Iraq: Open Letter to President Obama

 

In an open letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, CPT-Iraq explained the deplorable situation of villagers and internally displaced persons living in camps whose homes, communities and livelihoods have been destroyed due to bombings by the Turkish military.

From December 2007 until the institution of the Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq, the U.S. military provided intelligence and opened Iraqi air space to Turkish forces along the northern border of the Kurdish Regional Governorate for operations against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).  Since these incursions killed or wounded many civilian villagers and displaced thousands more, the U.S. bears responsibility for having violated international law and the Fourth Geneva Conventions by participating in military actions that targeted civilian populations and, as an occupying power at the time, failing to protect civilians under its control.  Today, the U.S. military continues to supply intelligence for ongoing incursions.

First-hand testimonies from villagers and government officials confirm the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools, bridges, mosques, churches, and hospitals. Turkish bombing has killed sheep and cows which families depend on for their livelihood.

Kurdish residents experience Turkish military bases positioned within Iraqi territory, some as far as 18 miles from the border, as an oppressive occupation.  They say that Turkish soldiers watch their movement, disrupt planting and harvesting, and attack if there is movement around their villages at night.  Iraqi Kurdish officials have asked the Turkish military to leave the bases but lack enforcement mechanisms.

The formation of a new joint commission of U.S., Iraqi Central Government and Turkish officials, which seeks to intensify incursions against the PKK, alarms the Kurdish people even more.  Having experienced the Anfal genocide under Saddam Hussein, they now fear that U.S. support will encourage increased Turkish aggression.

 

The Iraq team asks you to join them in urging President Obama to:

1.    Reverse U.S. policies that aid Turkey's attacks on Kurdish Iraqi civilian populations and pressure Turkey to pursue diplomatic and peaceful solutions to disputes with the PKK.

2.    Pressure Turkey to remove its bases, emphasizing that the "illegal Turkish military presence in Iraqi Kurdistan presents a real threat to the security and stability of Iraq and an unjustified violation against its sovereignty." (quote from Iraqi government report on border incursions.)

The Inquiring Committee of the Iraqi Council of Representatives Concerning the Turkish Aggression recommends that the international community:

1.    Call upon the European Parliament and the European Union to halt Turkish efforts to join the European Union if Turkey continues entering Iraqi territory and violating human rights in the border areas.

2.    Call upon international human rights and peace organizations to file a lawsuit before the European Human Rights Court to condemn Turkish aggression and force Turkey to end its violations.