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Trapped in Qandil Mountains: Let’s move to stop Turkish atrocities against civilians

Today, we, a group of friends, decided to go to Qandil Mountains for a picnic [Seyrani Kurdi], something many Kurds do during Fridays. We thought that Turkish fighting jets would not pound Qandil during Fridays as many people in different areas take their Fridays to the civilian areas of Qandil as during Springs the area is one of the beautiful areas of Kurdistan for having picnics. But Turkish air attacks destroyed our day.

While driving, we passed by the villages Turkish airstrikes have destroyed. On August 2015, a Turkish air attack killed eight civilians, including a pregnant woman in the village of Zargeli.

While having lunch — as usual Dollma — Turkish air strikers started flying over us. We did not take it seriously as we did not think the barbaric Turkey would bomb during Fridays. But we were wrong, so wrong.

After having lunch, we were about to make tea. All in a sudden, Turkish fighting jets returned. This time we all felt frightened. We looked at each other, and we realised our situation was dangerous. In minutes, we put everything on our cars. We did not have 4wheel drive cars, that put us in even a more dangerous situation as we should have driven back very slowly. Although you could be targeted by Turkish fighting jets in matter of minutes.

While driving back, only a kilometer or so ahead of us, the first raid pounded the village of Bokriskan. We organised to stop our cars and hide ourselves under the trees. Hiding ourselves under the trees lasted for 30 minutes, then we told by the villagers to move on. At that time second raid rained bombs over the village. We were encouraged by a villager to leave the area as soon as possible.

We drove back in the terrible road, I have never driven my car as I did this time. We managed to get to the main road. We were told by the locals to leave the area straightly. We drove and managed to leave the area. We stopped over a hill where we were able to see the Turkish bombardment over the villages. Almost 15 raids in a matter of hours pounded Qandil.

This is the situation of thousands of people who are living in Qandil mountains. Since the Turkish bombardment has started, mostly civilians have been the victims. The PKK cannot be hurt through bombardment, but civilians. Hundreds of villagers of departed to the cities. Dozens of people have been so far killed, and the death toll continues.

Receb Tayyip Erdogan’s war against Kurds in Kurdistan of Turkey has not only hurt Kurds there, but the Kurds of Kurdistan Region of Iraq, too. Although Iraq continuously calls on Turkey to withdraw its forces in Iraq and Kurdistan Region, Turkey has ignored Iraqi calls. Not only that, Turkey continuously violates Iraqi air. Turkey severed its relations with Russia claiming that Russian jet violated Turkish air, but Turkey violates Iraqi air on daily bases. Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari received Turkey’s Ambassador to Iraq Faruq Qaymaqchi yesterday. Al-Jaafari has reiterated Iraq’s unchanged opposition on deployment of Turkish forces inside Iraqi territory. In the past, Iraqi Government has several times called on Turkey to stop pounding innocent people of border areas.

Turkish General Consul in Erbil a few days ago refuted the fact that Turkey’s bombardment has ever targeted civilians, but today I saw by myself civilians fleeing and their houses were destroyed. The main drinking water project of the village of Bokriskan was targeted today. Here is a video of it filmed by civilians:

I do not call on Iraqi Government to stop Turkey’s atrocities in the border, I am also not calling Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to ask Turkey to stop this cruelties against civilians as the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Masoud Barzani is also part of this politics, but I am calling on the international community to move, as people are being killed and the environment polluted by Turkish airstrikes on daily basis. The United Nations should speak out against Turkey as Turkey is no longer a country ruled by a democratic party and leader. President Erdogan should be stopped before he destroys the whole region.

About the Author
Kamal Chomani is a Kurdish journalist writing on the political affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government and covering Kurdish politics in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey for leading impartial Kurdish media outlets. Chomani has had a regular column for The Kurdistan Tribune since 2010 and previously served on the editorial staff of leading Kurdish political Lvin Magazine and as a former Reporters Without Borders correspondent for the Kurdistan Region. He was shortlisted in the 2013 International Media Awards and holds an MA in English literature in Bangalore University, India. He has also co-founded and The Pasewan (
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