Border lives: Zharawa- Dignity

From Zharawa: displaced people

From Zharawa: displaced people

Casualties without End

In December 5, 2008, there were still families in Prde Hazwa. CPT sat with a group of elders to listen to their accounts of their situation. Around 12:30 p.m., shelling occurred and CPTers could hear the explosions. The elders concluded that shelling was getting close to the camp, with some explosions as close as a ten-minute walk from the camp. Around 2:0 p.m., there was more shelling. Not far from the camp, a shepherd was injured and his sheep were killed.

The day after the shelling, December 6, the PUK party media website confirmed the attack from Iran but did not mention the civilian injury or loss: “Heavy Iranian shelling against Kurdistan region border areas is ongoing since late Friday . . . PUK Media correspondent reported on the scene. Iranian shellings targeted the Razgai, Shnawa, Maradu, Arkai, and Pshty Basta areas in the Zharawa subdistrict of Pshdar district within Suleimaniya province. The Iranian bombings, which inflicted heavy damages to the border areas, caused panic among the local citizens.”

CPT interviewed Mr. Khalid, a shepherd: “It was in Razgai. I was at Japamo. I was away from the village and I took the sheep to Japamo. They sent three shells that hit the cattle while I was with the sheep . . . I was hurt . . . the piece of shrapnel is still in my back . . . I lost many sheep that day, more than forty . . .”

During the interview, one gentleman told CPT that Mr. Khalid's children were with him. They were waiting for an ewe to give birth which was a very good thing for the farmers. But they didn’t know that they “would go home empty and with an injured father.”

A few days after CPT’s December visit, families who were still able to afford a small house in Zharawa town took in the remaining families.

The KRG announced an agreement with Iran to stop shelling civilian populated villages:

(18 February 2009) Nazum Omer al-Dabbagh, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) representative in Tehran, told PUK Media website today February 18th, 2009 'two meetings were held between the officials of Kurdistan region and Iran, where the tensions in the border areas due to the bombardment were discussed . . . Both sides reached an agreement to stop the Iranian bombardment on the border villages between Kurdistan region and Iran', he added. Al-Dabbagh also said 'the agreement became active in February 14th, 2009. According to the agreement, the Iranian artillery will avoid bombing the villages and populated areas. The villagers, who had left their villages, can now return to their homes.'

In the wake of this announcement, some IDPs returned home to their villages, including Mr. Ali Ahmed, his wife and their one and one-half-year-old son Mohammed, to their home in Razgai. On the evening of March 10, 2009, Mr. Ali, and his wife were in bed with baby Mohammad asleep between them. At 9 p.m., a rocket came through the roof of their house. A piece of the rocket broke off and hit the baby in the head. According to Mr. Ali, “Mohammed never woke up.” Both Mr. Ali and his wife were injured and burned.

Farmers’ Dignity

“I don’t want to go back to see my home and orchard because I can’t do anything for them. I will feel sad to see them.”

“We brought lives back to the villages that Saddam destroyed . . . The people of the village were hospitable and generous. We shared assets with each other and took care of those that were poor. During the time of the sanctions, we shared assets with the people in the nearby cities who were suffering. The people were united and worked together.”

Sitting with a group of women in Prde Hazwa, CPTers listened to their comments: “My village was like a capital city to me. …Before the bombing our lives were very happy, taking care of our animals . . . When the first bombs came I didn't want to leave the village.”

The people brought materials from cities to rebuild their houses, electricity, water systems (both for home and irrigation), gardens, orchards of apricots, figs, walnuts, pears, and daraban (local chewing gum). They devoted themselves to make a paradise: nice shade for the summer, a spring for water, a piece of green to revive lives, and a house to keep the cold winter outside. The villagers shared their wealth with people in need, the poor, or the people of the cities whose lives were devastated by the sanctions imposed on Iraq.

Even though their livelihoods have been destroyed, the villagers do not seek restoration of their losses. They simply want to return home.