Jun 28, 2015

World Refugee Day 2015



CPT Iraqi Kurdistan joined REACH/RDCYP to provide a surprise for this group of Syrian children. Instead of the usual English class they were given games to play all afternoon. This was a time for fun and they made the best of it. We all had a great time together.









According to the United Nations Refugee Agency "Around the world more than 50 million people have fled their homes. Each day thousands more follow.

Jun 27, 2015

Peace is finding alternatives to violence

An Iraqi Kurd, Iraqi Arab, Syrian Kurd, Syrian Arab, Czech Silesian, everyone unique, all affected by violence and oppression in different ways. In our common commitment we explore various alternatives to violence. Through our unique experience we find creative paths to walk in order to transform oppressions. It's a fascinating process.
Support our team as we patner with those who seek new ways to transform violence and oppression. Help us to sustain our work.


Jun 22, 2015

Peace is fun

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CPT Iraqi Kurdistan together with its partners accompanies different cultural, ethnic and religious groups of young people displaced by war as they explore new alternatives to violence, build one community and seek together how to make peace.
Please support our team to be able to co-lead more Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops with young people and leaders of both the displaced and host communities.
Learn more of our work. Share it with your communities. Support us financially.
http://bit.do/CPTIraqiKurdistan

Jun 21, 2015

Training with host and refugee communities' children

During the role play one of the girls said, "the bullies did not know about AVP until we told them. They they decided that they could act in a way that is an alternative to violence." Hugs were given. 

This was the first workshop where Syrian Kurdish and Iraqi Kurdish children ages 11-13 from a nearby school came together for an AVP day- long workshop. We were not sure what to expect but the children were awesome and worked well with no tension. Even though most of the conversations took place though a translator they showed that they had learned the ideas and methods behind alternatives to violence.


                                                                                    Preparing for a trust walk. It appears that hints are being given.

                                                                                These two- without a common language- decided that they could work together as well.

                                                             Getting busy to create a common picture.

 

Jun 18, 2015

Ramazan Piroz bet, Ramadan Mubarak!

To all our Muslim friends in Kurdistan and all around the world: Ramazan Piroz bet, Ramadan Mubarak! We pray together with you that the world will become a place of peace. May we all fast from thoughts and actions of injustice.

New permanent camp for displaced families

On Thursday, 18 June CPT Iraqi Kurdistan joined several other agencies to tour the new Ashti internally displaced persons' camp. This more permanent camp with concrete block houses and better resources for water, sanitation and electricity is situated 20 minutes from Sulaimani and very near the Arbat camp. This week families will start to move from Arbat camp to Ashti, beginning with the most vulnerable families.



Jun 17, 2015

Together we can make peace!

 Participants and facilitators of the one day long Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) at Reach Community Center in Bainjan. Iraqi Kurd, Syrian Kurd, Arab, Czech, Ezidi, Muslim, Christian, Woman, Man, displaced by war, at-home, work migrant by choice, disabled, non-disabled... We search for what connects and unites us as we learn to embrace and respect our ethnic, religious, cultural and other differences.

Jun 16, 2015

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?" Responses included:

Peace looks like me sitting with my family.
Peace looks like being able to talk on the telephone to relatives who live in nearby
 towns.
Peace looks like safety, no police knocks.
Peace looks like kind words.
Peace looks like a circle, people holding hands.
Peace looks like bringing flowers after an argument.
Peace looks like riding a bicycle free and unafraid.

In the conversation that followed, when describing working together with her group, one young participant quoted a Syrian proverb, “Instead of putting eyelashes on, we poke ourselves in the eye.” Another Syrian proverb that came out of the group was, “Instead of building a bridge, it was so difficult to express ourselves, we made soup.”

Our translator told us that the participants were using familiar Syrian proverbs to describe the difficulties of working together. Sometimes our intentions are good and beautiful (eyelashes) but the result can be hurtful (poking ourselves) or our effort to create something beautiful and useful (a bridge) can result in a mess (soup). What comfort we can often find in our own cultural expressions. How can understanding these help unite us?

