Iraq

IRAQI KURDISTAN ACTION: Support WADI’S relief efforts among the displaced refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team has partnered with WADI on several occasions in its work to end violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation.  More information about its programs is available here.  WADI, because of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe currently unfolding in Iraqi-Kurdistan is currently focusing on helping refugees, and we encourage our constituents to support its efforts.  Below is its appeal:


Please donate to the refugees in Kurdish Northern Iraq!

This time it is mainly Yazidis and Christians.  Hundreds of thousands of them are currently seeking refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish Region.  They narrowly escaped the butchers from the Islamic State, and the horror they must have gone through can still be read in their faces.

After all the Syrian refugees (approximately 225,000) and then the wave of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), this new wave of refugees is an immense challenge for the region which has a population of about five million and is now accommodating over a million refugees.

Local people are willing to help and share, but the supply situation is very tense.  With temperatures rising to almost 50 degrees Celsius/ 122 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a lack of the most basic supplies, especially food, medicine, clothes, tents, and lodging.  The municipal infrastructure is overloaded, and the regional government and UN Refugee Agency are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of refugees.

WADI, in cooperation with several local partners and activists, is providing relief on the ground.  Each donation will directly benefit the people in distress.


 

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: "The last thing Mirdo Ali told me before his phone battery died"--Conversations with Yazidis in the Shangal/Sinjar Mountains

[Note: Please share widely with friends on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.  Organizations accepting donations for the humanitarian crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan include Mennonite Central CommitteeSave the Children, and Unicef.]

A friend of the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team, Rezhiar Fakhir, had a chance to speak on the phone directly with several people who escaped from the city of Shangal to the mountain area out of IS's control.  We believe his conversation with the on the mountain is very important and would like to share a transcript of the phone interview with our friend's comments which he  originally published on his blog. 

Risho Khwdeda and his son Alias Risho told me some really tragic stories about what ISIS is doing to the Ezidian people. 

 â€śAt first, they bombed our temples, “said Alias.  They exploded two temples called Mahawia and Saida Zainab.  ISIS also tried to reach Sharfadin temple in order to destroy that too.

Alaias said, “People have left Shangal.  They are heading towards the Shangal Mountains.  They cannot come back because ISIS controls the area in and around the mountain.  Children are dying and they cannot take them to the cemetery.  They have to bury their children under stones.”

I was later able to talk to another member of the Ezidean community that has fled Shangal.  Bdal Mirdo Ali has also taken refuge in the mountains.

I called Badal Mirdo Ali and I asked him to tell me about their situation in the mountains.  Mirdo Ali said:  â€śThe situation is really bad.  Lots of children have died.  We are in the desert; it is hot and we don’t have any place here to stay in or to seek shelter away from the sun.”

Badal Mirdo said, “There are nearly 20, 000 refugees in the Shangal Mountains.  Some have tried to go down the mountain to bring back food and clothing but ISIS arrested them.  They killed the men and took their women.  They have also tried to capture the young men.”

“I was there when ISIS arrested some people.  They killed the husbands and took the wives along with the young guys.  Three of my brothers and their wives were arrested by ISIS.  I do not have any news about them.  We do not have enough food and water and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.  If we stay here we will all die.”

“We can’t go down because ISIS controls all the areas around the mountain.  We are very scared of ISIS.  If someone does not come to help us, we will die here.  Already lots of children and women have died here and we hope more people do not die.  If we stay here under these conditions any longer, it won’t be good for us.  ISIS is near us.  We can feel and hear them.  We can see them.”

The last thing Mirdo Ali told me before his phone battery died: “I hope people hear my voice.  Thank you.”

  
  

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Churches in Iraqi Kurdistan filled to overflowing with refugees

CPTnet
9 August 2014
IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Churches in Iraqi Kurdistan filled to overflowing with refugees

 
 Monastery in Suleimani

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spent all day yesterday at a monastery in Suleimani that has taken in sixty-five Christians from Qaraqosh who fled Islamic State militants with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  CPTers heard today that the monastery is expecting sixty more refugees to arrive tomorrow.  Below is a link to a CNN story about Christians filling St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the largest church in Suleimani. 

ACTION: Those of you with Facebook accounts, please post this on your pages, but don’t stop there.  PLEASE ASK 10-20 OF YOUR FRIENDS TO POST this news item on their pages and to ask 10-20 of their friends to post this story, in order to alert people to the humanitarian disaster looming in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Please share via e-mail, Twitter, or other social media accounts as well.

CNN Video: Iraqi Christians at St. Joseph's Church in Suleimani 

IRAQI KURDISTAN URGENT ACTION: Alert your networks to the humanitarian catastrophe facing Iraqi minorities

[Note: The Iraq team has spent all of today in a church with sixty-five Christian refugees from Qaraqosh, who fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  One man walked thirteen miles in his pajamas and slippers.  All churches in Suleimani are packed with refugees.  The UK government has ordered its citizens to leave Erbil.  The situation on the ground is changing by the hour, and the Iraqi Kurdistan team will attempt to provide a nonviolent perspective on what they see.  Check its Facebook page for updates.]

 
Refugees at the Erbil checkpoint

The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Iraqi Kurdistan and has reached catastrophic proportions.  Tens of thousands of Yazidi people (a religious minority in Iraq) are trapped by ISIS, which refers to itself as the, “the Islamic State” (IS) forces in the Sinjar Mountains without food or water.  According to reports, seventy children have died so far of heat and dehydration.  Hundreds more are likely to die in the coming days.  An estimated 100,000 Iraqis—Christians, Shabak, Yazidi, and other minorities—have fled their homes.  They are attempting to enter the area of northern Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a region already stretched beyond capacity with more than one million internally displaced persons from the conflict with IS and refugees from Syria.  Those who cannot leave their homes risk forced conversion, kidnapping, rape, torture, and gruesome death. 

