Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Friday, February 22, 2008

February 22, 2008 Letter

Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,

I have been home for one week now and want to fill you in on all the events as I left Kurdistan. My three teammates are still in the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) area trying to complete our CPT application for NGO status (Non Governmental Organization).

I left on the expulsion visa we had been given by Asaish security that gave us one week to leave the country. That was just one day after they had granted us a 30-day visa to complete our NGO work. We scrambled and CPT in the US made connections with Senate offices and State Department offices. It was probably AFSC and Senator Lugar contacts with Jalal Talabani’s (Jalal is the President of Iraq and head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Party) son in DC that finally opened doors to get that expulsion visa extended for another 30 days. KRG offices are asking for a letter from US officials recognizing CPT and granting clearance for us to be in the KRG. It is not clear yet whether US officials will write that letter. It has seemed to me that the US and KRG are working together to assure that CPT will be unable to continue to work in the Kurdish north of Iraq.

You may have noticed in the news the last few days that Turkey has bombed the KRG area again and crossed into Iraqi territory with ground troops. They were confronted by Kurdish Peshmerga forces and it is not yet clear what the outcome will be. Journalists have been prevented by Asaish from covering the stories in the Kurdish villages. CPT was able to get an appointment with EmergenC for Susan, one of the civilians who lost her leg in the December Turkish bombings. EmergenC is a Kurdish organization that provides prostheses along with physical and occupational therapy for war victims. Watch the news to see if more Kurdish civilians become victims in this Turkish/US assault against the PKK resistance. A friend writes, “What does this mean? That the U.S. is engaged, not only in a civil war in Iraq, but also aiding the Turks in invading Iraq? I am confused.”

Remember the student group that was camped out in the local city park in Suleimaniya advocating for jobs, a role in building Kurdistan, and talking about nonviolent change? CPT had provided one training session of nonviolence in their tents. At a meeting with Asaish to try to reduce the restrictions on our visa, I had specifically asked about our work with this student group. The officer told me, “It would be better if you separated yourselves from that group.” As I walked downtown after that meeting I saw that all the tents and students were gone! We learned from students later that in the middle of the night Asiash had leveled the tents and arrested six of the students. That story is still in process as students consider bringing charges against Asaish for limiting the freedom of speech granted in the constitution.

In the last several weeks of my time in the KRG, friends came to me to talk about the Kurdish secret police. There is one unit in the Erbil KDP area - Dazgay Parastin (Protection Agency) and another in the Suleimaniya PUK area - Dazgay Zanyari (Information Agency). I was told they are among the most brutal in the world and basically invisible. Those who do come out of that system alive are threatened with death if the story is ever exposed. Those officers who are at the top of Asaish are also top officials in the secret police. This is a sobering revelation in the region of Iraq that is pointed to as a model democracy. At one of the offices I visited in my last days a staff person told me, “Here in the KRG we were very glad that the US helped us get rid of Saddam Hussein. The problem is that now we have seventeen little Saddam Husseins.”

Here at home I have been busy with some garden tasks even in the cold weather. I finished pruning the Concord grapes and the red raspberries. Arlene is making plans to start the early garden seeds inside even before the outside soil is thawed. As individuals and groups we nurture and ready the gardens for a future harvest. In local settings and around the world we also choose a different way of relating to the crises and enemies that we face. If justice and peace are to prevail, it is essential that common people, in little ways, take the steps that restrain empires and economic powers and redirect them and each other to the sustainable Way that God intends.

Remember that I am open to invitations to speak and act with you. Write or call 260-982-2971. Blessings of peace to you!

Cliff Kindy

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Turkey Bombs Kurdish Villages with US Support

Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,

The bombing has continued two days this week and CPT is being expelled from the country on Sunday, three days from now, with little chance to intervene on behalf of the Kurdish villagers. This article by my teammate Anita David from Chicago is a helpful explanation of the complex affair. Read and respond.

Peace to this world!

“When there is a promise, there is a tragedy.”

The tilled fields are small and the stands of undersized trees infrequent. The compressed tonal range of the scene falls between straw and the gray green of lichen. In the distance, the snow-dusted Qandil Mountains are the rawest element in this land. They form the border between Iraq and Turkey and are rendered irrelevant by Turkish fighter planes flying over them to drop bombs on villages there. 235 kilometers separate 34 mountain villages bombed in the Suleimaniya Governorate of Kurdistan from Kirkuk, the disputed oil rich region, where a referendum was to have taken place by December 31, 2007. It has been put off for six months.

