"Children don't want to sleep in their home."
Turkey bombed the Kurdish village of Chame Rebatke in the Amedi district of Iraqi Kurdistan on 03 September 2018. This is the first time in two years that the village itself has been bombed, though bombing nearby has been continuous over the years. Prior to the missile strikes, local villagers from Chame Rebatke and other nearby villages report that drones fly overhead daily. These drones are noisy and an invasion to people’s lives; though beyond the drones nuisance, also make the villagers fearful to leave their homes. “Lives of farmers are completely different than people in the city” states Zaya, a farmer of Chame Rebatke, “We need to go out; we need to get our harvest.” Turkey has been bombing Iraqi Kurdistan for decades, claiming that they are targeting armed groups in the mountainous regions of Kurdistan. However, these bombings have been occurring the last 30 years, and those who are most impacted are peaceful, Kurdish civilian populations.
On the night of 03 September, a Turkish rocket shook the village of Chame Rebatke, landing just outside village limits on a mountain a few hundred meters away. The entire village woke, and all families came out to see what had happened. Five minutes later, another Turkish rocket struck within the village of Chame Rebatke, breaking windows, causing structural damage to buildings, and shaking the ground beneath the feet of the villagers. The impact of the rocket caused people to fall to the ground because of the wave of the explosion. One villager close to the point of impact fell, and if he had not, “shrapnel would have wounded or killed him,” says Zaya.
It seems that fear, terror, and destruction are the remnants in the village of Chame Rebatke. Since the night of the bombing, everyone is afraid to leave their homes and be seen by drones flying overhead. Children are alarmed now by the sound of doors shutting, traumatized from the experience of Turkish bombing in their village. Ninos, a villager from Chame Rebatke, says that “My children don’t want to sleep in their home, so we moved them to their uncle’s home in Erbil” (Erbil is a larger city, where there is no bombing within city limits.) Local leaders say that if bombing continues, everyone will leave the village, their home, their livelihood, if they can afford to do so. Once people leave, very rarely do they return.
The missiles on the night of the 3rd also destroyed the villagers’ sesame crop, resulting in a loss of income that families rely on for the entire year. The bombings and fear of future bombings also stunts the growth of the village. “We can’t invest in any projects. We are worried that if we start and bombing starts, who will compensate us for that project?” The damage done to people’s bodies, homes, lands, and crops are never compensated, so it is a constant struggle simply to survive as a village being bombed by Turkey, with no opportunity to thrive.
Turkish attacks on Kurdish civilian populations are inexcusable, in violation of international law. Turkey is violating United Nations General Assembly’s resolution 217A of the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, against the Kurdish people, largely through the 3rd and 12th articles, which are as follows:
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 12: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Such attacks by Turkey against Kurdish peoples also violate the United Nations General Assembly resolution 44/25 Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 through at least the following articles:
Article 16: 1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.
Article 38: 1. States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child.