tag ‘Kurdistan’
A day to remember April 8, 2014 | 10:02 pm

Today we joyfully remember the 11th anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam regime! Liberation day is a nation-wide holiday commemorating the day when the American-led forces finally freed Iraq from the Baathist tyranny.

Saddam statue down

To appreciate the date, imagine what it must have meant for an area like Halabja. From 1980 on the town was shelled by the Iranians. It became a war zone. People gradually became used to the hardships and miseries of war. They learned how to survive and developed strategies how to escape the attacks: One of the best options was to hide in the basements. In March 1988 Iranian troops together with Kurdish Peshmerga succeeded to capture the town. The former attackers became the new protectors. But only three days later Saddam’s troups bombarded the town with poison gas. Shortly before the attack the people were warned through public loudspeakers. They expected “just” another bombardment. Many fled in the mountains, and many hid in the basements, as usual. But this time this was a fatal decision. Poison gas is heavier than air, it concentrated on the ground. Countless were killed in the cellars, and countless in the streets.

The whole town became a prohibited zone for more than two years. Only in 1991 it was reopened and the remaining survivors returned. Still they managed to survive, although there were no intact houses, no clean water, no clean food, no electricity, and not even medical service which was desperately needed given all the people suffering from the various late-time effects of the poison gas. Then in 1993 the civil war between the two major Kurdish factions began. Halabja was one of the epicenters of the fightings. When the civil war ended in 1997, a radical Islamist group named Ansar al-Islam took over the area and continued their brutal and crazy reign until they were finally ousted by the invading American troups in 2003. It is only 11 years that the region has been living without war and constant fear. We remember.

Silent Revolution March 27, 2014 | 08:53 pm

Her Report portraing Wadi’s Iraq Co-ordinator Falah Murad:

Falah Murad Shakarm is a founder of the Zhyan group that endeavors to shed light on women’s issues in Iraqi Kurdistan, and particularly focuses on the eradication of honor killings. “In the last two years we organized more than 30 protests and public meetings for raising awareness about women’s rights,” he said. “Today 26-3, when I’m busy answering you, I presented a case in court on behalf of the Zhyan group [in which a] husband killed [his wife] after he was released with [a pardon] decree in 2012.”

If there is hope for Kurdish women, it lies with activists like Falah Murad Khan Shakarm. He’s lived through all of the March’s, surviving the March 1988 chemical bombings in Halabja and the March 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein in Rania. He’s lived through this March, hoping for women’s rights with the Nawroz New Year, and he’ll be fighting next March, and every month in between.

“I think women in Kurdistan started their silent revolution against all back-worded morals and the patriarchal system…but I see hope and people now are more educated,” he said. Still, he continued, “Women in Kurdistan, Iraq and all of the Middle East need freedom, respect and they need to be accepted us human beings. They need an environment with rule of law to protect them and they need to be present in all fields of life. They need an independent economy and less of a patriarchal system.”


Why are so many Kurdish women setting themselves on fire? March 20, 2014 | 12:16 pm

The Economist runs an article about women comitting suicide in Iraqi-Kurdistan and quotes Falad Murad Shakaram, Wadi’s Iraqi project coordinator:

ON MARCH 8th, while the world celebrated International Women’s Day to recognise progress in women’s rights, two women in Iraqi Kurdistan set themselves on fire. Self-immolation as a dramatic and deadly form of protest by women is known across the Middle East, from Egypt to Pakistan. But it has become alarmingly common in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. By some estimates self-burning has claimed the lives of as many as 10,000 women, including girls as young as 13, since the region gained autonomy in 1991.

 “I can say it has happened in every family,” says Falah Muradkan-Shaker of the Kurdish NGO WADI, which tries to tackle violence against women in all its forms. The phenomenon can only be understood in the wider context of women’s rights in Kurdistan, he says. Survivors of self-burning often explain that they felt trapped in traditional, arranged marriages, which in some cases means they were betrothed at birth to cousins or tribal kinsmen. A majority have also faced some form of domestic violence whether by fathers, husbands, or in-laws.

