Resistance against Iraqi military siege in Maxmur Camp continues

The resistance against the Iraqi army blockade has entered its eighth day. The residents of the camp are standing guard in tents and say that they will not leave until the Iraqi forces withdraw.

The resistance in Maxmur Refugee Camp against the Iraqi military siege continues unabated. The Iraqi army has positioned hundreds of soldiers with armoured vehicles and heavy construction equipment in the vicinity of the self-managed refugee camp in order to dig trenches and barbed wire and erect watchtowers, despite the negotiations conducted with the Maxmur People's Council. The people of Maxmur have been resisting this for over a week and have erected tents where people discuss and sing.

Meanwhile, visitors from the nearby town of Maxmur arrived at the camp. The visitors declared their solidarity with the camp residents and said they had not forgotten how the PKK and the camp had defended them against ISIS in 2014.

In recent years, similar attempts to fence the camp in with barbed wire have failed due to the resistance of the people. Maxmur Camp is located about 60 kilometres southwest of Hewlêr (Erbil), the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. More than 12,000 people live in the camp. Most of them were forced to leave their villages in Northern Kurdistan in the 1990s due to the repression of the Turkish state and the scorched-earth policy. After an odyssey of several years and stays in various camps, they founded the Maxmur Camp on the edge of the desert in 1998. The camp population thus forms the largest Kurdish refugee community worldwide.

The grassroots-democratically organised and self-governing camp is a thorn in Turkey's side. In recent years, there have been repeated air strikes on Maxmur, most recently in August 2022, when a father of six was killed by a drone. In an air strike three months earlier, a civilian was fatally injured by the Turkish army. These war crimes have remained without consequences to this day.

Officially, Maxmur is under the protection of the UNHCR, but in practice the UN is only nominally present. The organisation left the camp during the attacks by ISIS in 2014 and did not return afterwards.

The Maxmur camp has already been under a heavy embargo by the KDP since 17 July 2019. The people of the camp are not allowed to enter the cities of South Kurdistan and to enter the camp for basic needs from outside. Many people have lost their lives due to this embargo. The closure of the camp poses a serious danger to the lives of people, because among them are many seriously ill refugees.