsmeer, Netherlands and those participating in the solidarity witness with refugees and asylum-seekers at the Border Prison in Schiphol, Netherlands.  Ask that creative new strategies arise out of the gathering that will help CPT-Europe address the life and death issues of immigration at Europe’s borders.


Epixel* for 27 April 2014



Photo taken by CPT-Europe delegation of memorial
to refugees who died trying to reach Greek island
of Lesbos.

 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
Psalm 16:1


*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to
and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's
RevisedCommon Lectionary readings.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Speaking truth to power, for the sake of clean water

Last week, the team met with a man who has done his best to address the threats to the water supply here in Iraqi Kurdistan, but now feels that he has reached the end of his rope.  Mohammed—he wishes to stay anonymous because of threats—has degrees in geology and hydrology and has worked with water issues both here and abroad.  Two years ago Mohammed came back after spending several years in a European country, eager to use his knowledge for the benefit of his people.  In different ways, he has tried to educate people and authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan about the importance of clean drinking water and how to ensure pure water for future generations.  




Exxon Mobil oil rig near Sartka, Iraqi Kurdistan.
Its partner, Maersk Oil, implies on its website
  that the company may use
high-volume horizontal fracturing (fracking)
in its Iraqi Kurdistan wells.

Since one major threat to the water is oil drilling and oil refineries, Mohammed has studied these operations in Kurdistan and their effects on the environment.  He is asking the Kurdish authorities to take the responsibility of choosing competent people to decide whether or not to grant concessions to oil companies—something he feels is not happening currently.  One example he mentions is the building of a big oil refinery outside of Sulaimani.  At the location of the refinery, only seven meters below the earth's surface, there is a big underground lake of fresh water.  Such a place should have a protected status, instead of facing contamination by the refinery’s pollution.
 
Last year people with connections to the parties in power warned Mohammed to stop his activities “for his own sake,” but he has continued writing articles and presenting seminars about the threat to the water supply.  Early this year he participated in a television show about pollution from oil operations.  Since then he has received several threats over the phone, men calling from unknown numbers, saying he must stop what he's doing or something might happen to him or to his children.  He is convinced that his phone is tapped, and feels constantly watched.  One evening a couple of months ago two men on a motorbike came up from behind as Mohammed was approaching his house.  One of them hit Mohammed over the nose with a gun, before they quickly disappeared, leaving him bleeding.
 

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Clashes erupt on Prisoner’s Day

On Thursday, 17 April 2014, approximately 300 people gathered at the Al Manara area in H1 (under nominal Palestinian control) to stand in solidarity with the 5224 Palestinian prisoners now held in Israeli prisons.  All political parties participated in the gathering, and each in turn raised their concerns.  

Speeches included the issue of the promise by Israel, as a part of the peace agreement, to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, and the real concern that Israel is now stalling on that promise, using the prisoners as blackmail.  This nonviolent action ended with a musical quartet, consisting of oud, violin, drum, and a singer offering tribute to the Palestinians still held in prison.

Clashes erupted around 2:00 p.m. between the Israeli security forces and the Palestinians on the border of H1 and H2 and lasted until about 7:00 p.m.

The Israeli military dispersed the crowds with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and in some places, live ammunition (which CPTers observed lying on the ground.)  Ambulances entered and exited frequently the H2 area of Hebron, which is out of the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.  

According to Ha’aretz newspaper, ten Palestinians sustained injuries from the clashes.






AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli settlers moving into Al-Rajabi house

 

 
 An Israeli human rights activist and observer protesting
the illegal confiscation of the Al Rajabi House. Pale-
stinians  face prolonged prison time, abuse, and torture
during an arrest. International workers face detention
and possible deportation.

On 11 April 2014, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals convened at the Al-Rajabi building to protest the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements in Hebron near the settlement of Kiryat Arba. Human rights advocates have opposed the takeover of the Palestinian building, because it poses a grave impediment to the sovereignty of the Palestinian community of Hebron and presents obstacles to peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinian community has been fighting the takeover through Israel’s legal system since 2007.

Early in March of 2007, Jewish settlers broke into the Al-Rajabi building and laid siege to the Palestinian property under the protection of the Israeli military. The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and the Palestinian petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court and had the Israeli settlers evicted in 2008 until the ownership could be determined, during which time, the investigation revealed the documents of purchase were forged. The forgery was substantiated by the Criminal Investigation Laboratory of the Israeli Police, by the Israeli prosecution and by the Supreme Court.

Despite this proof,  on 11 March 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the Israeli settlers should pay the Palestinian owner of the building the amount specified in the forged sale documents.