Sophia's Peace Work

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Not many know that there is almost constant bombing going on by the Turkish army targetting simple villagers in northern Iraq. Here is the latest from the Christian Peacemaker Team on the issue:

CPTnet - 8 December 2008
IRAQ: CPTers visit northern villages under siege.

On 28 November, the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq traveled to the village of Hardan and met some of the 450 families from villages displaced by Turkish bombs. The people recounted the Baath regime’s backlash against the 1991 Kurdish uprising, which displaced many of them. They returned in 1992 and rebuilt their villages without assistance. Then in 1995, Turkey bombed them for the first time, and they all fled together.

The families spent two years in tents before an NGO provided each one with six hundred blocks and ten cement bags. The years 2003-07 were quiet. New roads and bridges were built and people were able to return to their home villages to farm and make a living. But in February 2008, Turkey bombed their homes again with the help of U.S. military intelligence and destroyed bridges to prevent people from accessing their crops. Villagers told CPTers, “Life is very hard here because we have no income.” Continuous bombing in the area of the Korazhar Mountains forced the people of 400 villages to flee. CPT heard and saw reconnaissance planes while in Hardan.

The team passed several abandoned villages on their way to one called Trwanish where they met an uncle and his nephew harvesting apples next to the ruins of a school. Both had lived there and told how their village has suffered multiple attacks by the previous regime and Turkey. At least ten people died there in 1998 and orchards were burned three times. Nearby were rows and rows of houses built by the government in the mid-nineties. Two thousand people once inhabited them but all but a few had left because of recent violence. A Turkish military base sits on a hill close by and CPTers learned that whenever people begin to move back or harvest the attacks start.

At the end of their visit, CPTers came to a bridge near the border, beyond which fourteen villages lie empty. Over the hill was Turkish artillery. Local security told CPTers that even in the midst of ongoing fighting some people return in the spring to tend to the land.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where is the Iraqi Shoe-thrower, Muntadar Al Iraqi (formerly Al Zaidi)?

After calling President Bush a dog and throwing both shoes at him, Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who works for Baghdadiya News, may have gone missing. I hope he's ok.

In an article yesterday on the BBC website, Muntadar's bureau chief stated, "I
am trying to reach Muntadar since the incident, but in vain. His phone is
switched off" (Read the article dated 01:02 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008).

The Iraqi power structure is often democratic in name only and they view his actions as an embarrassment. Even though the people in power opposed Saddam they were also raised in his world and tend to operate the same way he did. Yet Muntadar's actions brought a smile to many a face here and abroad ... and prompted a chortling email from my family members who got a kick out of seeing our President come face to face (face to shoe anyway) with someone who had the courage to speak honestly about a death and destruction of the war in Iraq. This is, afterall, a topic that Bush never fails to ignore, but for which he must be held accountable. If for nothing else then pure and simple hubris.

Here is another article on the current status of Muntadar.