Honour killings by male family members are still common in Kurdistan, despite laws aimed to protect women. Mr Muradkan-Shaker says this leads many Kurdish women to view their families not as protectors but as “people who might attack you at any minute.” Unable to leave abusive marriages for fear of being killed by their partners or families, and without government support for vulnerable women, victims turn to suicide. “She feels she is dead,” Mr Muradkan-Shaker explains. “So she says, ‘I’m already dead; let’s make the process faster.’”

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Halabja Day March 16, 2014 | 11:03 am

Finanznöte March 14, 2014 | 11:04 am

Kurdistan Parliament member Ezat Ismail, PUK fraction, has said that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) financial crisis will continue for years as government deficit is skyrocketing each year. The MP said that, even if Baghdad sends the money that’s due every month, the KRG still can’t afford to meet the payments and will need loan. At the same time, the Kurdistan Contractors Union warned KRG officials that the payment crisis that will jeopardize the future of investment projects. The Union stated that KRG’s current obligation in unpaid salaries already exceeds $1 billion.


8th of March Demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan focusing on Honor Killings March 9, 2014 | 12:01 pm

8th of March Demonstration in Suleymaniah

On International Women’s Day, the 8th of March,  Zhyan group, a Suleymaniah based network of Women Right’s organizations WADI is a founding member of, organized a couple of protests and demonstrations.

They first gathered in Said Sadeek, a town south of Suleymaniah, to commemorate two girls, who recently became victims of a so called honor killing. Thousands of women in Iraqi Kurdistan were killed during the last decade, Zyhan criticized,  while the Government does not investigate properly. Although the Kurdish Parliament issued a progressive law against all forms of domestic violence in 2011 police and prosecutors do fail to implement it. Therefore Zyan blamed the government of being responsible for the killings. In January they submitted a list of demands to the government on how so called honor killings and other forms of violence against women should be combated, but till now not even got a reply.

In the afternoon Zhyan called for a protest march in Suleymaniah. Hundreds of demonstrators joined while members of various organizations and MPs gave speeches.

More pictures

Support for the Implementation of Law Nr. 8 to Combat Violence against Women in the Kurdish Region March 4, 2014 | 12:32 am

With support from the US consulate in Erbil, WADI implemented a three-months project to support the implementation of law No. 8 which outlaws violence against women in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

During the project two publications and a special calendar were produced which aimed at introducing the law to the public. In the first publication the text of the law against domestic violence was printed with 4000 copies in the three languages Kurdish, Arabic & English. The second publication is a guide for Stopping FGM with 3000 copies printed. And the last one is 2000 copies of a calendar designed and carved by the famous Kurdish artist Rostam Aghala. These publications were distributed in the 12 seminars and many other events in the Kurdish region.

In a second step of the project 12 meetings were held in different regions of KRG focusing on the three areas Halabja, Ranya and Garmyan. The aim of these meetings was to make the domestic violence law known and to spread awareness among people. In discussions people shared their thoughts about the law and how they will deal with it. In total 388 people participated in the meeting, 326 women and 62 men.

In the region of Garmyan region, the Director of the department for domestic violence Ms. Lameea and the local NGO-network NBO could be won to participate in organizing four seminars.

This project got huge media interest and during the project six satellite channels, four radios and two newspapers covered the activities.

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Tunneled Democracy February 8, 2014 | 07:57 pm

Prevailing political and intellectual theories have it that democratic regimes are based on certain cultural, societal, and ethical foundations. Still, the political regime in Kurdistan can be described as a “tunneled” democracy, as it lacks the three most important pillars of any democratic regime: an independent judiciary, professional police and army, and independent and professional media. Some in Kurdistan – and political elites are content with leaving it at that – believe that the available freedoms, the possibility of holding parliamentary and municipal (and, implicitly, “presidential”) elections, and the formation of a government where power is shared among parties is a convincing-enough form of democracy. Others adhere to the outdated notion that a change in political roles is essential to the establishment of a democratic regime.

