dimanche 13 avril 2014


European Parliament urges progress on depleted uranium munitions

European Parliament urges progress on depleted uranium munitions


For pictures please click on the link above

The European Parliament has long supported a global moratorium on the use of depleted uranium weapons and with a fifth United Nations General Assembly resolution on the topic approaching this autumn, the parliament is growing increasingly vocal.
12 April 2014 - Doug Weir

The bill for cleaning up the 300-350 sites in Iraq that are known to be contaminated with depleted uranium (DU) munitions has been estimated at between US$30-45m. Then there are the sites that the Iraqi Ministry for the Environment doesn’t know about. It doesn’t know about these sites because there is currently no obligation on the users of the weapons to release targeting data to affected states after conflict. Nor is there currently an obligation to decontaminate sites or provide risk education or health and exposure monitoring to communities. 

The United States and United Kingdom have disclosed that they used around 400 tonnes of DU munitions in Iraq in 1991 and 2003. The United Nations Environment Programme believes that the total may be nearer 1000 tonnes. Persistent and consistent reports from medical staff across Iraq have associated this legacy from the conflict with increased rates of certain cancers and congenital birth defects. The extent to which DU may be associated with these health problems is still unclear as the conditions since 2003 have not been conducive to studying civilian exposure and health outcomes. That little data is available on where the munitions were used has also helped confound research.    
DU is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process, which contains proportionally less of the fissionable uranium isotope U235, and more of the isotope U238 than natural uranium. As a material it is highly dense and pyrophoric, meaning that it has an incendiary effect upon impact. This effect can generate an aerosol of micron and sub-micron particles that can spread between tens and hundreds of metres from the target. Recent studies have shown that these particles can persist in the environment for at least 30 years. DU ammunition is fired by tanks, armoured fighting vehicles and aircraft and its use can generate huge quantities of contaminated scrap and soils.

Even without comprehensive studies on civilian health, it is clear that remedial measures should be undertaken to reduce exposure to DU residues. Yet unlike explosive remnants of war, there is no obligation on DU users to support or undertake this work. The need for post-conflict management of DU contaminated sites if recognised by the UK Royal Society and the World Health Organisation, which states that: “If high concentrations of depleted uranium dust or metal fragments are present, then areas may need to be cordoned off until removal can be accomplished…particular emphasis should be placed on the protection of children. Small children could receive greater exposure to depleted uranium when playing in or near depleted uranium impact sites.”

It can be argued that the legacy of the use of DU in Iraq has significant implications for the acceptability of the weapons. From targeting transparency to post-conflict management capacity, to the use of DU against non-armoured targets and in populated areas, Iraq’s experience clearly demonstrates many of the problems associated with the use of this radioactive and toxic heavy metal in conventional weapons.
The European Parliament recognised the intrinsic unacceptability of DU in 2001 after its in the former Yugoslavia. Since then, resolution after resolution has called for a moratorium on its use – most notably in 2008 where a wide-ranging text was supported by 94% of MEPs.

In spite of the parliament’s clear decade-long position, voting by EU member states on UN General Assembly resolutions remains split. DU users the UK and France side with the US and Israel, who together are the only four states to oppose the resolutions. A bloc of more DU-progressive states led by Germany and Italy vote in favour, while a third bloc, primarily comprising Eastern European and Baltic states but including Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Portugal abstain. Globally, 155 states supported the most recent UN text in 2012 and the split position within the EU is something of a regional anomaly in the face of an emerging global consensus.

EU member state voting positions on UNGA resolutions
Author: ICBUW
EU member state position on 2012 UNGA resolution on depleted uranium, red = oppose, amber = abstain, green = support. Bulgaria was absent from the vote but has historically abstained.

