Apr 7, 2016

MARCH 2016

Iraqi Kurdistan


45th CPT training nears its end.

For the past two months a very diverse group of trainees from different countries, cultures and religious backgrounds came together under one umbrella - peace. As the CPT training nears its end, we are experiencing many sad and emotional moments, as we got along together very well and became close friends. However, we know that this is not the end. We will leave the training having had an amazing experience, and having gained immense knowledge during our time together.


Newroz - Celebrating the new year of 2716 !

The participants on the 45th CPT training joined other friends to celebrate the 2716 New Kurdish Year (Nawroz) by visiting the Kurdish mountains. Nawroz represents freedom, renewed hope and Kurdish dreams.

International Women`s Day
On 8th March CPT participated in a celebration of International Women's Day organized by REACH (Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health), a local NGO. We attended the opening of the first market in Iraqi Kurdistan run by women who fled the war in Syria. The gathering also gave young women from different communities the opportunity to share their art and handmade crafts. The gathering closed with theater, music and dance performances and gave hope that equality for all people is possible.
CPT joint mediation training with STEP and UN in Suleimani
In September and October of 2015, CPT organised and ran three 6 day basic training courses in mediation skills – one for CPT team members, one for STEP (Seeking to Equip People) Child Protection Unit staff who work in IDP (internally displaced persons) and refugee camps, and one for a REACH women’s group project in the nearby village of Baynjan. These workshops were facilitated by Marcus Armstrong, a CPT reservist.
Marcus returned in March 2016 to continue the joint project – this time funded by CPT, STEP and the UN. The photograph above shows the STEP Child Protection Unit staff during their 4 day follow-up training in Suleimani.
Over the 4 days the attendees covered a wide variety of topics, including: exploring the joys and challenges of working as a mediator, cultural and other issues affecting the mediators, workshops on forgiveness, identity and embracing life, and a session on looking ahead to what the team will need in the future. It was a vibrant, deeply reflective and exciting few days, punctuated with lots of laughter, a few tears and much intense sharing along the way.
After this 4 day follow-up, Marcus facilitated another 6 day basic training in mediation for staff from STEP and other local partners, including some STEP managers.
It is hoped that when the mediators have gained enough experience and built their confidence, they will be trained as trainers in order to roll out the project more extensively in the region.
Oil companies continue to steal and destroy land 

On 29th February 2016 two CPT team members - Julie and Mohammed - went to Hajji Ahmed to meet with Kak Miro, the village leader. Villagers have been struggling to maintain their land rights and have also been trying to gain adequate compensation for lands already confiscated by Exxon Mobil. CPT has been helping to raise the voices of villagers since August 2013.


Julie and Mohammed wrote: "We arrived mid-morning and stopped in front of Kak Miro's home which overlooks the small village of Hajji Ahmed. Kak Miro greeted us with a warm welcome and walked with us to the entrance of his home stopping to show us his garden and sharing plans for where he will be planting new trees this spring.  After that he invited us inside where his wife brought us tea and Kak Miro began to update us on the current situation.

Read more in our blog
ALTERNATIVES TO VIOLENCE PROJECT

CPT, along with STEP, delivered two Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshops in the first week of March. AVP workshops give the participants tools with which to transform violence and unbalanced power dynamics in their everyday lives.

CPT team members were very happy to have the opportunity to train around 36 participants from different backgrounds. Some of them were refugees from Syria, some IDP`s from other parts of Iraq such as Yazidis, Christians and Arabs and a few were from the Iraqi Kurdish host community.

At the end of the three day workshops, participants expressed their hopes of having more of this type of training in the future. As one participant from the city of Qamishlo in Syria said; "I would love to become an AVP trainer". 
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Oil companies continue to steal and destroy land 




On 29th February 2016 two CPT team members - Julie and Mohammed - went to Hajji Ahmed to meet with Kak Miro, the village leader. Villagers have been struggling to maintain their land rights and have also been trying to gain adequate compensation for lands already confiscated by Exxon Mobil. CPT has been helping to raise the voices of villagers since August 2013.

Julie and Mohammed wrote: "We arrived mid-morning and stopped in front of Kak Miro's home which overlooks the small village of Hajji Ahmed. Kak Miro greeted us with a warm welcome and walked with us to the entrance of his home stopping to show us his garden and sharing plans for where he will be planting new trees this spring.  After that he invited us inside where his wife brought us tea and Kak Miro began to update us on the current situation.

Exxon Mobil have finished one oil well and capped it for later use in a nearby field. During this process, the company, with the assistance of the Kurdistan Regional Government, appropriated land from local farmers. Some of the land gave way to the construction of the oil well, other parts were made inaccessible.  The construction and drilling polluted some areas of land, causing plants, trees and vines to suffer or die. Kak Miro has heard that digging for a second well is to start soon.