Our closing circle included a Syrian gentleman and four women: one Canadian, one Polish, one from the USA and one Iraqi, holding hands for peace as we reflected on the question, “Are we poking ourselves in the eye, making soup, or making peace?”

Community building youth style

Syrian Kurdish, Ezidi and Iraqi Kurdish young women and men are building friendships during a day long Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). A workshop co-facilitated by a member of CPT and two AVP trainers/partners from REACH.




Jun 14, 2015

Peace is sitting together and listening

The recent CPT delegation spent some time visiting the Ezidi community living in the unfinished houses just outside of Dohuk.
Support our work now: http://bit.do/CPTIraqiKurdistan
Join a delegation: http://cpt.org/participate/delegation

Jun 10, 2015


Prayers for Peacemakers: June 10, 2015

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

Jun 9, 2015

International Delegation: Memories

Day 7 - Today we visited the Amna Suraka (Red Security) National Museum here in Sulaimani. From 1986 to 1991 the buildings this museum consists of were a site for detaining and torturing Kurdish people during the Al-Anfal Campaign. The torture chambers and cells have been kept as they were 25 years ago.

The photo is of  The twisty hallway contains 182,000 shards of mirror (one for every victim) and 4,500 lights (one for every destroyed village). We've been challenged to look for the face of God here. We've certainly found it in many places, but we had to work very hard to find it here.


Day 6. Delegation Day 6-We had the opportunity to see the land that once was part of the fields and vineyards surrounding the village, Haji Ahmed, but the land has now been over taken by the work of a major oil company. The teenager pictured with the group was Ibrahim, the son of Kak Miro, whose land is at the heart of that confiscated by the company.



Day 5-On Saturday we were in the Dohuk area. Here we visited several places but this one in particular is a story that should be told. 102 Yazidi families are living in twelve unfinished houses outside the town. They have been there since August, 2014. They received supplies from CPT partner organisations to help them survive the winter but now it is summer and their needs are different. They finally have a water source, but have no way to keep water fresh or food cold and there is a threat of water or food borne illnesses spreading among the group. Because they do not live in a camp they receive very little official aid. Thank you to Kak Sherzad and Alind Organisation for the amazing work they are doing in supporting the Ezidi people.


Day 4 - On Friday we visited an Ezidi Temple in Lalish, a very holy place to which many have come after being forced from their homes by ISIS. This room contains seven fabrics, one for each of the seven angels closest to God. We were invited to tie a knot to give a blessing and to untie a knot to receive a blessing.


Day 3. Today, the group visited an Ezidi sheik and his family in Arbat Refugee Camp to learn about the realities of life within the camp. The Arab, Shabak, and Ezidi peoples all struggle to survive the camp's challenging, overcrowded conditions.



Day 2. Today was the ending event of the Children's project. We gathered with children from Bazian and the monastery to eat, play games and draw together. This was the long mural created by all the children. A striking thing is two drawings side by side- ones with crosses and one with a mosque.


Day 1Welcome to Iraqi Kurdistan CPT delegation.. Here they have just stepped off the airport bus, ready to travel to the CPT house.




Jun 7, 2015

Peace is caring for our earth


For the last 3 days the June CPT delegation and the team have travelled the length of Iraqi Kurdistan. We have seen the magnificent beauty of the region and spoken to the many diverse people living together in this tiny piece of the earth.

Jun 1, 2015

May 2015 Newsletter


 

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.

Peace Through the Eyes of Syrian Children


On Tuesday, 26 May, three CPT members of the Iraqi Kurdistan team, Alicja, Hannah and Rosemarie, 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 betrayed any suffering that they had endured. Several were wearing school uniforms which might have been worn when they were students in Syria. They eagerly participated in the program, in many ways demonstrating the resilience of children. 