“If you want to know if there is a direct line to Article 140, yes. There is!” Sitting in his office, the mayor of Rania, a temporary home to families displaced by the bombing, was emphatic in his assessment. He did not raise the issue of Article 140. Asked about the distance between the two locations, that was his response. Almost anyone in Kurdistan will say the same.

A complexity of relationships, going back in time, result in death, displacement, loss and hardship for both sides.

The Turkish government insists its only intention is to rid the mountains of PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party). In 1984, PKK began its armed struggle to create an independent Kurdish state within Turkey. More than 37,000 people died, and thousands of Kurdish villages in Turkey were destroyed since that time. Recently, PKK attacked Turkish soldiers, killing 13 on October 7 and another 12 on October 21. In the October 21 attack, seven Turkish soldiers were captured and later released. The Turkish government accused PKK of responsibility in two October attacks on Turkish civilians. PKK has a standing request for dialogue with Turkey, first forwarded in 1994 and reiterated this November. If the Turkish government will agree to their six requirements, they will lay down their weapons. Thus far the Turkish government has refused to talk.

Even dead, Saddam Hussein continues to affect Kurdish lives. In the 1975 Algiers Accord, Saddam agreed to allow Iran to attack Iranian Kurdish fighters within Iraqi territory. In the Istanbul Agreement, he agreed to attacks by Turkey on PKK bases inside Iraq. Turkey’s recent attacks are over 40 kilometers within Iraq’s borders. There are five Turkish outposts in Iraq. The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is in contact with the outposts. Turkey notifies KRG Peshmirga when they might carry out an operation. The Peshmirga talk with police or local Peshmirga leaders who notify citizens there might be activity. These arrangements extend to Iran. Before the July 18, 2007 shelling, Iran dropped leaflets in areas where it pursued PJAK (sister organization to the PKK) along its border with Iraq. PKK notifies villagers when it learns of possible attacks in an area. People leave and then return to what remains of their homes and former lives. The attack becomes another mark in a history enveloped by memory.

In August 2007, the Iraqi central government made a security arrangement with Syria, Turkey and Iran. The central government indirectly asked for help in hunting down PKK and gave permission to attack PKK within Iraq’s borders. In September/October things heated up. On October 17 the Turkish Parliament voted to allow military operations in Iraq. The U.S provided intelligence information to Turkey of PKK movement. More significantly, it cleared the air space allowing attacks on its Kurdish ally in Iraq by Turkey.
In early September Turkey attacked in the northwest region of Dahok. Fifty to sixty families evacuated and have since returned. On December 16/17 Turkish aircraft hit 34 villages in the Suleimaniya Governorate, and in Erbil Governorate damaged or destroyed 21 villages causing over 700 families to evacuate.
On December 31, in Dahok Governorate, 13 villages received constant shelling and had to be evacuated. On January 15, air strikes and shelling occurred in both Erbil and Dahok Governorates. The shelling in these areas damaged farms and killed livestock but did not cause civilian casualties. Since October, Turkish attacks have been moving from Suleimaniya to Erbil to Dahok Governorates. Continued flyovers by Turkish reconnaissance planes cause villagers and farmers returning to their homes to fear for their lives. Bombardments continue on abandoned villages. Turkish military are present within Iraq’s borders.
As a result of the December 16/17 bombings, 370 families were displaced to towns in the Suleimaniya Governorate and 370 families were displaced in the Erbil Governorate. (Each family is counted as 6 individuals.) In Sulimaniya Governorate, one woman was killed and five villagers are injured. There is extensive loss of livestock (Picture), damaged or destroyed homes, a destroyed school (Picture) and two damaged mosques. Very few people remained in the villages. Some shepherds continued to graze their herds but found shelter overnight in caves. Villagers found shelter in rented houses or in relatives’ homes causing hardship on host communities.

The numbers don’t capture the realty of these interrupted and dismantled lives. Mr. Abdullah, Vice Mayor of Sangasar, who works directly with victims of the bombing in the Suleimaniya Governorate describes “…their life there is crippled. As a result [of the attacks] we have 30 to 40 schools closed in that region, also, some hospitals have been closed. People are worrying about their futures.” 190 of 370 displaced families in the Suleimania Governorate moved to Sangasar.

