IRAQ: An open letter to the U.S. government regarding Turkish bombing of Kurdish civilians

16 January 2008
IRAQ: An open letter to the U.S. Administration, State Department and Defense Department regarding Turkish bombing of Kurdish civilians

We are members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, presently living and working in the Kurdish north of Iraq. We have closely watched the news reports that detail the Turkish military invasions and bombings of Kurdish territory over the last five months. We note that the United States has provided intelligence for those attacks and has chosen to open Iraqi air space for those incursions.

We have had regular contact with the United Nations, the ICRC, and local Kurdish NGOs that have assisted the casualties from those attacks. Those attacks killed at least three civilians and injured at least six. CPT has visited two of the families who had a member killed or injured. Additionally, reports indicate those bombings have damaged or destroyed homes, schools, mosques, and hospitals.

CPT visited mayors of communities to which some of the 600-800 displaced families, approximately 3000 individuals, fled for refuge. Those mayors shared photos and videos of the damages in the villages and encouraged us to visit some of the families who are now unable to return home.

The bombings killed hundreds of sheep and cows, animals upon which families depend for a living. Other animals are uncared for because families are afraid to return as flights by Turkish military continue. Farmers now wonder how they can do spring planting.

As CPT talks to Kurdish people, we hear a call for the United States to abide by the standards to which it holds other countries: Do not kill or injure civilians and an occupying power is responsible to protect and care for the civilians who are under its control. The United States identifies the Kurdish Regional Government as a model of democracy, but it is clear that democracy is not served by opening air space to an outside military to attack civilian targets. These civilians had no voice in this decision.

On a larger scale, we have observed a dramatic change in the Kurdish population from unapologetic support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq to anger at the way in which the United States has dumped one of its most loyal allies in the Middle East. Kurdish people have experienced the Anfal assaults under the Saddam Hussein regime and fear U.S. support will encourage Turkey to move even more aggressively against Kurdistan.

Therefore, CPT in Iraq deplores the decision by the United States to aid these attacks on a civilian population. We beg you as U.S. officials to reverse this decision that assists Turkey in violence toward civilians. We encourage U.S. pressure on Turkey to pursue diplomatic solutions to the PKK/Turkey disputes and other underlying issues. We call on the people of the United States to learn more about these events and advocate for the safety of these Kurdish people.


Peggy Gish, Anita David, Michele Obed-Naar, and Cliff Kindy