With a fifth United Nations resolution on DU approaching this October, and conscious of the need to resolve the DU issue, the parliament is urging EU member states to adopt a common position in favour of a ban, and to help provide clearance and assistance for affected communities. The resolution on Iraq that includes the call was pursued by the parliament’s committee on relations with Iraq. Speaking at a recent hearing of the committee, which considered field research undertaken in Iraq by the Dutch peace organisation PAX, the committee’s chair, British MEP Struan Stevenson of the conservative ECR group stated that there was a: “demonstrable case for a strong and robust resolution calling on member states like the United Kingdom and France to stop using DU”.

Led by Stevenson, a group of MEPs and from across both Europe and the political spectrum, have also submitted questions to the EU’s foreign affairs chief Cathy Ashton to ask what the European Commission has been doing to encourage the development of a common position within the EU. They also call on the EU to demonstrate leadership on the DU issue. The questions remained unanswered at the time of writing. 

The call in the resolution and the questions to Baroness Ashton have now been lent further weight by a recommendation to Europe’s Council of Ministers, calling on EU member states to: “support UN General Assembly resolutions on depleted uranium weapons and to develop an EU Common Position that better reflects Parliament’s repeated calls for a precautionary global moratorium and the developing global consensus on the potential civilian health risks, complex post-conflict management burden and financial costs associated with their use".

The parliament’s green political groups have consistently supported action on DU weapons and have repeatedly ensured the topic’s inclusion in resolutions and hearings. Reflecting on the need for a common EU position on DU, Tarja Cronberg MEP, spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group for security, defence and disarmament said: "We want several things, first, that the issue is recognised institutionally as a problem we have to address. Secondly, that some day soon the High Representative for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy will initiate a process leading to an EU common position banning the use, the production and investments in DU ammunition by EU member states.

"This should also mandate the EU to work towards a global ban on DU weapons in a similar way as in the context of the Arms Trade Treaty or the 2010 NPT Review Conference. In both cases, an EU common position made it possible that the EU spoke with one voice and was able to have a positive impact".

As was the case with the landslide 2008 resolution, that current initiatives have garnered support from across the political spectrum appears to show that DU’s unacceptability remains as persistent as its legacy in Iraq. The parliament’s message to EU governments is clear but whether it will be acted on will only become apparent this October when the UN General Assembly meets.
Material from this article was published by The Ecologist magazine.

lundi 7 avril 2014

IHEC Publishes the List of Candidates for Iraq’s 30 April Parliamentary Elections

IHEC Publishes the List of Candidates for Iraq’s 30 April Parliamentary Elections

Posted by Reidar Visser on Friday, 4 April 2014 2:55

The Iraqi election campaign formally began Tuesday, but the official candidate lists weren’t published until Thursday evening, just before the start of the Iraqi weekend. Altogether, the lists contain the names of 9,045 candidates.

A noteworthy general point is that unlike previous years, no provisional list was published pending appeals regarding de-Baathification and other candidacy problems. In other words, the current list purports to be the final. IHEC maintains that, after its latest showdown with parliament (in which it prevailed after parliament decided to backtrack), all appeal options have been exhausted.

As for the characteristics of the main lists, at least a few tendencies can be noted in this material.

Starting with the Shiite Islamists lists, there is the State of Law list of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (277). Many of its top candidates run in Baghdad: In addition to Maliki himself at top of the list, deputy PM Hussein Shahristani is second and Haydar al-Abbadi is third. In Basra, former governor Khalaf Abd al-Samad is the top candidate, and several prominent provincial council members are now trying their luck as MP candidates. In Qadisiya, Khalid al-Attiya, the former deputy speaker of parliament, is the State of Law candidate number one, whereas figures from the Badr movement are at the top in Wasit and Diyala (Qasim al-Aaraji and Hadi al-Ameri respectively). A notable cooption from Sunni-secular circles is Iskandar Witwit (formerly Iraqiyya deputy; now State of Law candidate no 9 in Babel).