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Kurdistan’s Political System: Coming Major Controversy February 8, 2014 | 11:03 am

A must read from Mohammad Hussein about the controversy, if Iraqi-Kurdistan should transform into a parliamentary system:

I know it is not easy to build a democratic government just through an appropriate constitution, but the right constitution could be a useful tool for preventing despotic rule. A presidential system could work if there are strong, active political parties, free and independent media, NGOs and active civil societies, but unfortunately these are non-existent in Kurdistan. Kurdistan’s society is really vulnerable to the danger of a strong president due to already “rising authoritarianism, absence of financial transparency and increasingly evident gap between the haves and the have-nots in Kurdish society,” as described by Denise Natali, a specialist in Iraq, regional energy issues and the Kurdish problem (Al-Monitor) (…)

Back to the risks of a presidential system, another factor is the structure of Kurdistan’s political parties. In Kurdistan, all political parties, except the Gorran movement to some extent, are based on a Stalinist model of “centralist democracy,” which means a hierarchy of power from the president to the local committees inside the parties. The structure is not based on a democratic tradition of campaigning and competitions, dialog and real political participation. On the contrary, the parties are just channels to produce charismatic leaders who always expect people’s blind-following. The leaders have proved that they won’t be able to create any hope for building real democracy as much as they are skillful to prompt civil war, stealing from the public budget, and polarizing the societies about some tribal interest and identities.

With this political tradition, it is clear how a strong president could threaten Kurdistan’s hopes for democratic governance. I know it is too naive to think that a parliamentary-elected president could guarantee a democratic government, but parliamentary accountability would make the president’s evolution towards direct dictatorship more difficult.

Feb 6th: Many media reports on our work and FGM in Asia February 7, 2014 | 09:35 pm

On February 6th, the eleventh international Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation, a number of media outlets have picked up on the topic of Female Genital Mutilation in Asia. Many non-governmental und international organizations tackling FGM, including the World Health Organization, still don’t mention the existence of FGM in many Asian countries. Breaking the silence is a first step to saving millions of girls in these countries from being mutilated. WADI and Hivos stressed this in their press declaration on this year’s February 6th. Therefore, we are happy that many journalists have now brought out this message. In several cases Stop FGM Middle East and WADI were able to provide information.

Al Jazeera Turkey came to Wadi’s office in Suleymania in North Iraq and spoke with victims of FGM. The film also describes the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan and the successful campaign against FGM.

De Vokskrant, the largest newspaper of the Netherlands also reported on the work of Wadi in Iraqi Kurdistan on February sixth. On February 7th, they ran a long story on FGM in Indonesia, underlining the importance to stop ignoring the brutal tradition in Asia.

Y-Magazin, an Omani English language culture and lifestyle magazine, ran a large feature article on FGM in Oman quoting the activist Habiba al Hinai, presenting her study and mentioning Stop FGM Middle East mission in Oman.

The Iraqi Kurdish channel KNN interviewed Wadi’s women project coordinator Souaad Abdelrahman in Suleymania. And the Kirkuk Torture Center published a declaration condemning FGM.

Community Dialogue: No to FGM … Men’s Session February 5, 2014 | 03:26 pm

WADI conducted a couple of community dialogues about Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdistan. This project was supported and funded by UNICEF.

Last week one of the first discussions with men took place in Kalar. Without the support of men campaigns against FGM are only partly successful. Therefore Wadi is planning to hold many more of these meetings.

Cross Border Assistance February 2, 2014 | 07:49 pm

Through partners WADI is helping to implement some projects in Syrian Kurdistan like a playbus, a community radio station etc…

Wadi’s accountant Kumry, who is originally from Syria, helped to make this small film explaining how these projects work and translating from Sorani Kurdish to Kurmanshi and Arabic.

