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Central Office of Children’s First  

29 July 2000

Contact: Soraya Shahabi

Press Release

Condemn the Child Abuse in Iraqi Kurdistan!

The life, future, and safety of children should under no circumstances be the victims of political maneuvers. Children’s future must never be the victim of national and tribal interests

In the second half of July, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) under the leadership of Jalal Talabani attacked the Center for the Defense of Children’s Rights in the city of Sulaimaniya, robbing the Center’s belongings and evicting its resident children. During this raid, the staff were threatened and the children were so terrorized that they ran away, with no news of their whereabouts or even their conditions to date. The Center was shut down.

In another raid in July 21, the PUK has also attacked the women’s shelter and the Center for Independent Women Organization in the same city. The PUK’s armed personnel arrested all the women with their children who were there due to the threat of assassination and honor killings and family violence. They closed down these two organizations, confiscated all their belongings and the confidential files that were kept on the women and children. To date, there is no news of the situation of these women either.

The Center for the Defense of Children in Sulaimaniya, which was founded by a group of activists of children’s rights in February 1999, is a member of the Children First campaign, and has been involved in organizing for the improvement of the situation of children in the Iraqi Kurdistan. Despite all the pressures and lack of funding, the Center soon became a force in the defense of children, gaining such achievements as:

  • Custody of five children: (Children First can not release the names in fear of the children’s safety)
  • Outreach to assist personal, family and social problems of 12 children: 4 cases of unattended children, 3 cases of chronic family violence, psychological abuse, and physical abuse, one case of violence and threat by armed personnel, one case of forced labor, and 3 cases of family problems. (Children First can not release the names in fear of the children’s safety).
  • Provision of medical services to 10 children: 7 cases of physical, 1 case of psychological nature, 2 cases of psychological problems due to compulsory religious practices and threats from the Islamic groups. (Children First can not release the names in fear of the children’s safety).
  • Research and Investigation: The center found 200 cases of violence against children in Sulaimaniya, including beatings and threats in the educational establishments, and 500 cases of physical, psychological, and social warfare against the children. The following cases were revealed by the investigations:

1- One child ,Azad Abubekir, had been beheaded; 2- Dana Muhammad Khursheed, a young girl who had been sexually assaulted before being suffocated; 3- Hardi Nouraddin, a young boy who had been killed by the beating of his teachers; 4- Sexual assault and death of a girl named Shahla Mustafa, a young girl who was sexually assaulted and murdered; 5- Aram Ismail another murdered child; 6- Hawall Karaman Ismail, yet another murdered child; 7- Dana Kadir Rasoul, savagely murdered and beheaded; 8- A case of a sexually assaulted child (Children First can not release the names in fear of the children’s safety); 9- Khwazyar Rebwar Osman, died because of lack of medicine and poverty.

  • Positive actions to eradicate violence imposed on children, monitoring the situation of children and seeking international support:

In order to raise awareness, the Center has:

- distributed tens of thousands of flyers, press-releases and newspapers, held tens of seminars and meetings, on a variety of issues and problems faced by children namely, their lives, personalities, education, violence against children, battering and their effects on children’s life and health. The Center has also published a periodical and broadcast radio programs to identify children as precocious and valued people.

- organized photo and paining exhibitions, reflecting the situation of children.

- published the Declaration of Children’s Right in Kurdistan, in accordance with UN convention on the rights of children.

The Center has maintained continuous contact with the authorities, including the Board of Education, police and many government officials in order to put pressure on the PUK to improve the situation of children.

The Center has been in contact and held meetings with UNISEF, Amnesty International, and international organizations that defend children, in order to gain international support for Iraqi children.

      • Further actions: The followings are in the agenda of the Center’s urgent tasks:

- Building daycare, nursery and playgrounds;

- Setting up a shelter for abandoned children;

- Monitoring and reporting on the violence towards children in schools and educational establishments;

- Setting up arts, sports and recreational activity centers in districts and cities.

The above humanitarian efforts of the Center to rescue and save the lives of the children have been the victim of political encounter between the PUK and the Worker-communist Party of Iraq and. The PUK has justified its attacks on children’s rights by claiming that the Center has been founded by the members and activists of this Party. In enmity with the Party, the PUK’s armed personnel have raided and shut down the Women’s Shelter and the Center of Children’s Rights, and have attacked the children protected by the Center.

Freedom loving people!

Defendants of children!

The life, future, and safety of children should under no circumstances be the victims of political maneuvers. Children’s future must never be the victim of national and tribal interests. Condemn the PUK for attacking the rights of children and declare with us that:

  • PUK is responsible for the lives of the children who were in custody of the Children’s Center, and those children who were evicted with their mothers from the Women’s Shelter;
  • PUK should return all the confiscated properties of the Children’s Center and pay compensation for the losses or damages to the Center;
  • Those who took part in the raids of the Children’s Center should be prosecuted in an open public hearing;

Please send your letters of condemnation to the addresses below, together with a copy of your correspondences to the Children’s First.

 

www.puk@puk.org

PUK- UK
5 Glasshouse Walk
London SE1
Tel: +44 207 840 0640,
Fax: +44 207 840 0630

PUK – USA

444 North Capitol Street
NW, Suite 837
Washington DC 20001
Tel: +1 202 637 2496
Fax: +1 202 637 2723.

PUK-France

23 rue Louias Pouey
72800 Puteaux,
France
Tel: +33 1 477 87598
Fax: +33 1 391 65779.

PUK –Turkey

Tel: +90 312 440 2199
Fax: +90 312 440 4549.

SAMPLE LETTER,

Address

Date

I / my organization am / is writing to condemn (PUK) the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s

Violations of children and human rights. I am outraged that PUK under the leadership of Jalal Talabani attacked the Center for the Defense of Children’s Rights in the city of Sulaimaniya, evicting its resident children, the children were so terrorized that they ran away, with no news of their whereabouts or even their conditions to date, and the Center was shut down. I / my organization demand(s) that the PUK respect children rights by:

  • Taking responsibility for the lives of the children who were in custody of the Children’s Center, and those children who were evicted with their mothers from the Women’s Shelter;
  • Returning all the confiscated properties of the Children’s Center and paying compensation for the losses or damages to the Center.
  • Those who took part in the raids of the Children’s Center should be prosecuted in an open public hearing.

 

Signed:                                   ______________________________

Name:                                     ______________________________

Organization (if any):                                           ______________________________

Address:                                                ______________________________

E-mail:                                    ______________________________

CC: CF, PO Box 663 STN.P, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2Y4 Canada.

Fax: 1-781-735 83 59. Emil:childrenfirst@pathcom.com

We, the undersigned condemn (PUK) the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan’s violations of children and human rights and are outraged that PUK under the leadership of Jalal Talabani attacked the Center for the Defense of Children’s Rights in the city of Sulaimaniya, evicted its resident children, the children were so terrorized that they ran away with no news of their whereabouts or even their conditions to date, and the Center was shut down. We demand that the PUK respect children rights by taking responsibility for the lives of the children who were in custody of the Children’s Center and those children who were evicted with their mothers from the Women’s Shelter, returning all the confiscated properties of the Children’s Center, and paying compensation for the losses or damages to the Center. Those who took part in the raids of the Children’s Center should be prosecuted in an open public hearing.

NAME   SIGNATURE         ORGANIZATION                                CITY, COUNTRY 

Send the petition to:

Children First, International Campaign for Children’s Rights, CF,PO Box 663 STN.P, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2Y4 Canada. E-mail: childrenfirst@pathcom.com.Tel: 1-416-434 15 45. Fax: 1-781-735 83 59