“This is about geography. For the Kurds, this is about land and the oil is in the land which we will give to the United States.” Ali Khalifa Aziz sums up the situation in these few words. Mr. Aziz survived Saddam’s death camp in the south of Iraq. He recently repossessed his home in Kirkuk. It is also about a long dirty history: the British, the monarchy, Saddam, the Anfal and Arabization of the Kurkuk region, and now the United States. Kurd’s have been yearning for their own state since before the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and were promised autonomy by both the British and the Baath Party. In Ali Aziz’s words, “When there is a promise, there is a tragedy.”

Article 140 of Iraq’s Constitution, calls for a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine whether these areas which underwent Arabization would revert to Kurdish authority. Arabization is the process by which Saddam Hussein replaced Kurkuk’s Kurdish population, whom he either killed or expelled, with nearly 90,000 Arabs. Kurds are returning to the city and reclaiming their homes. Turkey stated its unhappiness with Article 140 and what relates to Kirkuk. Iran, Iraq, and Syria each have Kurdish minority populations but Turkey’s thirty million Kurds is the largest group. Turkey views any authority or power in one part as a threat to them. Oil revenues coming to the KRG with the settlement of Article 140 could be used to supply and support Turkey’s Kurdish population. An autonomous Kurdish state becomes more real.

Mr. Hassan, Mayor of Qaladza, another town providing homes to displaced villagers, believes: “This is my personal opinion. There are so many issues. This part of Kurdistan has been liberated. Kurdistan has its own government so that is a threat to Turkey.”

There is a Kurdish problem inside Turkey related to the Kurdish minority there and the Turkish government’s humanitarian and diplomatic point of view. In the 1990s the PKK shifted their demand for independence to human and cultural rights for Turkey’s Kurds. The Turkish government granted some change. Kurds believe it is not enough. In October the Turkish parliament, with an overwhelming majority, gave the Turkish army one year to finish off the PKK. The current Prime Minister has challenged the military by giving it a blank check for one year. The military is nervous about the current civilian government and knows it has to prove itself for its pride and to the population. However, the Turkish army did not tell the parliament they already lost the war. 600,000 soldiers are needed to monitor, patrol and control this area. Turkish soldiers do not know this mountainous region, can’t bring large vehicles in because of the roads and winter conditions make movement very difficult.

The attacks have led to increasingly bitter feelings toward the United States. The U.S. administration seems oblivious to the negative political effects of the attacks. In the past, Kurds spoke of the United States and President Bush with great admiration. It took long conversation and building a relationship of trust before someone would express disappointment in the U.S’s lack of support during the 1991 uprising or its silence during the Anfal. Now, there is no hesitation in expressing anger with President Bush for his choice to support Turkey.

Kurds argue that Kurdish Peshmerga fought along side of U.S. soldiers in this war. They point out that Kurdistan is the only place in Iraq that is secure and peaceful and where the U.S.’s stated goal of a democracy is beginning to take hold. A program of human rights training for security police is underway. At the grass roots level, nongovernmental organizations and students pressure the regional government for change. A second issue is that as the occupier, it is the responsibility of the United States to protect the Kurds and to not make them target practice for Turkey. Finally, by supporting Turkey in its attacks, the United States breaks all international agreements including Geneva which forbid attacks on civilian populations.

From a security perspective, ridding the border areas of PKK and PJAK opens these areas to insurgents pushed out by the “surge”. There is infiltration along the eastern route between Iran and Iraq. Specifically, Ansar al Islam moved into villages in areas PJAK left.

90% of the families have returned to their villages. If their houses are still standing, villagers need to prevent snow and rain from destroying the mud bricks by covering them. If their livestock are alive, they need care and shelters should be rebuilt. Schools, damaged or destroyed must be rebuilt. People need to regain their source of livelihood. Turkey’s aim may be to subdue PKK or to forestall implementation of Article 140, but its targets are people.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

February 6, 2008, Letter

Roller Coaster Ride

Early December CPT went to the KRG Residency office to renew visas. The office said they should first obtain the NGO status and then get the visas. CPT started to work seriously on its application for nongovernmental (NGO) status.

The month of December was basically lost because Eid and Christmas contributed consecutive days to vacation time. Offices were regularly closed and CPT couldn’t pursue the application.