Eager to demonstrate 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 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, eager to have them share their dreams, we asked them, "What does peace look like?"

Amazing responses included:
Peace looks like me sitting with my family.
Peace looks like being able to talk on the telephone to relatives who live in nearby towns.
Peace looks like safety, no police knocks.
Peace looks like kind words.
Peace looks like a circle, people holding hands.
Peace looks like bringing flowers after an argument.
Peace looks like riding a bicycle free and unafraid.


In the conversation that followed, when describing working together with her group, one young participant quoted a Syrian proverb, reflecting that, “Instead of putting eyelashes on, we poke ourselves in the eye.” Another Syrian proverb that helped us understand how difficult it is to work together was quoted by another participant, “Instead of building a bridge, it was so difficult to express ourselves, we made soup.”

Our translator told us that the participants were using familiar Syrian proverbs to describe the difficulties of working together. Sometimes our intentions are good and beautiful (eyelashes) but the result can be hurtful (poking ourselves) or our effort to create something beautiful and useful (a bridge) can result in a mess (soup). What comfort we can often find in our own cultural expressions. How can understanding these help unite us?

Our closing circle included a Syrian gentleman and four women: one Canadian, one Polish, one from USA and one Iraqi, holding hands for peace as we reflected on the question, “Are we poking ourselves in the eye, making soup or making peace?”

CPT European Convergence

 CPTer Kathy Moorhead Thiessen and 5 former Iraqi Kurdistan team members attended the annual CPT European Convergence in London, UK. On Friday, 15 May all the  participants joined other international religious peace activists in a vigil  at the UK Home Office. They gathered to draw attention to the deaths of 1,800 migrants and refugees in the Mediterranean Sea this year  and the culpability of the UK government in these deaths. CPT Europe will hold 3 months of delegations to the summer project in Greece to accompany refugees who have crossed from Turkey to Greece.
 

Video of Halabja genocide in Canada's Museum for Human Rights

The newly opened Canadian  Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg chose a  video filmed by CPT intern Brad Langendoen  to tell the story of the 1988 Halabja  genocide. This entry in their permanent exhibition shows  Aras Abid of Halabja telling the story of his family during the 1988 chemical bombing.  Kak Aras is the only member of his family that survived that massacre when 5,000 persons were killed in one day.

CPTers Interviewed on Canadian Radio

On Monday, 25 May, Harmeet Sooden and Kathy Moorhead Thiessen were interviewed from Sulaimani via skype  on CBC radio, a major news broadcaster in Canada.They were able to speak about the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan and the work that CPT is doing here. Then on 29 May they spoke to "The Nighthawk" on CJOB radio in Manitoba. The CBC wrote an article about the interview which can be found at this link: 
http:// http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/
winnipegger-in-iraq-urges-canada-to-take-
different-approach-to-conflict-1.3086221.

Arbat IDP Camp Interviews

The team conducted five more interviews this month with the residents of Arbat IDP Camp as part of CPT’s investigation into communal tensions between the diverse ethno-religious groups in the camp. On 27 May, the team completed a 11-page report which summarises CPT’s findings and provides recommendations on how to ameloriate the tensions. The team will present the report to the UN and other organisations affiliated with the camp, with the aim of persuading them to address this issue before it escalates further.

Bazian Psychosocial Program

We have now completed six weeks of the eight week psychosocial program and it has been a joy to work with this passionate group of young adults.  They are creative and full of spirit, drawing on each of their unique experiences across Syria and Iraq to problem-solve and communicate effectively.  The group consists of Iraqi Arabs from Anbar province, Yazidis from Sinjar mountain, and Syrian Kurdish and Syrian Arab refugees. Last week they shared with each other about their dreams of becoming designers and architects, musicians and engineers.  This week we explored our unique methods of communication, discovering how we can often miscommunicate and misunderstand and finding solutions to better communicate in our diversity.  
                 AUGUST 28 - SEPTEMBER 10