Kerim Yildiz and Johanna Nykanen in Sersenk district, Kurdistan, Iraq. Note farmland in background, scorched by Turkish bombardment.
At the end of November, KHRP sent a fact-finding mission to Kurdistan, Iraq to conduct research on the recent human rights developments in the region and to follow up on the findings from the KHRP mission carried out in January 2007. The mission consisted of KHRP’s Executive Director Kerim Yildiz, Legal Officer Catriona Vine, Research Intern Johanna Nykänen, and Tanyel Taysi, who is currently lecturing at the University of Kurdistan-Hewler.
During the 6-day trip, of which one day was committed to NGO training in Sulemanya, the mission delegates travelled extensively around the Kurdistan region meeting with a large number of organizations and individuals. Among them were representatives of the two ruling parties, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), intellectuals, lawyers and human rights activists.
The mission also met with villagers of the Sersenk district in the border regions who have suffered bombardment by both Turkey and Iran during the past months’ tensions. KHRP is extremely concerned about Turkey and Iran’s increasingly aggressive troop build-up on the frontier with Kurdistan, Iraq, particularly following October’s motion in the Turkish parliament authorising cross-border operations. The recent bombardments on civilian-inhabited areas have caused serious disruption for local people, including destruction of property, livestock, arable land and woodland. The psychological effects of such bombardments, particularly on children, are enduring and extremely worrying.