Offices opened and CPT met the Minister of Interior (MOI). This was in the context of proposing a return accompaniment with Kurdish villagers displaced when Turkey, with US support, bombed their homes.

When CPT met again with MOI there was opportunity to entertain a shortcut proposed by the legal advisor. “Why don’t you just transfer your existing NGO status from Baghdad?”

Things moved quickly. The Suleimaniya Governorate signed its approval and papers went to the Asaish security office. There the coaster got stuck. CPT was told to wait and then pick them up on Wednesday. Then, Sunday. No, tomorrow. For sure on Tuesday. “What! You don’t have your papers yet?” “Okay, just go to this office tomorrow and you can pick them up.”

CPT did and they couldn’t. Then, “We can do nothing from here. The papers are with your friends. You will have to find those who can influence a change.” CPT asked who were the ones to influence. KRG officials could not say.

CPT worked the channels. A media friend said, after hearing the tale, “It is the United States. They are bothered because you raised issues about bombings on the borders.” CPT recognized this as a factor, but other issues, like the kidnapping of two CPTers here one year ago, might also impact.

Suddenly, Residency offered one-month visas. CPT had been nearly two months without valid visas because they had CPT wait until the NGO was complete. There were restrictions, though, with these visas. Essentially, nothing could be done except work on the NGO application. This would damage the credibility CPT had gained and lose the initiative that had been grasped on the border bombings.

CPTers appealed the constraints, got them removed, and then another office took back the visas of the previous day! CPT should go buy tickets, get passports stamped with an exit visa, and leave directly.

The roller coaster crashed! In searching, though, it became clear that KRG offices were not the only roadblock to the process. Officials and advisors clarified that some US office was blocking the road and also making Kurds force CPT out.

The ride is not over. CPTers are visiting the State Department in Washington, DC. Others are visiting US Senate offices to request they get this expulsion reversed. CPT has work in Kurdish Iraq and needs clear visas and NGO papers.

In Iraq CPTers are approaching the US embassy in Kirkuk, the Ministry of Planning and the Council of Ministers in Erbil. CPT meets with a local State Department representative tomorrow. Five days remain and the roller coaster has places to go.

Yesterday CPT met with US State department officials in country and with the head of the Asaish security in the KRG. Both were clear it wasn't a fault of their office!! I suspect one is covering for the other. Three and a half days to go and we are still pulling out the stops so the roller coaster can roll on.

Beyond any of our activities here in the KRG, it feels as though things are unraveling in dangerous ways. Maybe just being here for a longer time allows for the invisible to become visible. Please pray for the people of this land.

Peace to each of you,

Cliff Kindy

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Kurdish and Arabic translations of CPT Open Letter to US Officials

15 /1/2008
نامةيةكى كراوة بؤ نةتةوة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا, وةزارةتى بةرطرى, وةزارةتى دةرةوة ى ئةمريكا.

ئيَمة ئةندامانى تيمى بنيانتةرى ئاشتى مةسيحى, ئيستا ئيَمة لة باكورى كوردوستانى عيَراق دةذين و كاردةكةين. لةماوةى ثيَنج مانطى رابردودا لةنزيكةوة ئاطادارين لة راثؤرتة هةوالَةكان وة وردةكاريةكان كة سوثاى توركى خاكى كوردستان ثيَشيل و بؤمباران دةكات , تيَبينى ئةوةمان كرد كة وولاَتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا زانيارى هةوالَطرى دابينكردووة بؤ ئةو هيَرشانة و والآكردنى ئاسمانى عيَراقى هةلَبذاردووة بؤ ئةو هيَرشانة.
ثةيوةندةيةكى بةردةواممان هةبووة لةطةلَ نةتةوة يةكطرتووةكان , خاضى سوورى نيَودةولَةتى , ريَكخراوة ناحكوميةكانى كوردستان كة يارمةتى قوربانيانى ئةو هيَرشانةيان داوة. لايةنى كةم ئةو هيَرشانة سآ هاولآتى كوشتووةو وة شةش هاولاَتيش برينداربوون, CPT سةردانى دوو خيَزانى قوربانيانى كرد كة ئةندامةكانى خيَزانةكانيان كوذراون و بريندارن. راثؤرتةكان ئاماذة بةوة دةدةن كةئاكامةكانى ئةو بؤمبارانة بووةتة مايةى رووخان و زيان ثيَطةيشتى خانووةكان , قوتابخانةكان , مزطةوتةكان, خةستخانةكان .

