January 11, 2007, Letter
Dear Friends, Family and All Good People,
A raging snow storm is covering all the plastic bags and litter that get missed by the Philippine street sweepers who are brought into Kurdistan and Iraq as cheap slave labor. The cold temperatures have frozen and burst our water pipes again for the fourth time! That just means we need to carry water in buckets up several flights of stairs for laundry, bathing, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet.
Yesterday we traveled to Sangasar and a village up near the Kandil Mountains that form the border with Turkey. That region has been bombed by Turkey with US-provided intelligence and clearance of airspace over Iraq for those bombing runs. Reports from UN and ICRC document that 6-800 families, over 3000 individuals, have been displaced in the month of December. Injuries have been slight - one woman killed and fewer than ten others injured. The loss of cattle, sheep and goats appraoches 1000. Schools, homes, hospitals and mosques have been destroyed or damaged in the bombings. People traveling in and out of those villages to care for animals still living report daily Turkish flights, but only for surveillance at this point.
My previous blog contains the details of a visit with one of two families we visited yesterday, both who had a family member killed or injured in the bombing. One is renting now in Sangasar and the other is living with relatives in a rural village up against the foot of the mountains. We drove up to the final checkpoint beyond which no one is allowed. That is the region we are asking to accompany villagers home as a way to open a safe space for their return and to allow negotiation to replace military action between the PKK and Turkey/US.
The mountain scenery we saw rivals that of Montana and Colorado in the U.S! These rugged mountains seem to have shaped Kurds with strength of character, endurance and an expansive vision of what is possible.
We have a meeting tomorrow with international and Kurdish NGO's to pursue our proposal to accompany villagers as they return. The big barrier is still clearance from the Ministry of the Interior and security passes from Asaish. We appreciate your prayers for a miracle.
This CPT team is longing for additional personnel to help carry the long term work here in Kurdistan. Perhaps you are being called!! Security is very different from what folks may imagine from what they read and hear about Iraq. I see this project as much safer to operate a CPT project than even Colombia and Palestine where I have also been with CPT.
May the Spirit of Peace Bless You!