Mothers in Maxmur reiterate their demand for dialogue

Despite resistance from the residents, the Iraqi army has begun preparations to fence off the Kurdish refugee camp in Maxmur.

Despite opposition from the Kurdish refugee community, the Iraqi army has begun preparations for fencing in the Maxmur Camp in southern Kurdistan (northern Iraq). Heavy construction machinery is being used to dig trenches for fence posts along the roads of the refugee camp. In the meantime, a delegation of mothers has sought talks with the Iraqi forces. The women reiterated their rejection of the fencing of the camp with barbed wire ordered by Baghdad over the heads of Maxmur’s residents and emphasised their demand for dialogue with the Iraqi government.

"We condemn any ultimatums and continue to insist on starting a talk to resolve the problem," said a spokesperson for the Peace Mothers Initiative. "We want the will of the people of Maxmur to be respected and invite government actors to engage in a goodwill dialogue to find a solution." The residents of the self-managed camp are unwilling to have their homes turned into open prisons and to live in a militarised environment, she said. "But our appeals remain unheard," the initiative stated.

Maxmur Camp near the town of the same name is located southwest of Hewlêr (Erbil), the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The region is one of the disputed areas of the country between the Kurdish autonomous government and the central government in Baghdad. The camp houses about 12,000 people and consists mainly of Kurds who were forcibly displaced from their villages in the Botan region in North Kurdistan by the Turkish state in the early 1990s.

Since Saturday, Maxmur has been besieged by Iraqi military and police units. In addition to the planned fencing, the deployment of security forces from Baghdad, the closure of all entrances and exits except for the main access, the installation of military concrete barriers on the access road and the erection of observation towers in the surrounding area are also intended to be enforced. The population is putting up collective resistance to the plan. On Saturday, two people from Maxmur were injured as the Iraqi army used firearms against the camp population. Residential houses were also hit by bullets.