This film is a small example of cross border help:

Islamisten ohne Islam January 31, 2014 | 09:03 pm

Scheint ganz so, als waere es momentan nicht besonders in, sich als politische Partei in Kurdistan auf den Islam zu berufen. Zwar sind das noch vereinzelte Stimmen, dass sie sich allerdings solches Gehoer zu verschaffen moegen, zeigt doch, dass zumindest in Irakisch-Kurdistan der Islamismus an Attraktivitaet verliert:

Nazim Abdulla, a senior member of the Kurdistan Islamic Group led by Ali Bapir, has recently called on the party to drop the term “Islamic” from its name in order to strengthen its presence on the political scene. He warned that the Islamist group—colloquially referred to as Komal—might be losing potential supporters due to some Kurds being intimidated by the “Islamic” nature of the group. Abdulla said it was important to clarify that the Kurdistan Islamic Group was seeking to serve the interests of all Kurds “regardless of their ideological views or background.” (…)

Kurdistan’s other main Islamist party, the Kurdistan Islamic Union, has also witnessed similar calls. A senior member of the party, Abu Bakr Ali, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he personally had proposed dropping the term “Islamic” from the party’s name at a recent party conference, adding that his proposal had failed to win majority support. (…)

“The idea is to expand the political operation of the party, and so by deleting this characterization of the party, the party will be viewed as being more inclusive, and we will be able to attract supporters from all strata of society,” he said.

Community Dialogue: No to FGM January 27, 2014 | 12:22 pm

Currently WADI is conducting a couple of community dialogues about Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdistan. This project is supported and funded by UNICEF.

Yesterday in Bastora in Arbil Governorate a lot of the participating women for the first time had the chance to learn about the new law against domestic violence and the negative effects of FGM.

In the end of the session they were asked to raise their hands if they believe one should stop with FGM.

Here’s their answer:


Succesfull protest of Women’s Rights group January 26, 2014 | 08:51 pm

For Friday night the NGO network Zhyan group has called to protest in front of the Parliament’s building of Iraqi-Kurdistan in Suleymaniah. With the slogan Start Dealing With Crimes Against Women in Iraqi-Kurdistan they present a list of demands to the Kurdish Parliament and Government.

Around 200 people attended the event and fifty stayed all night long. Dozens of parliamentarians joined for open discussion and the local media broadly reported, for example here.

In front of the Parliament Building

In front of the Parliament Building

More pictures:

Inside the tent the protesters set up

Inside the tent the protesters set up


Falah Murradkhin from WADI reads a statement of Zhyan Group to the media

Falah Muradkhin from WADI reads a statement of Zhyan Group to the media

Königsmacher in Teheran January 15, 2014 | 05:57 pm

Der Einfluss des Iran auf die Regierung in Irakisch-Kurdistan wächst weiter. Seit die USA kein Interesse mehr am Irak oder Irakisch-Kurdistan zeigen, übernimmt sukzessive der Iran die Rolle der Schutzmacht. So reisten Vertreter der kurdischen Parteien kürzlich nach Teheran, um sich dort Ratschläge  für die Regierungsbildung zu holen. besonders die PUK steht der iranischen Regierung traditionell sehr nahe.

Upon PUK’s request, Tehran leaders propose for the caretaker PM, Nechirvan Barzani, to form the new government cabinet based on the PUK-KDP Strategic Agreement. Barzani has been also told that Tehran has concerns about the opposition parties’ insistence on the governmental positions in the new cabinet.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK and Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP delegations are on a two-day visit to Iran to meet with Iranian officials on various issues.

According to PUK’s official news sources, the PUK delegation consists of Kosrat Rasul, Barham Salih and Hero Ibrahim. KDP’s delegation is led by Nechirvan Barzani. It is said that Barham Salih first proposed the PUK and KDP’s visit to Iran.