For their part, ISCI-dominated Muwatin (273) has a current MP as top candidate in Basra (Furat al-Shaara), a former governor as top candidate in Dhi Qar (Aziz Kazim Alwan), and a former provincial council speaker as top candidate in Najaf (Abd al-Hussein Abd al-Rida). In a possible sign of sectarian times, in Qadisiyya they have managed to coopt the former (Shiite) Iraqiyya deputy Hussein al-Shaalan, where he is now their number three candidate. Watch out for their Baghdad personal vote results: Behind Baqir Solagh (former finance and interior minister) they have chameleon Ahmed Chalabi as their second candidate, followed by Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum (oil minister in the CPA period). Also some figures from smaller entities appear in prominent Muwatin list positions elsewhere, including as Hassan Radi al-Sari of the “Hizbollah in Iraq” movement as number one in Maysan.

As for the Sadrists (214), to a greater degree than the two other big Shiite lists, they rely on relatively unknown politicians at top of their lists. An exception is Baghdad, where Hakim al-Zamili is number 2, Maha al-Duri no. 4, and Falah Hasan Shanshal (briefly de-Baathification head) no. 5.

As has been clear for some time, both Fadila (219) and the Jaafari splinter group from the Daawa (205) run separately. Prominent Fadila candidates include Suzan Aklawi (no. 4 in Basra) and Ammar Tuma (top candidate in Baghdad). The Jaafari list has relatively few famous top candidates. In addition to Jaafari himself there is Muhammad al-Hindawi in Karbala.

It is noteworthy that the efforts to establish a pan-Shiite alliance in Diyala seem to have failed, because all the main groups are fielding separate tickets there. In Kirkuk there is a Shiite-dominated Turkmen list (282) including pro-Maliki figures like minister of state Turhan al-Mufti. Rumoured Maliki allies close to the Asaeb Ahl al-Haqq are everywhere running separately as list 218, Al-Sadiqun.

Turning to what was formerly the Sunni-secular Iraqiyya, it makes sense to start with Mutahhidun headed by parliament speaker Usama al-Nujayfi (259). Prominent Mutahhidun candidates – beyond Nujayfi himself as no 1 in Nineveh – include Muhammad Iqbal (no. 3 in Nineveh), Falah Hassan Zaydan (no. 6 in Nineveh), Muhammad Dalli (no. 3 in Anbar), Zafir al-Ani (number one in Baghdad), Umar Hayjal (5 in Baghdad) and Attab al-Duri (female candidate, no. 7 in Baghdad). In a sad testament to the sectarian polarization in Iraqi politics (and an apt geographical illustration thereof), Mutahhidun is not running south of Baghdad whereas it is backing pan-Sunni lists in Diyala and Kirkuk.

The Arabiyya bloc headed by deputy PM Saleh al-Mutlak (255) is also limited geographically to Sunni-majority areas. Mutlak himself is the top candidate in Baghdad.

Parts of old Iraqiyya still remain in list 239, now called Wataniyya under the leadership of Ayad Allawi. In Anbar, their number one candidate is Hamid al-Mutlak; in Diyala it is Abdallah Hassan Rashid; in Nineveh Salim Dalli is number two. In Baghdad they obviously have Allawi himself as number one, followed by former Iraqi Islamic Party member Ala Makki as third, and prominent female parliamentarian (and bloc spokesperson) Maysun al-Damluji as number four.

For the Kurdish lists, one of the most prominent aspects is the absence of a unified list in most areas, including in so-called disputed territories where they have historically put in much effort to remain united. The continuing power struggle and impasse in the internal KRG government formation process following elections last years may well be part of the explanation.

Some smaller lists are interesting, in particular the Iraq coalition (262) which stands out for competing in Sunni and Shiite areas alike. In Baghdad the list is topped by former minister from the CPA period Mahdi al-Hafez and is also featuring former Fadila figure Nadim al-Jabiri. In Salahaddin, they have Qutayba al-Jibburi as no. 2, a former Iraqiyya MP who split from them in early 2012 after the controversy ove the Hashemi affair. This list is perhaps the most credible cross-sectarian alternative that has emerged in the ashes of Iraqiyya (perhaps in addition to list 232 which is close to the old communists). By way of contrast, other Iraqiyya breakaway entities are not running across the country. A case in point is White (288) which is not running in Sunni areas north of Baghdad.

