Since August 2013, Christian
Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT IK) has accompanied several Kurdish
villages gravely impacted by the oil explorations and operations of the
U.S.-based corporation Exxon Mobil and its sub-contractors. For the Kurdistan Regional Government
(KRG), Exxon Mobil's presence represents a prizeâwon in the face of the Iraqi
Central Government's angerâwhich offers hope for Kurdish political and economic
Since May 2013, Exxon Mobil,
cordially supported by the KRG and its special armed forces, has been building
its first soon to-be-operational oil rig in Iraqi Kurdistan on the land that
two village communities, Hajji Ahmed and Sartka,
owned and worked on for generations. The oilrig construction wiped out seventy dunums
(nearly forty-four acres/eighteen hectares) of five-decades'-old vineyards and
wheat fields. Checkpoints and
watch towers operated by armed guards cut the villagers off from their
remaining landâaround 230 dunums of vineyards, grain fields and fruit orchards.
After the villagers lost one year's harvest, the company began to allow them
access their fields. However to do so, the villagers must pass through
humiliating security checks and searches and remain under constant surveillance
while on their property. One of the village leaders overlooking the gardens and
orchards surrounding the oilrig that took much of his own land proclaimed sadly:
"This is an occupation. For me to go to my own fields, is like going to
Baghdad or Turkey."
Despite its status as one of the richest corporations in the world, which pays
an estimated U.S.$100,000 per day to construct and run a single oil rig, Exxon
Mobil offered via the KRG to pay the villagers for the confiscated and occupied
land no more than a $100 per dunum as a yearly rent. To this standard rate (for
land used by the oil companies), the KRG is supposed to add the value of the
agricultural produce the villagers could have sold. Setting aside the emotional
value a farmer places on producing food from his/her own land, the villagers
evaluate the economic price of a cultivated dunum to be over US$15,000. They
have received nothing yet.âŠ
CPT IK, as a way to support the villagers in the two
regions, and to amplify their voices made a twelve minute film.
What can you do to support the villagers' struggle?
Please, watch the film and share it along the news of the struggle with your
local communities and friends. Please contact the KRG and Exxon Mobil's
representatives and demand compensations for the village lands of Hajji Ahmed
and Sartka, open access to the fields, and an end to the oil explorations in
the Shawre valley.
More than 1100 people have now viewed this video that CPT Iraq and their Kurdish partners have put together. When CPT Colombia began accompanying the community of Las Pavas, one of the strategies they undertook was notifying The Body Shop
that it was purchasing palm oil from a corporation that had driven Las
Pavas families from their land. When the Body Shop took the word of the
palm oil company over that of Las Pavas, CPT began holding witnesses
outside Body Shop retail outlets in Europe and North America.
Eventually, The Body Shop stopped purchasing palm oil from Daabon
Organics. CPT Iraqi Kurdistan is just at the beginning of a
strategizing process with partners on the ground regarding how they want
to confront ExxonMobil and their government about the confiscation of
their lands. ExxonMobil has an awful lot of money, but it also has a
huge righteousness deficit. Your gift is an acknowledgment that a little money toward a righteous cause can go a long way.