Lvinpress received information revealing that the main aim of the visit is to discuss with Iranian officials various issues such as KRG cabinet formation, internal issues facing PUK, Kurdish-Shia relations and deteriorating situations in Iraq.

After all, the formation of Kurdistan Regional Government KRG cabinet won’t be different from the structure that Iran is supposed to propose.

New Study Found High FGM Rate in Erbil/Kurdistan January 11, 2014 | 01:48 am

A statistical study to estimate the prevalence of female genital mutilation (FGM) among women in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil, revealed a rate of 70.3% (self-reported), respectively 58.6% based on clinical examinations. These results match quite accurately with Wadi’s findings published in its comprehensive 2009 survey. Wadi found 63% of the women in Erbil governorate affected.

The newly published study was carried out in the delivery rooms of the Maternity Teaching Hospital and the maternal care units of 14 primary health care centers between 2007 and 2009. It was produced by medical professionals in cooperation with the General Directorate of Health.

According to the study, most perpetrators justified the practice with references to the cultural tradition while another large part prefered to describe it as a religious obligation. Wadi came to similar results.

However, although both studies were produced during the same period of time, they differ much in the proportion of FGM supporters. While Wadi identified a mere 3.4%, the newly issued study found that more than one third supported the practice and would mutilate their daughters.

Another alarming result is that only 30% of the interviewed women knew about the negative health consequences of FGM

PUK Offizieller wegen Mordverdacht verhaftet January 7, 2014 | 04:50 pm

A source in Sulaimaniyah in Kurdistan Region said on Tuesday, that a leader in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Mahmoud Sangawi was arrested Tuesday night in Kalar on charges of killing anti-corruption Kurdish journalist Kawa Germyani who was killed on On December 5, 2013, outside his home in Kalar district by unidentified gunmen. “Sangawi and after coming to the investigation courthouse, the judge decided to arrest him after two hours of interrogation,” local news reported. “Sangawi has told the judge on the basis of being a major military rank and demanded to return to the Ministry of Peshmerga to be arrested there, but the judge rejected the request and decided to arrest him until the completion of the investigation in the case”. the source added.


Iraqi Kurdistan’s security forces kill Kurdish protester January 4, 2014 | 01:26 am

Demonstrations spilled into a second day in the Kurdish town of Said Sadiq on Friday, after one protester was killed and several dozen were injured in clashes with Kurdish security forces the previous day.

A Rudaw reporter on the scene said that the demonstrators are demanding the release of 27 people who were detained on Thursday, when protesters faced off against security forces, attacking government buildings, burning tires and exchanging volleys of stones with the police. Peshmerga units have been rushed in to control the situation and anti-riot police are reportedly using tear gas as they chase protesters into back alleys. Friday’s protests started after the dead protester, 24-year-old Bryar Hassan, was buried at the town’s main cemetery. Mourners took to the streets following the funeral.


Ganz große Koalition January 3, 2014 | 01:25 am

In Irakisch-Kurdistan wird es nun die ganz große Koalition geben: alle im Parlament vertreten Parteien werden an der Regierung beteiligt sein. Und auch die Söhne, Neffen und Onkel werden ihren Posten bekommen:

Iranian media recently revealed that Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani appointed three deputies, and Qubad Talabani -the son of Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani – will be the first deputy of the prime minister in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) bloc, the second and third deputies will be for Gorran (Change Movement) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

“The position for parliament speaker will be for PUK with KDP deputy, but Arsalan Bayiz who was former Parliament Speaker on PUK bloc, cannot nominate himself for that position again,” Iranian media claims.

The KDP will have seven ministries, Gorran four and PUK three, two for Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and the other three parties will have one ministry each.

Opposition dagegen wird es im Parlament keine mehr geben.