CPT سةردانى سةرؤكى شارةوانى ئةو ناوضانةى كرد كة نزيكةى 600 – 800 خيزان و 3000 كةسى ئاوارة و هةلَهاتو و ثةناهةندة لةخؤ دةطريَت , ئةو سةرؤك شارةوانييانة ويَنةو فيلميان فةراهةم كرد بؤمان سةبارةت بةو زيانانةى ناو طوندةكان و ئيَمةيان هاندا كةسةردانى هةنديَك لةو خيَزانانة بكةين كةناتوانن بطةريَنةوة بؤ شويَنةكانى خؤيان.

بؤمبارانةكة سةدةها مةرِو مالاَتى لةناوبردووة , ئةو ئاذةلاَنةى سةرضاوةى بذيَوى ذيانيانة . ئاذةلَةكانى تر لةناوضةكةدا بةرةلآن لةبةرئةوةى خيَزانةكان لةوة دةترسن كةبطةرِيَنةوة و هيَرشة سةربازية ئاسمانيةكانى سوثاى توركى بةردةوام بيَت .
جوتيارةكان دةثرسن كةضؤن دةتوانن كشتوكالَى بةهاري ئايندةيان بضيَنن؟
وةك CPT ئاخاوتن لةطةلَ خةلَكى كوردا دةكات , طويَمان لةبانطةوازيَكة بؤ وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا كة ثةيوةست بيَت بةو بنةما جيَطيرانة كة وولاَتانى تريش هةلَيانطرتووة : هاولاتيان مةكوذةو برينداريان مةكة، و هيَزى داطيركةر بةرثرسة و ليَثرسراوة بةرامبةر ثاراستنى سةرو مالَى هاولآتيان كة لةذيَر دةستةلآتيدان . وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا حكومةتى هةريَمى كوردوستان بة جؤريَك لة ديموكراسى دةناسيَنيَت, بةلآم زؤر ئاشكراية كة ديموكراسى بةوالآكردنى ئاسمانى سةربازى خزمةت ناكريَت بؤ هيَرشكردنة سةر هاوولآتيان , ئةو هاوولآتيانة هيض دةنطيَكيان نةبوو لةم برِيارةدا.
بةرِادةيةكى زؤر , طؤرانكاريةكى سةرنج راكيَشةرو بةجؤشمان رةضاو كرد لةنيَو كؤمةلآنى خةلَكى كوردستاندا لة ثشتيوانيةكى نةبوردنخوازانة بؤ بوونى سوثاى وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا لة عيَراق بؤ توورِةيي بةرةو هةلَديَريَك كة وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا يةكيَك لةثشتيوانة هةرة دلَسؤزةكانى خؤى لةخؤرهةلآتى ناوةراستدا ثةستكردووة.لةطةلَ ئةوةى طةلى كورد رووبةرووى شالآوى ئةنفال بؤتةوة لةذير دةستى ريَذيمى سةدام حوسةين ، ئيَستا ترسىئةوة دروستبووة كةثشتيوانى وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا توركيا هانبدات كةدذ بة كوردوستان بجوليَت تةنانةت زؤر بةرةقى و درِةندةيي.

هةربؤية ريَكخراوى بنياتنةرى ئاشتى مةسيحى CPT برِيارى وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا سةبارةت بةيارمةتى دانى ئةو هيَرشانة بؤ سةر هاوولآتايان رةتدةكاتةوة، تكاتان ليَدةكةين وةك فةرمانبةرانى وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا كة ئةو برِيارة ثوضةلَ بكةنةوة (دادطةرى) سةبارةت بةوةى كة ياريدةى توركيا بدةن بؤ بةكارهيَنانى توندوتيذى دذ بةهاوولاَتيان . هاني فشار خستنة سةر توركيا دةدةين بؤ طرتنةبةرى ريَطةضارةى دبلؤماسى لةكيَشةى نيَوان ثارتى كريَكارانى كوردستان و(PKK) توركيادا وةضةند مةسةلةيةكى بنةرِةتى تر. ئيَمة بانطةوازى هاولآتيانى وولآتة يةكطرتووةكانى ئةمريكا دةكةين بؤ زياتر فيَربون سةبارةت بةم رووداوانة وةبةرطريي و داكؤكى لة سةلامةتى طةلى كورد بكةن.

