Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Human Rights Security Training

By Cliff Kindy, November 19, 2007

Venus Shamal is the deputy director of Kurdish Human Rights Watch in Suleimaniya. CPT visited her office when they returned to the Kurdish north. Venus invited CPT to assist in the human rights training of 24 security officers from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

CPT hesitated because the training CPT receives does not emphasize an in-depth understanding of the block of human rights principles that has developed globally, especially over the past 60 years. But CPT agreed to this short one hour training module, plus translation, with a focus on CPT’s own experiences.

Venus had mentioned in meeting with CPT that the director of the security office in Suleimaniya, a former teacher, had placed a strong emphasis on human rights after a scathing critique of Kurdish practices from Amnesty International and the U.S. State Department. Three days before the human rights training CPT’s translator invited CPT to visit the office of her uncle, who works in the security office and coincidentally was the head of security in Suleimaniya!

Hours before the training was to start the translator CPT had arranged for the training module called to say that her relative was ill and she must be excused from translating that day. She would contact a friend who was an English teacher in the local secondary school. He came to the CPT apartment and spent an hour going over the first three pages (of a total of ten) that CPT had prepared before they had to leave for the training. Clearly the concepts and vocabulary were new to him.

When CPT arrived at the classroom, the training coordinator explained that CPT would have just one hour with the translation included. Other days a judge, a prosecutor and an NGO human rights worker has provided input for the training. CPT presenters cut sections of their talks which only made it more confusing for the translator, but the session turned out to be adequate. Venus praised Peggy for the stories she had selected from the “Report of 72 Detainees” that CPT had finished in the fall of 2004 in Baghdad.

Afterwards CPTers had a chance to visit with some of the officers. The officers were from various parts of the KRG area. One well-educated officer said, “Security is a very serious concern for Kurdistan.” A day earlier CPT had seen news reporting the detentions of 200 security suspects in four northern governates of Iraq. This was on the heels of a major news headline that 500 detainees had been released from U.S. prisons in Iraq. In the year prior to that release, during the “surge,” 10,000 new detainees had been added to the U.S. detention centers in Iraq.

The four-day training culminated with a graduation exercise during which the head of the security office came to hand out the certificates and shake hands. Interestingly, this same security office is the one that is in the process of evaluating CPT’s request for extended visas, a requirement for this project to continue. At the same time Venus has asked CPT to assist with future human rights trainings of security officers.


Blogger Brennzn said...

Your visa will be extended unless there is an additional level of cooperation you are to agreeing or else depart the country.

11:08 PM  

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