Other new parties are also often geographically limited. In Basra, the former Sadrist Uday Awwad is topping his own list (270). There is also a women-only list with 5 candidates (281) and federalist Wail Abd al-Latif is trying his luck with at the head of yet another new party (228). Former Maliki ally Shirwan al-Waili has his own list (284) and he is himself its top candidate in Dhi Qar.

Generally speaking, fascinatingly – and despite the general sectarian polarization regionally – issues like de-Baathification have been less prominent in Iraq this year than ahead of the last general elections in 2010. Instead, the dispute of the 2014 budget (and the failure of parliament to pass it) has been a main background factor. The budget is at least a political issue that is connected to some important ideological differences regarding interpretations of federalism. Clear battle lines between the Maliki government and the Kurdish regional government aside, the process remains somewhat opaque though: Maliki has reportedly this week complained to the federal supreme court about parliament’s procrastination over the budget passage. In election times, would it not be more logical to ensure wider parliamentarian backing for the budget? Surely that is doubly relevant these days, when Maliki allies already talk about forming a “political majority” government after the elections. Their efforts over the next few weeks will decide whether such a prospect is realistic at all.

jeudi 3 avril 2014

Kirkuk, iraq’s new capital of kidnapping

kirkuk, iraq’s new capital of kidnapping
 | عربي |
niqash | Shalaw Mohammed | Kirkuk | 20.03.2014

A checkpoint in Kirkuk: Yet security forces cannot seem to stop the kidnappings.

Kidnapping is common in Iraq, with gangs using the ransoms to pay the rent or fund extremist activities. And the northern city of Kirkuk is particularly notorious for this kind of crime, with almost 300 reported kidnaps over the past three years.

Nine months ago Mohammed Khalid, a middle aged man with light coloured eyes, was kidnapped. He was snatched from the street in the middle of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk after work. His family eventually paid a ransom of US$50,000 and after a week Khalid was released by the group of men that took him.

“I was leaving the office when a car pulled up beside me. The men inside pointed a gun at me and told me to get in,” Khalid, who has since left Kirkuk, tells NIQASH. “They covered my eyes and drove me to a mud house. There they beat me with sticks and an iron bar; they broke my leg and my hand. Then they took my mobile and called my brother and told him to bring money to a certain place in Hamrin [an area outside of Kirkuk city], within five days. My family did as they were told and I was released.”

Khalid says he still has nightmares about the event and that he was afraid to stay in Kirkuk afterwards. So he left the city and moved to another part of Iraq; he doesn’t want to say exactly where but he and many others like him have moved to areas inside the semi-autonomous and comparatively safe area of Iraqi Kurdistan or to other countries like Turkey and Jordan.

In Iraq Khalid’s story is not a unique one. Kidnapping is common in the country. In Kirkuk his story is even less unique- in fact, these kinds of stories are becoming more and more common: Kirkuk is in line to take the title of Iraq’s capital of kidnapping.

Over the past three years there have been 291 reported cases of kidnapping, a report by Kirkuk’s police says. Most of these incidents have targeted those locals who could afford to pay a ransom – doctors, merchants, businessmen and their family members. The police say all of those kidnapped were released after their families paid ransoms ranging between US$20,000 and US$80,000. And these are just the kidnaps that were reported – many are apparently never even brought to the police’ attention.

According to the latest information among Kirkuk’s security forces, the number of kidnapping cases is rising. The latest incident took place March 8 and the four victims were returned after amounts ranging between US$25,000 and US$100,000 were paid by their families.

“The kidnappers mostly target men and children,” says Jwan Hassan, the head of the local council’s human rights committee. “Although sometimes women are kidnapped too. And most of the kidnappings seem to have financial motives, rather than political.”

