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December 2016
Christian Peacemaker Teams - Iraqi Kurdistan 
Stand With Civil Society in Iraqi Kurdistan
Everyone is born with inherent rights. Protecting and promoting Universal Human Rights is essential to building and maintaining peace around the world. The newly autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan is currently unsafe for many activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and members of civil society. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is charged with the safety of all its inhabitants  and the responsibility of safeguarding Universal Human Rights within its borders.  We wish to lift the veil of secrecy around recent killings, beatings  and ongoing attacks on journalists, activists, and members of civil society as well as highlight the seemingly systematic campaign of harassment against those exercising free speech in Iraqi Kurdistan.  We also call upon the Kurdistan Regional Government to actively protect those threatened and pursue parties wishing to harm people exercising their inherent rights within in the region.

The Kurdish Region of Iraq has enjoyed freedom and self-rule governance since the United States invasion of Iraq despite the immense toll the invasion took on people in other areas. However, the Kurdish region is also facing the worst financial crisis in its history. In 2014 the budget was cut by the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Regional Government told its employees that they were unable to pay their salaries. This decision lead to many protests by the governmental workers, especially teachers, demanding that their full salaries be paid and calling for an end to corruption in the public sector. Organizers and teachers peacefully protested for 110 days but beginning in December 2016, the security forces in Sulaimani started using violent means to try to break the teacher’s strike. Many activists and human rights defenders were arrested, beaten, threatened, or had  their property damaged or burnt. Finally, in mid January, 2017, the teachers ended their strike under immense pressure from the security forces. They were assured by the Prime Minister and his deputy no changes would come from the demonstrations. Since the protests ended, the organizers, civil society activists and journalists have faced threats and direct violence. Their families have been terrorized and social media is being used to humiliate them. Along with threats to activists, journalists and religious leaders have also been killed in the region. The government is responsible for its citizens’ security and should respect human rights by creating a space where civil society can act freely to foster and develop a democratic culture in the region without threats, violence and loss of life.

Read more about Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Awat demands safety for himself and his family

Awat Hassan is a teacher, human rights defender and civil society activist. He was also a main organizer of the 110 day nonviolent teachers' campaign  in the city of Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan. Awat and many his fellow teachers peacefully demonstrated demanding their full salaries be paid and asked the government to stop corruption in its institutions. As Awat became known, he also became a victim of a systematic campaign of harassment and threats by local security forces and other unnamed actors. During the protests Awat was unlawfully detained three times by the security forces and his car was burned in front of his house while his family slept inside the home. His nine year old daughter was also detained along with Awat while he was taking her to a sport club. The security forces took Awat and drove his daughter around in their car ultimately leaving her on the side of the road alone. Awat along with the other main organizers have ended their peaceful demonstrations due to immense pressure from the government and local security forces.

Awat says that he is puzzled by reactions of the security forces as he only organized peaceful demonstrations. Awat and other organizers worked hard to maintain the nonviolent nature of the demonstrations throughout the campaign. In of his speeches he said ‘’Even if they threaten or beat or kill us, we will never raise our hands towards the security forces as they are our brothers and sisters’’

Since the demonstrations ended, Awat and his family are scared for their lives due to continuous threats they receive from the security forces and other unnamed people and because it is not uncommon for journalists, religious leaders, and others expressing dissent within the region to be found dead. His children have also been traumatized by the experiences they have gone through.

Learn more about Awat Hassan and his family's struggle through this video. 
We ask you to take a moment to contact the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government and demand that Awat Hassan and his family be protected from those that wish to do Awat harm.  We also ask that the KRG create space for people to exercise their Universal Human Rights, including the right to freedom of speech, throughout the region.
Please send an e-mail demanding protection for Awat Hassan and his family.
Send an E-mail to Prime Minister of the KRG
Send an E-mail to Deputy Prime Minister of the KRG
We would also like  you to post the below message on their Facebook accounts.
@OfficialNechirvanBarzani @qubadtalabaniofficial Dear Sir,

As part of the international community I condemn the harming of activists, journalists and others like Awat Hasan who have been striving to create positive change through peaceful methods around the world.

As Iraq is a signatory of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the Kurdish Government's duty to provide protection to people such as Awat Hassan living within the KRG and to safeguard their inherent human rights including their rights to safety and freedom of speech.

We urge you to do everything within your power to ensure this man's safety including actively perusing those who wish to do him and his family harm so that they may once again enjoy the right to security in their home. 

Kind regards, 

Tweet the below message on their twitter account.

@PMBarzani @qubadjt @DMI_KRG Protect activists, human rights defenders and journalists in the KRG including Awat Hassan and his family. 

Mission: Christian Peacemaker Teams: Building partnerships to transform violence and oppression.
Vision: A world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation.
Values: Christian Peacemaker Teams is committed to work and relationships that: Honor and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality; Strengthen grassroots initiatives; Transform structures of domination and oppression; Embody creative non-violence and liberating love.

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CPT · As Sulaymaniyah · As Sulaymaniyah 46001 · Iraq

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