Sahae Village, Another Forced Move

By: Peggy Gish

Kak Muhammad Sharef talking to CPTers about the bombardments.

Kak Muhammad Sheref sat on a mat in a sitting room of a simple concrete block structure that he built on a mountainside in the relocated village of Shahe.  “This isn’t even a proper house like we once had in our old village,” he told members of CPT, during their visit on 9 August 2017. “When the bombs came last summer, we left immediately, leaving everything in our house, bringing only our herds of animals. Our children were really scared, especially the younger ones.  We don’t feel safe now to go back and get our belongings.”

He described Shahe village, located in the subdistrict of Dinarte in the Akre District of Iraqi Kurdistan, as “one of the oldest villages in the area,” one of the thousands that the Saddam regime destroyed in 1984, forcing the displacement of Kurdish people.  After the fall of Saddam, the families returned and rebuilt their village. Then, over the past three decades of armed conflict between Turkish forces and the PKK along the mountainous border region, Turkey sporadically bombed that area of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shahe was not damaged in these attacks until last summer, on 3 September 2016, when Turkish planes came and bombed inside and around the village, destroying houses and farmland—an estimated 10,000 square meters of farmland and sumac orchards—burned. Their families left immediately, walking about a half hour to this site where they have re-establishing the village, farther from the border.

Rebuilding has been especially difficult since the local government has not helped them with constructing new water and electric systems and the dirt road winding up the mountainside. And since they have not had their own school, they continue to drive their children each day to one in a village nearby.

Turkish forces have periodically bombed in the area since last September, though not close to the buildings in the villages. Many of the other Shahe residents, however, have since moved farther away, leaving the village with only five families. These attacks have not recently killed or injured anyone in this area, but they have created a lot more fear among the residents and more hardship in their daily lives.