By Michele Naar-Obed
“We are your farmers, beekeepers, orchard growers, and agriculturalists. We are the life blood of this region,” the villagers exclaim. “We have been forced to flee into caves for protection when rockets, bombs and shells are hurled at us. We live in tents or crowd into relatives’ houses in town because our government cannot protect us in the villages and they have yet to compensate our losses. We are losing hope for our lives. However, we will get our lives of dignity back because we know there are people in the international community that believe in us.”
For years, the village people along the border of northern Iraq have been caught in a deadly web woven by governments and politicians, militias and militaries – all with their own agendas for fighting each other. Bombings by Turkey and Iran have killed civilians, displaced more than a million villagers, destroyed their farms, and mutilated their livestock.
Despite serious silencing, neglect, and denial of the situation by many government and UN authorities, some officials and members of the international community do recognize the importance of these people’s lives for the good of Kurdish society.
The office of the Prime Minister has begun speaking of building a collective village for 137 Pshdar district families in the Suleimaniya Governate. This new village will be close to their old villages. Instead of living isolated in many hamlets, the villagers will come together as one and work the land cooperatively. The villagers believe this solution will offer them some protection.
Making this village a reality will take a lot of effort. The villagers must have the right to make decisions regarding its development, and the government must distribute the resources in an honest way. The international community could have a role to play as well, by pressuring Turkey and Iran to stop bombing civilian areas in Iraq.
The people have asked for CPT’s presence in the new village to strengthen their safety. “We are here and we will live!” the Pshdar villagers cry out.“We are here!”