Kak Miro asked us to help him write a letter to the Committee of Human Rights and Natural Resources of the Kurdistan Parliament about not receiving any compensation for his lost and damaged land. He was waiting for a phone call from a committee member to set an appointment to deliver the letter.

As Kak Miro began drafting the letter, his phone rang. A Parliament member (PM) had called to say that he was ready to come to Hajji Ahmed in person, whenever the letters were ready. Kak Miro told the PM that CPT was with him helping to write the letter. The PM agreed to speak with Mohamed and gave advice on how to formulate the letter and which information to include.

Before lunch time we drove to the oil field. As we approached the site we saw that, unlike during CPT's last visit, all the company's staff had left the project and only few guards stayed at the entrance. Without any questioning they let us pass the checkpoint and enter the farmers' lands.

Kak Miro showed us to a large gravel lot overlooking the capped well. The lot we were standing in had once been productive farm land but was now completely destroyed.  All the dirt had been removed and only gravel and rock remained. He told us that Exxon Mobil had informed the villagers that they can have their land back now that the oil well was drilled and they no longer needed it. Kak Miro pointed to the gravel - now devoid of life - and said "Do you think a villager can use such a kind of land?"

We asked Kak Miro if the villagers who got compensated last year had received any compensation this year. He said some of had while others had not. He also said that some farmers had refused compensation this year because it was not adequate. One farmer settled on an amount last year, but this year was only offered a fifth of that.

We also heard some sad news from Sartka, another village that CPT has previously accompanied. Kak Muhsin, a former CPT partner and the village leader, refused compensation this year. We asked Kak Miro how Kak Muhsin was. He said, "Kak Muhsin was very upset emotionally after watching the beauty of his land disappear at the hands of the oil company.  It affected him so deeply that he died."

Apr 5, 2016

Nine trainees have graduated from the CPT peacemakers training in Iraqi Kurdistan

A group of diverse individuals from different corners of the world came together to take part in Christian Peacemaker Teams forty fifth training on January 28th 2016.


On Thursday,January 22, 65 people died in the Aegean Sea. At least 28 of them were from Iraqi Kurdistan and 5 from Sulaimani. Therefore, the whole group of the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan training attended a vigil for these people. The vigil was to bring awareness to the situation of so many people losing their lives in the sea on the journey to a freer and safer life. It was a time to express grief for the loss of lives of people from this region and this city.



It was the beginning of us starting to get closer to our selves first and then others. We alsoplanted our CPT flower with Sara Thompson. 




Second stage of our training started with dancing, singing and ended with powerful discussions. Some of us could name it as one of the most emotional and touching but also effective and productive training. 



On the fourth day of CPT training the CPT trainees participated in a role play session on practicing nonviolent direct action. They portrayed a simulation of civil disobedience mimicking Palestinian civilians protecting their land rights and how CPT may support such rights.


CPT trainees were happy and sad during the training. They had to say good bye to one of the fellow trainees as he prepares for his new life in the United States. They also formed their affinity groups for the action that took place. 



Following a security forces ban to conduct our solidarity non-violent performance in public at Azadi "Freedom" park, we decided to do it on the roof of the CPT house and film it.
"Thanks to the government which pays salaries of its employees on time."
"Until when? To where?!"






And you can watch the video action through this link:


After the action the training team spent a day learning about the CPT Kurdistan and Palestine teams and the different activities and challenges that they face on a daily basis. They also participated in two role plays that allowed them to learn how to deal with these challenges in real life situations.



Christian Peacemaker Team’s trainees welcomed the Program Director Muriel Schmid and her bag full of history and policies related to CPT.







The trainees of the CPT team have deeply discussed the impacts of faith on the peacemaking process and 
systems of oppression.

The first session of dismantle oppression. The women trainees talked about the way that sexism has affected their lives. The men shared the way sexism has brought privilege to their lives. After that all trainees discussed the ways that we all can work on dismantle sexism, starting with ourselves



We as trainees discussed about accepting and respecting the differences in emotions and
 feelings of minorities in society



The trainees looked at racism as a systematic way of oppression and how we undo the different types of racism. Unfortunately, the CPT team and trainees also had to say good bye to the CPT team member and trainer Kathy which has been serving in the team for five years and Program Director Mureil. Wishing them the best in their future journey
























CPT training group discussed the aspects of a successful meeting. they learnt about conflict transformation through different activities. Later they had a briefing from IPS (Indigenous People's Solidarity) team from Canada



45th. CPT training participants joined friends to celebrate the 2716 New Kurdish Year (Nawroz) by visiting "the Kurdish mountains''. Nawroz represents freedom, renewed hope and Kurdish dreams.

 .Finally, nine peacemakers from different corners of the world graduated after 200 hours of training 






:Please support our forty fifth training through the following link
https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/CPT