ثيَطى طيش , ئةنيتا ديَيظيد, ميشيَل نار ئوبيَد , كليف كيندى


يناير/كانون الثّاني 15/2008
رسالة مفتوحة إلى إدارة الولايات المتحدة الأمريكيةِ، وزارة الخارجية و وزارة الدّفاع الأمريكية.

نحن أعضاء فرق صانعوا السلام المسيحيةِ، في الوقت الحاضر نحن نعِيشُ ونعْملَ في كوردستان- شمال العراق. راقبنا التقاريرَ الإخباريةَ مباشرةً التي تعرض ُتفاصيل الغزوات العسكريةَ التركيةَ وقصف الأراضِي الكرديةِ خلال الشهور الخمسة الماضية. نُلاحظُ بأنّ الولايات المتّحدةَ زوّدتْ معلوماتا إستخباراتية لتلك الهجمات وإختارت فَتْح المجال الجوي العراقيِ لتلك الهجمات.

كَانَ لدينا إتصال متواصل مع الأُمم المتّحدةِ، الصليب الأحمر الدولي والمنظمات المحلية الكردستانية الغير حكومية اللاتي ساعدا الإصاباتَ مِنْ تلك الهجمات.ادت تلك الهجماتِ الى قَتل ما لا يقل عن ثلاثة مدنيين و جرح ما لا يقل عن ستة مدنيين. زارت سي بي تي عائلتان مِنْ العوائلِ ِ اللاتي كانت لديهم قَتلَى َو جَرحَى. إضافة إلى ذلك، يُشيرُ التقاريرُ بأن تلك التفجيراتِ قد كبدت خسائر جسيمة و دمرت البيوتَ، المدارس، المساجد، والمستشفيات..

زارَت منظمة سي بي تي رؤساء البلدية في المناطق الذي يحتوي على 600- 800 عوائل المرحَّلة و 3000 افراد من, الذين هَربوا للمأوى تقريباً.. أولئك رؤساء للبلدية زودونا بالصورِ و أشرطة الفيديو للأضرارِ في القُرى وشجّعونا لزيَاْرَة البعض مِنْ العوائلَ اللاتى غير قادرون على العَودة إلى ديارهم الآن.

قَتلتْ التفجيراتُ مِئاتَ الخرفان والأبقارِ، والحيوانات التي تَعتمدُ العوائلَ عليها للمعيشة. والحيوانات الأخرى تبعثروا وأهملوا لأن العوائلَ يخافون العَودة ينما يَستمر غارات الجيشِ التركيِفي المنطقة. الآن المزارعون يَتسائلونَ كيف يُمْكِنُ أَنْ يَعملونَ زِراعَتهم الربيعيةُ.
كما يتحدث سي بي تي للشعبِ الكرديِ، نَسمع نداء إلى الولايات المتّحدةِ للإلتِزام بالمعاييرَ التي تضمن بلدانَ
أخرى: لا تَقْتل أَو تجرح المدنيين وقوة الإحتلال مسؤولة عن حماية المدنين العزل والإهتمام بالذين هم تحت سيطرتها. الولايات المتّحدة ألأمريكية تعرف حكومة إقليم كوردستان كنموذج للديموقراطية ، للكنه واضح تلك الديمقراطيةِ لا تخدَمُ بفتح المجال الجوي العسكري الأجنبي لمهاجمة أهداف مدنية. هؤلاء المدنيين ما كَان عندهم صوت في هذا القرار .
على مقياس أكبر، لاحظنَا تغيير مثير في الشعب الكرديِ مِن الدعم الغير معتذر للوجود العسكري الأمريكي في العراق لغْضب في الطريقِ الذي فيه الولايات المتّحدةِ تَخلّصتْ من إحدى حلفائِها في الشرق الأوسطِ. واجهَ الشعبُ الكردي إعتدءات أنفال تحت الولايات المتحدة ونظام خوف صدام حسين، دعم سيشجع تركيا لتَحرك حتى بشدة ضدّ كوردستان.

