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Kurdish Human Rights Project: This is the legacy website of the Kurdish Human Rights Project, containing reports and news pertaining to human rights issues in the Kurdish Regions for 20 years.

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KHRP Conducts Fact-finding Mission in Border Regions

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.


The mission learned that some improvements in the domestic human rights situation have taken place but that many issues are still in need of serious attention. The mission investigated the ongoing practice of unlawful imprisonments and the treatment of detainees and observed that despite some progress, the situation remains acute. Violence against women continues to be among the gravest of human rights violations in the region and as the mission learned, there is an urgent need to find effective ways to deal with the problem. KHRP is greatly concerned about the enduring practice of honour crimes in Kurdistan. The mission members noted that some, albeit by no means adequate, efforts have been made to tackle the issue.

Freedom of expression, conduct of local NGOs and the operation of legal bodies were also examined.  An extensive report on the mission will be published early next year. The report will include information and the analysis from the mission along with recommendations for the improvement of the human rights situation in Kurdistan, Iraq.

KHRP is very pleased with the outcome of the fact-finding mission and will be working closely with its partners in order to act on the information gathered. KHRP is also delighted to have further cultivated links with local bodies and individuals in the region and is looking forward to working together and fostering cooperation in the future.