Peace Mothers from Maxmur continue their protest against embargo

For four days, mothers from the self-governing Maxmur refugee camp in northern Iraq have been protesting against the KDP’s embargo in place for 49 days.

On 17 July Osman Köse, one of the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT) officials in the South Kurdistan region, was shot and killed in the Huqqabaz restaurant in Hewler. The KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) imposed an embargo on Martyr Rüstem Cudi Refugee Camp (Maxmur) using this incident as an excuse. The camp still remains under embargo which hardly hit the life of the camp's residents. Students could not go to university and workers saw their job affected. Even worse, the embargo had fatal consequences. Fatma Kara and Zeynep Ehmed, two pregnant women, lost their babies because they could not go to hospitals in Hewler. Talks by the Maxmur People's Assembly and the camp's Foreign Affairs Committee about lifting the embargo have yet to yield results.

Last Sunday a delegation of Maxmur Peace Mothers wanted to travel from Maxmur to Hewler (Erbil) and meet there with representatives of KDP and government to solve the embargo problem. However, they were stopped by Public Security Forces (Asayish) of the KDP at a checkpoint located 10 kilometers away from the camp.

The security forces first wanted to block the mothers, then attacked and insulted them. The mothers then started a sit-in in front of the Asayish Office in protest at the harassment they were subjected to. The mothers’ protest has continued for four days now.

"Sick people are dying!"

Peace mother Meryem Kara told the KDP security forces: "Lift the embargo which affects thousands of people. We are all brothers and sisters. The Kurds are one. We have no one but ourselves. Commit to humanity and freedom. Lift the embargo on us. The asayish forces turn back our patients, they do not let them drive for treatment. Pregnant women are not allowed to pass and that is why the babies die in the womb. People with cancer are also sent back, as well as those who need to be operated on. There are no medicines left in the camp. It is not even allowed for medicine to be brought to camp.”

Co-mayor of Maxmur: We will not stop our protest

The co-mayor of Martyr Rüstem Cudi refugee Camp, Leyla Arzu Ilhan, who also takes part in the protest pointed out that the action will not be ended before the embargo is lifted: "The road to Hewler has been closed off for 49 days. We wanted to meet with South Kurdistan government officials but were prevented by the asayish. Our goal is to ensure the lifting of the embargo. We want this unlawful practice implemented against us to be stopped. We want our victimisation to be seen. We will not stop our action unless the hostile policies pursued against us are brought to an end. There can be no justification for the obstruction of mothers, who have dedicated their lives to struggle and whose only goal is the Kurdistan cause and Kurdish national unity.”