After Richie’s release by the judge we took all our stuff and headed out from the military zone and away from the Iraqi-controlled border of Manzariyah towards the town of Khanaqin. I walked and he cycled for about 5km and a person from the military base who was kindly helping us offered us to stay at his and his dad’s place. Due to the late evening we did accept his kind offer and we had a good night’s rest and sleep there.
On 18.01.13 we headed out towards Khanaqin’s mini bus and taxi garage to help Richie find a way of getting back to Sulaymaniyeh for him to sort out his visa problem, and I came back to a main junction in the town of Khanaqin – the way which all cars and lorries go towards Baghdad/Basra – and I set up my peace camp near the last checkpoint which is run by the Regional Kurdish Government. Quickly the security forces turned up asking “What are you doing and what is this is all about?”, so I had to explain to them. They did call all the relevant people and then they were happy for me to camp there. I started to talk to locals to see if I can find a safe passage to the west/south of Iraq (the Jordanian/Kuwaiti) border.
Over night, I think I have caused some problems, with my tent, to the local dog rivals in the area and they didn’t let me sleep at night, but I did manage to sleep a bit in the early hours of 19.01.13.
On 19.01.13, due to my talking to people the day before, a local TV channel and Gali Kurdstan turned up to interview me and also some local journalists and a local radio station interviewed me as well. A few people from peace and human rights campaigning organisations did come and speak to me too. If I manage to get links to the interviews I will post them here.
Later that day, with a local journalist, I went to see the head of Khanaqin’s security and I met the Governor and some other officials as well, and I told them about my peace mission and my peace camp and why I have camped here in this town. They all thanked me for my message, but unfortunately they all said the situation further down from where I have camped is out of their hands and they don’t want me to get hurt by extremists. I thanked them for their concern and told I’ll wait here to see if there is any chance that I can go through without getting hurt. During my time with them the local Kurdsat TV recorded my visit and also I had extra time just for myself to talk with them about my journey.
After this fruitful day I went back to my peace camp and spoke to some more people and then I had another troublesome and sleepless night with the local dogs, but today after all morning talking to locals I packed up my peace camp and headed towards the town centre to write this.
Next I will talk to some more people and to those people who yesterday said
they might be able to help, to see if I can stay in the town in a better place and also hoping to find a solution to my problem of moving forward.