Bird boxes in Iraq


From BirdLife:

Bird boxes Iraqi-style

Wed, Mar 27, 2013

Bird boxes Iraqi-style

Kani Shok Primary Schoolgirls with the nest boxes they made (Nature Iraq)

Take a look at these photos. You might be forgiven for not knowing they were taken in Iraq, a country where the news headlines are rarely happy ones.

These are Iraqi kids, from five schools around the mountain of Peremagroon, in Kurdistan, who this spring have made and erected over 40 nestboxes as part of a conservation education programme funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative.

A year ago Nature Iraq, in partnership with BirdLife International and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, embarked upon a multi-faceted, three-year conservation programme – the first of its kind in the Middle East. An online course in conservation has started at Sulaimani University and over 40 students and others have enrolled. Plans are also taking shape for developing an app to help identify birds, together with other animals and plants that children, students and Iraqi visitors to the region might expect to see around Peremagroon – one of the most important areas for biodiversity in Kurdistan.

Kani Shok Primary School with their nest boxes. (Nature Iraq)

Kani Shok Primary School with their nest boxes. (Nature Iraq)

The most exciting venture has been the nestbox project. Holes for hole-nesting birds seem to be at a premium in Kurdistan, possibly because of the destruction of woodland in the past, and the fact that many trees have not been allowed to mature. It came as a surprise to see Great Tits nesting in holes in the ground!

Hopefully this Nature Iraq project will provide nesting sites for birds such as the Great Tit and Sombre Tit – a species with a specialised habitat and globally restricted range.

This area of Iraqi Kurdistan has one of the highest densities of Eastern and Western Rock Nuthatches in the Middle East – it would be exciting if they could also be attracted to nesting in boxes.

Zewe-Primary-School-student-putting-up-a-nest-box.Shoxan-Babarasul-Mariwan-Qadir-Nature-Iraq

Zewe Primary School student putting up a nest box. (Nature Iraq)

A future step will be for NI to put video cameras in some of the boxes so that Iraqi children can enjoy watching the daily lives of these enchanting birds.

This story was first published in British Birds magazine

Iraqi Women Face Increased Violence in Kurdistan


This video is called The Plight of Iraqi Women.

Indeed, ‘Mission Accomplished‘ in George W. Bush’s brave new Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction; no links to 9/11 (the official pretexts for the war). Lots of oil (the real reason for the war).

More deaths than in the worst days of Saddam Hussein. More torture than in the worst days of Saddam Hussein. More unemployment than ever. No hospitals built; no schools; only the gigantic new US colonial administration building embassy; segregation walls; and more prisons than ever.

Gay people worse off than ever. Women losing rights they had had for a long time.

What happens to Iraqi women during George W. Bush’s still UNaccomplished Operation Iraqi Liberation Freedom?

Microsoft News reports:

Marine ordered Iraqi women and kids shot, squad member testifies

CAMP PENDLETON, California — A Marine charged with murdering two girls and killing several other Iraqis gave orders to shoot into a roomful of children and young women, a squad member testified.

Lance Cpl. Stephen Tatum then went into the room himself, followed by loud noise that could have been M-16 gunfire or a grenade, said Lance Cpl. Humberto Manuel Mendoza.

“I told him there’s just womens and kids in the room,” Mendoza said Tuesday. “He replied, ‘Well, shoot them.”‘

But wait, pro Iraq war pundits point out, you might be right for most of Iraq. However, in the far north, in Kurdistan, things are better.

Well, arguably, they were already better there before the 2003 US invasion, which did not happen there, contrary to the rest of Iraq. But are things really so splendid now in Kurdistan? Concerning human rights, and torture?

And now, from IPS:

IRAQ: Women Face Increased Violence in Kurdistan

By Mohammed A. Salih

ERBIL, Jul 18 (IPS) – Shawbo Rauf Ali, 19, clearly did not know that the picnic she was headed for would become a death trap. When she got there, her husband and several other men beat her to death on suspicion of extra-marital relations.

The suspicion arose because of an unknown number that appeared on Shawbo’s cell phone.

The men fled after the murder. Two who had British citizenship left for the UK. Kurdish officials have said the British police will now extradite them to Iraq. The other two have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

The murder of Shawbo is among numerous ‘honour killings’ in the Kurdish region every year. A Kurdistan parliament report has warned of an “increasing rate of violence against women.”

In Sulaimaniya province south of Erbil, 24 women have been killed in the first half of this year, says the parliament report. Arrests have been made in only five of these cases.

In 2005, four women were reported killed in the Kurdish region’s three provinces Erbil, Sulaimaniya and Dohuk. In 2006 that figure rose to 17. Most of the victims were married women, says a report from the human rights ministry.

These figures do not tell all. Many women are reported to have committed suicide under pressure from male members of the family. In 2005, 22 women committed suicide; in 2006 that number rose to 64, according to police records.

Cholera in northern Iraq: here.