Iraq

IRAQ: As ISIS atrocities denounced, human rights abuses of Iraqi forces underreported

Iraq's civilians are caught between Scylla and Charybdis—between two dire alternatives: on the one side, opposition groups including ISIS; on the other, the US-led coalition and Iran. While human rights violations committed by ISIS are widely condemned, those committed coalition partners, including Iraq, are underreported.

Since the beginning of the conflict, human rights organisations have been implicating coalition members in human rights violations that may constitute war crimes. Major coalition contributors such as the US, Britain and Australia have a poor human rights record in Iraq. The Iraqi Government, in particular, is responsible for widespread abuses, mainly against Iraq's Sunni population.

Harmeet Sooden (second from left) interviewing a displaced Iraqi family in Arbat IDP Camp in May. Iraqi forces 
displaced up to 85 per cent of the camp’s 17,300 residents.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Artwork of ordinary people in IK travels to Winnipeg to tell stories of Kurdish, Yazidi, refugee situations

 

Young Syrian Kurdish refugees depicted life in Syria before they left bombs and collapsed houses to find a bit of peace in Iraqi Kurdistan. A woman from the beautiful valley of Gulan showed what life is like for the subsistence farmers in the mountains.

These were just some of the fifty people currently living in and near Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan who used an opportunity to show the reality of their lives through drawing and painting.  CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team member, Kathy Moorhead Thiessen, collected the artworks and carried them in her suitcase to Winnipeg, Canada for a six-week exhibition in spring 2016.

Ray Dirks, curator at Mennonite Heritage Centre Gallery, read an article in Canadian Mennonite magazine about Thiessen and the work of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan. He sent her an email. “I see an exhibit which could include 25-50 artworks created by people you interact with—could be children, men, women, whatever works/is appropriate/is culturally and religiously acceptable. I’d not be looking for professionally created artworks but raw interpretations of the local situation, issues, etc.… created by ordinary people.”

IRAQI KURDISTAN: July Update 2015

Violence of 2003 Laying the Foundation for Current Crisis

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan recently discovered in our files a report by CPT Iraq in January 2004. It is titled, Report and Recommendations on Iraqi Detainees .

“Between May 31 and December 20, 2003, CPT Iraq conducted dozens of interviews of Iraqi detainees and/or their families and support networks. This report summarizes the findings from seventy-two cases… CPT is particularly concerned that any mistreatment of the Iraqi people could lead to long-term problems including:           
   1. Increasing numbers of Iraqi people joining resistance groups. 2. Increasing danger of attacks against Coalition soldiers. 3. A growing record of human rights violations against the Iraqi people….
 Our conclusion is straightforward: the military actions designed to ensure short-term security are in fact compromising long-term security interests of Iraqis and all internationals…. Developing a process for handling detainee issues that is transparent, efficient, and that upholds basic legal rights is essential for establishing a secure and democratic society…. The (US-led) Coalition Provisional Authority could model the sort of justice system most desirable for a future free, democratic Iraq.”

Now have a look at The Guardian;  ISIS: the inside story—Martin Chulov; 11 December 2014
"There was a huge amount of collective pressure exerted on detainees to become more radical in their beliefs. Obviously, this was supported by the fact that the detainees were being held against their will in a facility with minimal communication with their family and friends. This led to detainees turning to each other for support. If there were radical elements within this support network, there was always the potential that detainees would become more radical in their beliefs.
According to Hisham al-Hashimi, the Baghdad-based analyst, the Iraqi government estimates that 17 of the 25 most important Islamic State leaders running the war in Iraq and Syria spent time in US prisons between 2004 and 2011."

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 30, 2015 Iraqi Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 30, 2015     Iraqi Kurdistan

Pray for the Kurdish villagers living in the mountainous border regions between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey. In 2012, Turkey and the Kurdish resistance entered into a delicate truce.  The bombing ended in the area where the villagers of Basta live. They rejoiced and put money into building a new mosque with the hope that people would come back to the village. This week the bombing started again.

*Epixel for Sunday, July 25, 2015 

 The LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him,
"There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor.

The rich man had very many flocks and herds;
but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had
bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children;
 it used to eat of his meager fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his
 bosom,  and it was like a daughter to him.

Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of
his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him,
but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared that for the guest
 who had come  to him."

Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan,
"As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die;


he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because
 he had no pity."


