Feb 22, 2016
Feb 15, 2016
"We're sleeping on oil yet freezing to death" is how one Kurdish man summed up the political climate here in Iraqi Kurdistan. War, dropping oil prices, corruption and mismanagement of government funds has led to a financial crisis. As a result, government workers, making up over half of the population, have not been paid in six months.
CPTer Muhammad, a fifth grade teacher, had worked without pay for over five months. For the past month, along with the other school teachers, he has been on strike. Almost daily, instead of going to the school, Muhammad stops by the CPT house and gives the latest news about the strikes.
The other evening one of the CPT trainees, Janeh called the office, saying she had to leave her dorm immediately due to the closure of the college. Professors and dorm cleaning staff had gone on strike and sent all the students home. Janeh lives in Syria and the news left her with many unanswered questions about her future.
Last week several Peshmerga (Kurdish military) blocked a main road in protest of the unpaid salaries and traffic police refused to work for several days. There have also been small impromptu protests in the bazaar.Today schools and universities are still completely closed. In addition, employees running the electrical plants and the city water said they will go on strike if they are not paid.
War has devastated the region for decades leaving numerous political parties interwoven in a tapestry of agendas and alignments with other foreign governments. "I'm a lawyer in a jungle." said the team's Kurdish friend Latif.
The flow of money from Baghdad has stopped as the Peshmerga push back ISIS and gain more disputed historical Kurdish lands within Iraq. Yet, the trickle of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from within Iraq has not halted, adding to the deluge of refugees and IDPs that have already flowed into Kurdistan. This, along with the current financial crisis, has led to a mixture of refugees, IDPs, and Iraqi Kurds daring to brave the deadly Aegean Sea in hope of a better life within Europe.
Every few days media reports, "twelve people died" or "thirty people died" or "nine people died in the sea last night." Everyone knows someone that has braved the sea. One man said, "As Kurds, many of us have never seen the sea" for many, "the first time they see the sea they will die in it." Sadly, this the reality. NATO announced yesterday it will send warships to the Agean . The situation is so dire for many that they dare to risk crossing the deadly waters with their families and children because they see no other option. It is clear that people are at a breaking point, leaving all behind in hopes for adequate food, shelter and quality of life. It is also clear that they need financial and humanitarian solutions, not warships.
With all this happening, still the sun was shining this morning. On the corner the local baker was baking fresh bread and construction workers were smearing a final coat of cement on the facade of a new building being erected next door. Outside cars buzzed by as taxis pick up passengers heading to the bazaar and points beyond. The city still had electricity meaning people were working, yet another day, without pay. Also, last night, while the city slept, people were huddled in overcrowded rafts somewhere in the Aegean sea.
Child places flowers in a lake in to remember the 65 people who
died in the Aegean Sea on Jan 22nd 2016
Feb 8, 2016
A tale of Russian, Iranian and French presence in Iraqi Kurdistan, and how could you become a part of... it
From 2007-2013 Turkey and Iran bombed the Qandil Mountains in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq under the pretext of fighting the PKK. Since 2007, CPT documented cases of villagers and civilians forced into displacement, killed, injured and deeply affected by the bombs. They lost their crops, homes and communities. In 2015 the peace negotiations between Turkey and PKK fell apart and Turkey started to bomb again. CPT wants to provide presence in the affected communities and document their situation. We need your help.
How? Well, the story is very simple. In 2012 we decided to buy our own CPT car that allowed us to visit the villages more often. We decided to get a second hand car. So, “The white bear” a 12 years old Russian Volga – a classic in Kurdistan – joined the team. We had so much hope with the car but after some internal issues it broke down. The team was not able to go as far as we wanted in the mountains… As much as we loved it, we said good bye to “the white bear” .
New Hopes. In 2013 “the gem” a 6-year old white Iranian-French Peugeot car joined the team with lots of energy and enthusiasm. “The gem” helped us to go a little bit further, we reached the mountains! However, we do not know if this had to do with politics but “the gem” started to show symptoms of non-cooperation. It did not wanted to go as far as we needed and non-violently told us that this will be all. We decided through consensus to let “the gem” go in search of new horizons.
Following the Climate Change conference, we discussed about an environmental friendly way to reach the villages in the mountains, like in the old times..
We need a better equipped car for our work. The ideal (used) car for going to the mountains and visit the villages costs approximately US$ 10.000. Yes, your financial support for getting a new car will help us to visit the mountain communities more often. And to accompany them as they resist violence doing what they do best: farming, sharing and taking care of their mountains. Donate for CPT's Iraqi Kurdistan car