From an Anfal survivor to a victim of free speech December 31, 2013 | 01:55 pm

Aram J. Sabir about the assassination of Kawa Germiyani:

The common denominator between Kawa and those previously assassinated is the fact that their publications contained criticism of powerful members of the PUK and KDP leadership. Kawa talked about the involvement of two PUK politburo members in corruption. Here we have learned that the writers are assassinated, not because they have criticised the political parties but the bad practices of the powerful individuals within them. This is telling us that there are individuals within the political parties who have formed dangerous mafia-like bands, willing to take extreme measures – including assassinations – without any due-regard to the law and government, in order to ensure that their corruption and epic-oil-related interests remain intact.


Suicide in Women Shelter December 31, 2013 | 12:22 am

A woman in the Suleymania women’s shelter committed suicide by burning herself on 29th December 2013.  This caused a fire in the shelter and two more women living in the shelter were injured by the fire.

This shelter meant to protect women who are victims of domestic violence was opened by WADI in 1999. In 2002, responsibility was taken over by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

Since then WADI has been monitoring the conditions in this and other women’s shelters which are now operated by the government in Kurdistan. Conditions have been constantly deteriorating since the government took over responsibility starting from the poor state of facilities to a lack of counseling.

In 2010, WADI published a report about the conditions of women shelters and suggested many recommendations to the government and the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs but to avail.

This accident is a result of this neglect. According to law number 8 for combating violence against women, every woman should have access to a shelter for protection. The prime minister mentioned in his speech only on 25th November that shelters are available.

However, we see in reality that they don’t serve their purpose. We feel sorry for the life of this victim and we wish other women to recover soon and hope that this accident fastens the process of reform in women shelters in Kurdistan.


A Tribute to Kawa December 10, 2013 | 09:04 pm

Let me begin with the latest breaking story from the ‘Other Iraq’. Like the weeks and months and years before, we turned on our televisions and there was that bright redline on the bottom of the screen. What could it be now? We are quite accustomed to these redlines by now. They usually inform us about something tragic—suicide bombings, road accidents, latest from the government and countless other negative stories. Lately, these other tragic stories are on the rise. Three days ago the redline read: “Kawa Germyani has been shot in front of his house in Kalar and has died.” People are shot daily all over the globe you may say, what’s the big deal?

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Disabled people in Iraqi Kurdistan angry at removal of protest December 10, 2013 | 08:14 pm

Disabled people in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region have decided to take legal action against Kurdistan Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and his ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP.

They are angry at the forced cancellation of their latest demonstration, which they say was carried out by members of security forces belonging to Barzani’s family.

This comes after a group of protesting disabled people were forcibly removed by armed masked men who are believed to be from security forces belonging to the ruling Barzani family.


Iraqi Kurdistan fights female circumcision December 10, 2013 | 04:48 pm

Deutsche Welle about the Campaign against FGM in Iraqi-Kurdistan and Wadi’s Free FGM Village program:

“Circumcision brought us problems. It is much better for husband and wife when it is not happening.” The mokhtar of Twtakal, a small village in Iraqi Kurdistan is very clear about it. The practice of FGM, or female genital mutilation, should be eradicated.

The village chief is proud that his village has stopped circumcising its women, where only two years ago still every mother had it done to her daughters. It was a bad habit, Kak Sarhad told DW. “For men, who have all these layers, it is cleaner. But women don’t have that and don’t need it.”

The elder women of the village do not agree. “It has been done for generations. Our mothers and grandmothers did it. We had no problems with our husbands, no divorces,” say some village women, gathered on the floor in the mokhtar’s house.

Twtakal is one of the six villages that became “FGM Free,” in a project launched by the German-Iraqi organisation WADI. The isolated village which houses 13 families is one of the success stories, and illustrates a slow trend toward a decline in the practice in Iraqi Kurdistan. Until recently, research done by WADI showed an over 60 percent prevalence of FGM in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This summer, Kurdish scientists published new figures that seem to imply smaller numbers of young girls are touched by it, with their percentage down to about 35.

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