An excerpt from the monthly update of Weldon Nisly, a retired Mennonite pastor and part-time member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT IK) delegation.
A few years ago, after 25 years as a human rights and women’s rights activist, Gulistan Saeed decided to seek change within the political system. Elected as a Member of Parliament of the KRG, she was granted her request to serve on the human rights committee.
Gulistan welcomed the CPT IK team to the KRG Parliament and listened as we shared the Deraluk families’ sorrow and request for assistance. She promised to take their case to her committee and to an independent Kurdish human rights committee to help the families find their missing loved ones. She also expressed eagerness to work with CPT on future human rights cases and encouraged CPT to bring these Deraluk families to Erbil to meet with other Members of Parliament. She recommended that CPT and the families have a press conference to help the people of Iraqi Kurdistan and the world hear the traumatic impact of Turkey’s cross border bombing of civilians.
In a poignant moment, Gulistan Saeed reminded us that Kurdish people, even Kurdish politicians, have little influence on Turkey. Speaking especially to Rosemarie and me as U.S. citizens, she said that the United States could exert stronger political pressure on Turkey than other nations and urged us to talk to our government. We explained that, a few days earlier another CPT teammate from the U. S., Julie Brown, was in Washington, D.C., meeting with U. S. State Department officials to deliver messages from our Kurdish partners affected by Turkey’s bombardment and call on the U. S. to put pressure on Turkey to stop cross-border bombing in Iraqi Kurdistan. We promised Gulistan Saeed that we will continue to seek support from politicians in the U. S. to call for Turkey to stop bombing civilians.
We lamented that the United States leads the world in imposing militarized responses to political conflicts and defining the war on terrorism which Turkey uses to justify bombing civilians in Iraqi Kurdistan. Confronting U. S. warring madness is always challenging. The current chaos presuming to lead with bellicose bullying and brazen warmongering makes this task seem more futile but also makes Just Peacebuilding more essential.
For the people of the Middle East, where history spans the biblical narrative to the 21st century, issuing genocidal threats and implementing military escalation is not distant empty rhetoric. It is life-threatening militarized meanness and madness. Yet life and love here go on for those who are attuned to the endless warring madness of distant powers while living daily life with a well-honed spiritual detachment.
Our CPT IK team is closely monitoring the warring madness yet goes on with daily life committed to “Building partnerships to transform violence and oppression” while basking in the beauty of the streams and mountains of Kurdistan and enjoying the hospitality of our Kurdish friends.