Drying up Kormor's Water of Life

By Weldon Nisly

Springs flowed with the water of life for the village of Kormor. For generations springs supplied abundant water to sustain Kormor's people, plants, and animals in this arid land of the Kirkuk region of Iraqi Kurdistan. No more. All of Kormor's springs have dried up. Where cool spring waters once flowed, now only thistles abound in sun-baked ground.

The flames of fire from the land that has been taken over by Dana Gas. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir 

Kormor's springs flowed with the water of life until Dana Gas arrived. Showing no concern for village water and life, Dana drilled a deep well to draw the water they needed to pump oil and gas out of the ground. Kormor's water of life was sacrificed to the insatiable corporate thirst for profit and global thirst for energy.

After the U. S. occupation of Iraq in 2003, Dana Gas arrived in Kormor. With regional and national political support they confiscated 4,000 dunams of land owned by villagers. Then they closed off 10 km of road for their own use forcing villagers to drive 40 km around the drilling site over rough roads heavily damaged by the company’s semi tankers.

Dana Gas built a large water storage tank just below the village to supply enough water for their own use. Pumping so much precious water from deep underground quickly lowered the water table and dried up all the springs of water that sustained life and livelihood for the villagers. The company provided a much smaller tank and fills it with water to sustain life for the villagers. But most of the water goes to the gas and oil company.

Kak Hassan telling CPTers about his struggle against Dana Gas Company. Photo by: Rezhiar Fakhir

Kormor village leader and CPT partner, Kak Hassan invited the spring 2017 CPT delegation to visit their village to see firsthand the impact of the loss of spring water on the life of the village. CPTers, Rezhiar Fahkir, Annika Spalde, and Weldon Nisly took the 8-member CPT delegation to visit Kak Hassan in Kormor on May 17. Greeted by Kak Hassan and his family, the delegation was ushered into their living room and joined by other villagers. Soon tea and watermelon were served as Kak Hassan began sharing their struggle for survival in the shadow of Dana Gas with their springs of living water dried up.

"I welcome you to my home," Kak Hassan said to the CPT delegation. "And I thank CPT for your solidarity with me and the people of Kormor. I am grateful that CPT accompanied me when I organized a peaceful protest against Dana Gas and was arrested. CPTers were the only ones who accompanied me in my court trial. Our peaceful protest demanded jobs, roads, and schools. Unfortunately, neither Dana Gas nor our government will listen to us. But we are staying here in our home village.”

Kak Mohammed showing the delegates the photos of his land that has been confiscated by Dana Gas. Photo by: Weldon Nisly.

Kak Mohammed and other villagers also shared how Dana Gas has affected them and Kormor. Then Kak Hassan led the CPT delegation on a walking tour to see the dried up springs and the small water tank that now holds the village’s water supply. In contrast, just below the village, Dana built a huge square water tank for their own use. In addition to confiscating their land, closing their road, and drying up their springs of living water, other consequences of Dana Gas are polluting the air, letting rubbish litter the landscape, and a huge crack in the village school caused by the vibration of drilling into the ground. After inflicting so much harm on the people of Kormor, Dana Gas refuses to give jobs to villagers. Instead the company hires workers from nearby cities and even from other countries. At Kak Hassan’s request, CPT promised to investigate Dana Gas further and explore contacting their headquarters in the United Arab Emirates in order to amplify the voice of the people of Kormor with the company and with political leaders.