The Iraqi Civil Society Initiative (ICSSI) and CPT-Iraq jointly wrote to Iraq’s President Barham Salih and Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi imploring them to take immediate diplomatic action to end the Turkish bombing of northern Iraq. Twenty-seven Iraqi organizations and sixteen international organizations co-signed this urgent appeal to protect of civilian lives, their homes and livelihoods.
We worked hard, using all possible means to obtain answers from the President and the Prime Minister. We know that they have received our letter, as it was sent to their offices, to their advisers, to the Minister of Water Resources who promised to deliver the letter to the Prime Minister, and even to Mrs. Sarbakht, the wife of Mr. Barham Salih. Additionally, we sent a copy to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, who also forwarded the letter to the two men.
It has now been more than six weeks. We have not received any response and tragically, the bombing continues to claim more civilian lives. The ICSSI is now publishing the letter and will continue to press for diplomacy to ensure a lasting peace.
To: President Barham Salih
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi
From: The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative and CPT-IK
Date: 1 September 2020
Subject: Urgent need for official Iraqi government response to the suffering of civilians being caused by Turkish and Iranian bombing and related military operations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
In solidarity with the families of Iraqi civilians who have been killed, wounded, displaced, and lost their livelihoods due to Turkish and Iranian military operations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), we the undersigned civil society, human rights and peace organizations write to express our deep concern about the continued bombing of civilian areas and other recent military activity in Iraqi Kurdistan. We ask you, as the President and Prime Minister of Iraq, to lead an effort to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict and an end to military operations in the area.
On the 15th and 17th of June, the Turkish Air Force and Military launched two operations called “Claw-Eagle” and “Claw-Tiger”. As a result, so far, at least 8 civilians have been killed and at least 4 civilians wounded, while villages have been decimated, agricultural lands and orchards burned, and hundreds of families displaced.
This death and destruction are only the most recent instances of civilian suffering. According to CPT-IK’s documentation, since August 2015, Turkish fighter jets, drones, artillery bombardments and gunfire have killed at least 96 and wounded more than 101 Iraqi civilians. Of the 96 fatalities, 18 civilians were killed in the first half of 2020 alone. Iranian bombing has killed 3 and wounded 9 civilians.
The military operations in the KRI emptied hundreds of villages and are causing severe deterioration in the safety and economic security of families whose livelihoods are based on agriculture, animal husbandry and small-scale production and trade. Their lands have become inaccessible or unusable and these families have no other sources of income. Most people, indeed, have been killed or wounded while trying to provide for the basic needs of their families.
As Iraqi citizens and members of international organizations who work for human rights and peace in Iraq, we are deeply concerned by the ongoing military operations’ impact on civilians’ lives and livelihoods in the KRI territory.
The Turkish and Iranian governments are violating Iraq’s territory and sovereignty. For that reason, we believe that the Iraqi government could and should react by pursuing all available international legal and diplomatic channels.
We ask the Iraqi federal government to act, not merely by issuing statements, but by developing a clear strategy and engaging in direct talks with Turkey, Iran and other stakeholders, in order to end the bombings and ensure future peace in the region.
Furthermore, noting the growing presence of Iraqi troops in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, we ask you to consider the negative impacts of this military presence on the lives and livelihoods of the civilians in the area. These bases, the newest ostensibly constructed to enforce the COVID-19 lockdown, now contribute to the lack security of local residents and the economic stability of the region. Despite official KRG promises that the bases would be removed soon, they have not, and Turkey is now apparently planning to build new bases, which will further escalate violence. As a result, tourism in the region has drastically declined; agriculture, animal husbandry, and gathering wild vegetation—principal sources of people’s livelihoods—have become nearly impossible. For these reasons, we believe the Iraqi Army should not locate near villages in the region. It should clearly define its role as protecting civilians and in no way escalate the conflict.
The last decades have seen too much destruction, and too many civilian deaths and injuries in Iraqi Kurdistan. We ask you, as the leaders of Iraq’s federal government, to officially recognize the past and present civilian losses caused by Turkey and Iran’s airstrikes.
We ask Iraq’s federal government to recognize the civilian victims and provide assistance, in cooperation with Kurdistan Regional Government and civil society organizations in the KRI, to those affected by the military operations, including internally displaced people.
We believe it is your responsibility to protect these Iraqi citizens from the destruction caused by the military operations and to end the killing of innocent civilians. We trust that the Iraqi government will act in order to end the conflict by peaceful means and ensure peace in the region.
To contact us:
+964 770 2916487
The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative
Kurdistan – Iraq
Kurdistan Social Forum
Peace and Freedom Organization
STOP Organization for Anti-Corruption
Aweza Organization for General Culture
Reform Institute for Development
Metro Center for Journalists Rights & Advocacy
Roshengeri organization for practicing democracy
Gender Studies and Information Organization
Being Free Organization for Amelioration, Individualism, and Human Development
Dabin Human Rights Organization
Bashur Center for Strategy Investigation
Kurdistan-European Green Organization
Kurdistan Children Lodgment Organization
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Muslim Peace Fellowship
Community of Living Traditions
Rest of Iraq
Tikrit Youth Council
Tikrit Social Forum
The Iraqi Observatory for the Prevention of Violent Extremism
Iraqi Women’s Network
Women for Peace organization
Humat Dijlah Association
Iraqi Network for Social Media
Military Families Speak Out
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
United for Peace and Justice
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Western States Legal Foundation
Rete Kurdistan Italia
Centro Studi Sereno Regis Torino
Cultura e Libertà
CISDA- Coordinamento Italiano di Sostegno alle Donne Afghane
AOI – Associazione Organizzazioni Italiane di cooperazione e solidarietà internazionale
ARCI – Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana
Rete della Pace
International Institute for Nonviolent Action (NOVACT)
Norwegian Social Forum