IRAQI KURDISTAN ANALYSIS: Questions about the Islamic State in Iraq, aka ISIS, IS, DAASH

[Note: This release has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original, more comprehensive piece is available on Gish’s blog.]




CPT has been monitoring the checkpoint into the KRG
where tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians, Yazidi,
Turkmen, Shabak and Shia have been fleeing ISIS advances.

Many analysts of the current situation in Iraq had predicted that the Islamic State of Iraq and SHAM (ISIS), renamed the “Islamic State” (IS) a month ago by the group (and also called “DAASH” by the Kurds in the KRG) would make a major offensive on Baghdad before the end of Ramadan.

Jessica Lewis, a former American military intelligence officer with several years of service in Iraq, describes IS as capable of both guerilla style warfare and conventional warfare, and predicts it will attack soon, first the bases around the city and important government buildings.

The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based think tank, which has been analyzing IS activity in Iraq, reports that the coordinated suicide attacks conducted around Baghdad in predominantly Shia areas on 19 July, demonstrate that ISIS has infiltrated highly coordinated sleeper cells into the city. Their analysts predict that the coming attack will likely be in the form of guerrilla and terrorist offensive, rather than a huge conventional military assault. It would be intent on instilling chaos and fear and keeping the Iraqi government focused on defending the capital rather than mounting an offensive to retake Mosul and other captured territory.

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 30, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 30, 2014

Pray for the Christians, Turkmen, Shabak, Yezidi, and Shia Muslims of Mosul.  ISIS militants have driven them from their homes in Mosul and confiscated their possessions.  Give thanks for Iraqi Muslims who are speaking out against this violence and injustice.

 Epixel* for Sunday August 2, 2014
 
 

Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek 
refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. Psalm 17.7

 Checkpoint on road to Mosul entering Kurdish Regional Governate
  *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: Iraqis cross checkpoint near Erbil, fleeing Mosul because of ISIS threats

Children and teenagers sat in the back of pick-up trucks, amidst bundles of clothing and household items.  Parents holding babies looked worried and tired.  Other families sat on blankets in temporary shelters out of the hot sun, waiting for the authorities to process their papers or for the person sponsoring them to meet them at the checkpoint and escort them into the area of Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).  They had all fled their homes because of ISIS’ takeover of their communities.

We were at the first checkpoint for those seeking to enter the Erbil Governorates.  Though only about twenty km east of ISIS-controlled territory, the people coming through were now in a relatively safe area protected by the Peshmerga (Kurdish soldiers).

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Update from the Christian Peacemaker Team in Sulaimani

In the face of the recent violence in Iraq, the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan project is doing well.  CPTers are maintaining a presence there and have been able to accompany and support Kurdish efforts for justice and peace. 

The violence that started in the north of the country was not located in the Kurdish region.  From the border between the autonomous region of Kurdistan and the rest of Iraq, the militant ISIS group has moved down towards Baghdad.  See Isis road to Baghdad.

Kurdish military forces are located at the border with Iraq to contend with any possible violence against the Kurdish region.  In addition, they took the control of Kirkuk—a city of great emotional and political significance to the Kurds.  There are many analyses of how this violence will affect or not affect the Kurdistan, but nothing is clear at this point.  It is clear also that the are many powerful interests behind what is happening in Iraq and what could be the future of the country: One state?  Three states?

But the major concern for the people in Iraqi Kurdistan is the massive influx of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from the south.  An estimated 500, 000 people fled last week towards Kurdistan—considered the safest place in the country right now. 

The possibility of a U.S. attack, invasion, or support? The role of Iran and Turkey?  What will happen in Kurdistan?  Time will tell. 

The CPT Kurdistan team will continue monitoring the situation and evaluating possible courses of action in conjunction with their partners and advisers in Sulaimani, in case the safety of the region and the city where CPT is located changes. 

Meanwhile, our team hopes to continue supporting Kurdish partners in peacebuilding efforts.  The expected humanitarian crisis—given the number of refugees from Syria and IDPs from within Iraq—will almost certainly take a part of our attention, as it will knock the doors of the CPT project. 

 




Iraqi Kurdistan team with CPT trainees during training session in Sulameini February-March 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 18, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, June 18, 2014

The Iraqi Kurdistan team writes, “As violent struggles continue for control of key Iraqi cities, Kurdistan focuses on power and security. With the conflict unfolding, and our work with partners locked in land struggles with oil companies continuing, your support and prayers are appreciated for our team and for peace for the Iraqi and Kurdish people.”

 

Epixel for June 22, 2014


With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies and from the deep
waters. Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep
swallow me up, or the Pit close its mouth over me.

Psalm 69:13-15

*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: “Fingers should be used for voting, not shooting”; CPT reports on Iraqi election




CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team members at 14 May press conference

On 14 May, CPT Iraqi Kurdistan released to the general public via the media its new report regarding the recent Iraqi Parliamentary and Kurdistan provincial councils election. The report summarizes concerns of the five-member international election observer team, which CPT coordinated, based on what they observed during the 30 April election and the subsequent vote recount process. The report title, “Fingers should be used for voting, not shooting” refers to the Iraqi electoral symbol: an index finger dipped in ink after a voter casts a ballot, and the intimidating presence and dangerous activities of the security forces that CPT observed.  The five page report can be read here in English  and here in Kurdish.

Two major Kurdish TV channels and one journalist attended the press conference. The KNN TV channel used the report as one of its main news headlines and broadcasted it repeatedly for two days.