لذا، سي بي تي في العراق تستهجن قرار الولايات المتحدة لمساعدة هذه الهجمات على السكان المدنين. نناشدكم كمسؤولون أمريكان لنقض هذا القرار الذي يساعد تركيا في العنف ضد المدنيين. نشجع الضغطَ على تركيا لمُتَابَعَة الحلولِ الدبلوماسيةِ في النزاع القائم بين بي كْي كْي / تركيا وقضايا مخفية أخرى. نَدْعو الشعب الولايات المتّحدةِ الأمريكى للتَعلم الأكثر حول هذه الأحداث وندعو لأمان هذا الشعب الكردي.ِ

بيكى كيش, أنيتا ديفد- ميشيل نار-ئوبيد - كليف كيندى

January 31, 2008, Letter

Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,

We have had lots of snow and rain the last few days here in the mountain bowl of Suleimaniya. There have been changes voted in the Iraqi flag, primarily because of concerns raised by Kurds. I have yet to see one of the new flags flying anywhere. I stopped at a tailor's shop two days ago and asked about it. He had one of the new flags draped over his counter, but when I asked whether Kurds would use it, he responded, "They are likely to fly the Kurdish flag with the new Iraqi flag if they use it."

Remember the roller coaster I mentioned Sunday? We are still riding it. Yesterday the one-month visa we had been granted was taken back. Instead the residency office told us to go buy tickets, then return to have our passports stamped with a seven-day exit visa. We have to go immediately. No one would say why or who ordered this deed. After lots of searching and asking questions of different levels in the Kurdish government, of Kurdish and international NGOs, and of US officials here in the KRG, we are 99% clear that the US government at some level has made this decision and asked the Kurdish officials to implement it.

Who? Probably the US State Department, but it could be the Hostage Working Group in the Baghdad Green Zone, FBI, or Department of Defense. Why? Would you like to venture some guesses? I suspect it is because we have been raising concerns about the US-supported bombing of Kurdish villages by Turkey. It may be something related to the kidnapping CPT went through about one year ago, although the Kurdish security forces who took the brunt of that have laid it behind them. As I said to the official at the Ministry of the Interior this morning, "Maybe the United States doesn't like one of my colleagues, Peggy, Anita or Michele."

CPT is working in Washington, DC, with legislators to uncover the appropriate agency and then try to get this action changed. This could be the end of CPT presence in Iraq for now. That would be sad because I feel our presence has been able to provide an important on-the-ground perspective of the US occupation of Iraq.

I will sign out of this letter and back in to paste in the Kurdish and Arabic translations of the Open Letter CPT sent to US officials to voice our concerns about the way the United States supported the Turkish bombing of Kurdish civilian villages.

Blessings of peace to your families and to your enemies!

Cliff Kindy

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Roller Coaster, January 27, 2008 Letter

Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,

These last few weeks have been a roller coaster ride of emotions as one minute we are confident we have the NGO approval in hand and then are clear we don't. Those papers are essential for being able to continue our CPT work here. This past week it became clear to us that a security incident with the team last year had rolled the process up into a new arena. We would need to get involvement from US officials and from the higher levels of the Kurdish government.

At the same time we were offered a one-month visa, after going for nearly two months without any, to assist us in obtaining the NGO papers. With that visa came a list of activities that would not be approved or allowed under the visa. It was clear to me that both the timing of the offer and the restrictions were unusual and must have been triggered by a decision at a higher level. I felt unable to compromise my CPT activities to that extent and am presently exploring whether I can negotiate some flexibility. I plan to be here in Suleimaniya two more weeks and maybe should have swallowed my principles.

At this point all work with the border villages after the US-supported bombing by Turkey is on hold until we discover where the unexplained glitch in the NGO process is located. That is unfortunate since we were very close to having support for the process of accompanying villagers back to their communities for their protection and to open a space for dialogue instead of violence between the actors in that horror.

The CPT open letter to US officials explaining our deep concerns about US logistical support of those cross border Turkish raids is printed in an earlier blog. We still encourage you to contact legislators with your concerns and write about those events in your local newspaper. Feel free to publish the letter as an opinion page piece.

Some of you may have read in the news about the huge explosion in Mosul when an abandoned apartment building holding explosives and weapons was detonated. Two different news releases reported that Kurdish Peshmerga or US military had earlier placed barrels of explosives in the building. Apparently they didn't know how many other explosives were in the building and take precautions to warn neighbors. One hundred homes within two kilometers were destroyed by the blast. Forty people died at last report and about 170 were injured. Please check the news you can find on this as well. It seems to have been the trigger to send huge numbers of Iraqi and US troops to Mosul for the "last important battle in Iraq against Al Qaeda."

