Maryam Shmoil thought it was unusual that she and her daughter were stopped on Nov. 6 from entering into Nahla Valley, a northern Iraqi region home to ethnic Assyrians. Shmoil owns a house in the area and said she travels from Erbil to Nahla nearly every weekend, but a new checkpoint was turning away visitors and limiting the amount of food and energy resources for locals.
The checkpoint joins a string of increased security measures by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to cut off resources to militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Turkey, the European Union and Israel, among others. While the uptick in PKK activity includes attacks on peshmerga forces as militants from the group have been pushed further south into the KRG region, there has been increased harassment targeting locals.
"It's my land and I don't have the authority to go there with freedom," Shmoil said. "We need to solve this problem. Not just the checkpoints, but also the challenge with the PKK there for many years. People there [do not have] any kind of human rights."
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