Nathan said to David, "You are the man!  2 Samuel 12: 1-7

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

IRAQI KURDISTAN: June 2015 newsletter

Report on communal tensions and ethno-religious discrimination
in Arbat IDP Camp

After the team spent many weeks speaking to representatives from every group in Arbat IDP camp, our report is complete. The findings of the report are very sensitive and might cause an escalation of camp tensions. Therefore the report is not public. Team shared it with care with the UNHCR officials and several other people and agencies who we hope could commit to working on strategies to alleviate the causes of  these tensions.

New water tank for CPT roof

When CPT Iraqi Kurdstan moved into this house in Rizgari Taze, Sulaimani in 2007 there were two water tanks on the roof. These containers have received and stored city water every 2-3 days.  After  8 years of constant use the old water tanks were a mess with much mud on the bottom  and one of them was leaking. It was  time to buy a new big one, to have more and cleaner water. Thanks to God for the ones who donate to CPT so we can have clean plentiful water.
 
 
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IRAQI KURDISTAN: “Allow to Pass Freely and Give Every Assistance”—Palestinian refugees in Iraq


In 1943 the British High Commissioner issued Muhammad Ahmad a Palestinian passport in the British-controlled region of Palestine. It gave the command “to allow the bearer to pass freely without hindrance and to afford him every assistance and protection of which he may stand in need.” In 1948, he fled the war between the Jewish settlers and Palestinian inhabitants to Baghdad, Iraq.  In 2015 his descendants have flown again, this time to Iraqi Kurdistan.  The family treasures the ancient passport, but the command means nothing to anyone.

Twenty-two members of the extended family live together in a house in a city in Iraqi Kurdistan. For many years they had established a good life in Baghdad–they had cars, houses and thriving businesses. However, in 2005 they began to receive threats. Men in cars with masked license plates harassed the younger men. Shi’a militia searched their houses for bombs or bomb making materials. They are Sunni Muslims and an ethnic minority and thus the militia accuse them of association with Da’ash/ISIS.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Teenage resistance to oil extraction

“These are my fields and these are my guests”, fourteen-year-old Ibrahim spoke boldly to the security guard who blocked the way leading to the oil field near the tiny Kurdish village of Haji Ahmed.  He and his younger brother Zaid sat on the bus with CPT delegates waiting to be able to look at their vineyards as well as the oil exploration site.

As we planned the visit, we had discovered that our friend, Kak Mirro, was serving his military time on the front against ISIS but his teenage sons were quite willing to show us around. We knew that the bus would not be able to navigate the tortuous farm road and so we wondered how we would be able to overlook the fields. However, we were very surprised when Ibrahim guided the driver onto the paved road and up to the guard cabin with the barrier stretched across the entrance to the oil field that had once been the village’s land.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Peace through the eyes of Syrian children

 

Peace is what it was like before the war

On Tuesday, 26 May, three CPT members of the Iraqi Kurdistan team took the Children’s Art and Peace Project to the students of Kobani School in Sulaimani. 

The children were refugees from Syria. Their cheerful faces belied any suffering that they had endured. Several were wearing school uniforms they may have worn when they were students in Syria. They eagerly participated in the program, in many ways demonstrating the resilience of children. 

Wanting to show that working together is enriching, we told them that we came from different countries, with the same dream. One of us is from Poland, another from Canada and the third from the USA.  We are a peace team, involved in working for peace in spite of our own government's decisions regarding solutions to the violence. People around the world are joining hands, seeking peace, dreaming of what a world of peace would look like. Then, ready to have them share their dreams, we asked them, "What does peace look like?"

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 10, 2015 Iraqi Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 10, 2015     Iraqi Kurdistan

Give thanks for the successful completion of the eight-week psychosocial program in Bazian, Iraqi Kurdistan that brought together youth who were Arabs from Anbar province, Yazidis from Sinjar mountain, and Syrian Kurdish and Syrian Arab refugees.  CPT partnered with REACH to create an experiential learning program that focused on communication, team building, and trust with the multi-faith, multi-cultural group of participants: children aged 11 to 14 and young people aged 15 to 18. 

*Epixel for Sunday, June 14, 2015
He also said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it?
It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, 
so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." Mark 4:30-32
 
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  Revised Common 
Lectionary  readings.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: May 2015 Update

 

MAY 2015
 

Iraqi Kurdistan

Visit to Gullan

On May 5-6 we visited our friend Kak Latif in his home village of Gullan.  CPT has partnered with Kak Latif and other activists who are speaking out against Exxon Mobil oil exploration in the region.  On a walk through the mountains that surround his home, we were reminded of the sacredness of land and our delicate connection to it.  We are extremely grateful to Kak Latif and his family for their hospitality and their struggle to preserve the land that gives all of us life.