As I near my time to leave Iraq, I am open to receiving invitations to speak about my experiences here as well as with other CPT projects in earlier years. You can email me: or phone: 260-982-2971.

Let me close with a prayer I sent this week to Susan Mark Landis for an Iraq Concerns email prayer circle:
"Merciful God, may your reign come here on earth as in heaven," prays the displaced Muslim family that lost a mother in the US-supported Turkish bombing. "All Powerful God, we long for your reign here on earth as it is in heaven," the PKK Communist believer prays from her mountain cave, hiding from the Turkish attacks, purportedly against PKK terrorists. "Redeeming God, we long for your reign here on earth as in heaven," prays the Turkish fighter pilot as his crew targets the Kurdish sites supplied by US intelligence. "God of Justice, we pray for your reign here on earth as in heaven," prays the US Jewish officer from the surveillance base chapel before he heads home from work. "God of Mystery, we pray for your reign to come here on earth as in heaven," prays the CPT team as they consider a proposal to accompany displaced families back to their homes in the Kandil Mountains.

God, I don't envy your ears. I don't know how to anticipate how you might surprise all of us. I suspect I will have to change or be changed. Prepare us all for your life in the transformation you are already bringing into our midst. Amen.
Well, blessings of peace to each one of you!

Cliff Kindy

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Libel Charges and Kurdish Mediation

CPT Iraq Reflection: Kurdish Mediation

By Cliff Kindy, 17 January, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, three CPTers joined five independent journalists in a two-hour trip to Halubcha. At ten o’clock a young journalist, Nasir, would face trial. He had been charged with libelling the Peshmerga (Kurdish military) when he wrote that all Peshmerga are full of corruption. After the charges were filed, men dressed in Asaish security uniforms abducted him, beat him and ordered him to never write about the Peshmerga again. CPT attended the trial to make it clear that the international public was concerned about this issue.

Supporters, including CPT, gathered in the investigating attorney’s office. There they learned the judge had delayed the trial, ostensibly because his son had injured his hand. Some speculated he feared the international publicity with CPTers present.

The supporters returned to a hall where negotiations went on without CPT involvement because of language. But soon CPT was engaged to join a delegation heading to the Cultural Center. There the head of the Peshmerga offered a compromise. The charges would be dropped against Nasir in exchange for his retraction of the earlier statement and promise, in the future, to write only with specific evidence about the Peshmerga

It was an exciting arena as the Cultural Center director and the Peshmerga held forth for a clear apology and Nasir’s supporters gave him lots of encouragement to concede that this issue would not make him famous. The 18 supporters included other independent journalists who had faced similar difficulties in writing critical pieces, his wife, a sister, CPT and other local supporters.

Finally a sheet of paper appeared and Nasir started to write. It was a struggle as he crafted his words to say enough and yet not compromise his convictions. Supporters gathered at his side to keep encouraging him. His lawyer eventually wrote more on the reverse side of the sheet. Nasir crossed out, re-wrote and finally got paper with a carbon film to produce a second copy of the final draft.

Falal leaned over to a CPTer and said, “We reached agreement.” The discussion had gone on constantly, seemingly as a cover for Nasir to work unimpeded. Journalists made it clear to CPT that their international presence was key to the effort. “We would not have reached this middle ground without your presence pushing the Peshmerga spokesperson.”

The Peshmerga officer summed up his perspective as he said, “We support freedom of speech. We accept Nasir’s apology.” Later CPT heard there was a promise that Nasir would not experience another abduction. Supporters had planned to take him back to Suly with them to keep him safe because he feared another threat on his life.

So, with creative mediation work from two parties and a bit of “support” from CPT, a deal was reached. Nasir does not go to trial or jail, the Peshmerga polishes its image, and another round of Kurdish people building a new future passes into the pages of history.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Open Letter and Suggested Action on Turkish Bombings

Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,

What follows is an open letter the CPT team here is sending to US leaders. It is in response to the US support of Turkey in attacks on Kurdish villages during December. We invite you to read the letter, learn about the issues and respond. You may: 1. Publish the letter as an opinion piece in your local paper. 2. Call legislators to express your concerns about the events. 3. Write your own letter to the editor. 4. Be creative with your own response!

Thank you as CPT tries to take the steps to accompany villagers back to their homes. Blessings of peace to you!


January 15, 2008

An open letter to the United States Administration, United States Department of State and United States Defense Department:

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.