In the past Hassan has said that they suspect that officials working in security are behind human trafficking in the area – those same officials are also thought to be behind the rash of kidnappings.
“Armed extremist groups have started kidnapping people because they’re no longer receiving financial support from outside the country,” provincial council member Ahmed al-Askari, who heads Kirkuk’s security committee, told NIQASH. “That’s because the countries that were funding them are in crisis,” al-Askari noted, making an oblique reference to Syria.

Still al-Askari says he can’t rule out the notion that some military or security staff could be part of kidnapping networks in Kirkuk.

However local security forces deny this, explaining that some of the groups of kidnappers are smaller and the only reason they’re doing the kidnapping is to make a living. Other kidnappers are affiliated with larger extremist groups and they use the money from the kidnapping to do things like buy explosives or cars or to fund other terrorist activities.

Sources from inside Kirkuk’s security forces say that, although they have made some progress, it’s not easy to arrest the kidnapping gangs that are plying their trade in the city. Partially this is because a lot of the kidnappings are not reported, or they are only reported afterwards.

“Often the kidnappers threaten their victim if the families tell the police,” explains Sarhad Qadir, Kirkuk’s police chief. “So the families conclude the deals with their kidnappers themselves. We’re constantly arresting kidnappers because of other information but that is one of our main problems: People don’t report the kidnappings.”

Qadir says he doesn’t expect the kidnappings to stop any time soon, and particularly because there are so many different types of groups undertaking this kind of criminal activity. In the meantime, the wealthier locals who used to call Kirkuk home – people like former kidnapping victim Mohammed Khalid who have since moved away - can only hope that they get to return to the city one day.

dimanche 30 mars 2014

ITF EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli represented the Iraqi Turkmens at the International Demonstration in Brussels in favour of Nations without a State


ITF EU Representative, Dr Hassan Aydinli and Merry Fitzgerald of Europe-Turkmen Friendships represented the IRAQI TURKMENS at the demonstration in Brussels today, 30th MARCH 2014, at Jubelpark - Parc du Cinquantenaire - in favour of nations without a state. 

This event was organized by the INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS (ICEC) it brought together several hundreds of activists from across the world.

The demonstration will be followed by an official International Conference and Workshop "Self-Determination in the 21st Century" in Brussels and Antwerp on 31st March 2014 and 1st April 2014 which is organized by UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization), CIEMEN (Centre Internacional Escarré per les Minories Etniques i Nacions and Centre Maurits Coppieters.

samedi 29 mars 2014

Demonstration in favour of Nations without a State in Brussels on 30th March 2014

DEMONSTRATION IN BRUSSELS ON SUNDAY 30th MARCH 2014 AT 11 a.m. at Jubelpark in favour of nations without a state. 

This event is organized by the INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS (ICEC) and will bring together exceptional activists from across the world.

This demonstration will take place prior to the official programme "SELF-DETERMINATION IN THE 21st CENTURY" (organized by UNPO, CIEMEN and Centre Maurits Coppieters) in Antwerp and Brussels on 31st March and 1st April 2014.

jeudi 27 mars 2014

ITF EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli attended the International Day of Nowruz at Huizingen Castle, Brussels



                                                Please click on the picture to enlarge

Huizingen Castle (Brussels)

H.E. the Ambassadors of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan 

MEP Metin Kazak and Mrs. Kazak
ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli and Mrs. Merry Fitzgerald

ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli with H.E. Homayoun Tandar Ambassador of Afghanistan

ITF EU representative Dr. Hassan Aydinli with H.E. Kakadjan Mommadov Ambassador of Turkmenistan and his spouse

Bilindiği gibi Nevruz (Bahar) Bayramı tarihte aynı zamanda bir Türk bayramı olarak’da kutlanmakta. Özellikle Asya ve Kafkaslarda bulunan Türk toplulukları bu bayramı, milli bir duygu içerisinde coşkuyla kutlamakta.

Bu nedenle son bir kaç yıldan beri geleneksel hale getirilen Nevruz Bayram Resepsiyonu bu senede (25 Mart Salı günü Saat 18:30) da Huizingen Şatosu’nda büyük bir katılım ve coşkuyla idrak edildi.

Nevruz Bayramı Resepsiyonunda Afganistan Büyükelçisi Homayoun Tandar, Azerbaycan Büyükelçisi Fuad İsgandarov, Kırgızistan Büyükelçisi Asein Isaev, Tacikistan Büyükelçisi Rustamjon Soliev, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti Belçika Büyükelçisi Mehmet Hakan Olcay ve Türkmenistan Büyükelçisi Kakadjan Mommadov’un ev sahipliği yaparak, Ülke bayrakları önündeki bayram tebriklerini birlikte kabul ettiler.

Anılan ülke insanları geleneksel giyisileri ile kendi kültürlerine has sıcak ve soğuk yemekleri davetlilere ikram ettiler. Davetliler sırayla ülke stantlarını ziyaret ederek, onların kendilerine has mutfak ürünlerinden birbirinden güzel yiyecekleri tatma imkanı buldular.

Büyükelçiler adına Afganistan Büyükelçisi Homayoun Tandar, bir konuşma yaparak, davetlilere katılımlarından dolayı teşekkür ederek, “bayramların birlik, kardeşlik ve dayanışma ruhunu geliştirdiğini, Nevruz bayramının geniş bir coğrafyada yüz milyonlarca insan tarafından idrak edildiğini belirterek, kendisi ve diğer ülke büyükelçileri olarak tüm katılımcıların Nevruz Bayramı’nı tebrik ettiklerini açıkladı.


Extract from Ershad Al-Hurmuzu's book: "The Turkmen and Iraqi Homeland": PAGES 74 AND 75:

"The ignominious defeat of the Iraqi army and the uprising which followed shortly afterwards, in the northern and southern regions of the country, resulted in violent reprisals against the inhabitants: Kurdish divisions of the Iraqi army invaded Kirkuk and embarked on a campaign of pillage and wanton destruction, though Turkmen fighters managed to hold certain districts. The city itself and the towns of Altunköprü (45 kilometres north-west, on the main highway to Erbil), Tuz Khurmatu and Taza Khurmatu temporarily came under siege following the collapse of the uprising on March 27, 1991.

The horrific aftermath was an orgy of revenge by the invaders who slaughtered indiscriminately on the streets and in people's homes as well as vandalizing and wrecking property, public and private. As the terrified inhabitants tried to flee Kirkuk and head for Altunköprü, they came under relentless fire from helicopters and heavy artillery. Soldiers fired on anything that moved and smashed into homes in total disregard of the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan.

On 28th March 1991, the military forces arrested large numbers of people who were then sent to unknown destinations. Their families were given no details of their whereabouts or their ultimate fate. Then, about three weeks later, mass graves were discovered and, when they were opened, were found to contain piles of dead bodies among them those of children, the elderly and even handicapped. The total number was 102 which included the bodies of citizens who had tried to escape from Altunköprü, Taza and Kirkuk. Their ages ranged from ten to sixty-six years old. Their names are as follows: (follows the complete list of names).

EXCERPT from the book by Ali Gökhan Kayili: "The Iraqi Turkmen 1921-2005" pages 69 and 70

"While the Turkmen were not being affected by the insurgency against the Central Government, they watched developments with worry. An insurgency took place on 18th March 1991, which was instigated by the Kurds from the north, against the Baath administration in Kirkuk. Both PUK militia and KDP militia entered Kirkuk city. They invaded the government agencies and buildings on 18th March 1991, and burned the civil registration records, with the aim to destroy data regarding Turkmen existence in the region.

The Turkmen who did not join the insurgency became victims of military units which arrived from Baghdad on 26th March 1991 in TazeKhurmatu, and 28 Turkmen were killed for no reason. Two days later, military units who besieged Altunköprü on 28th March 1991, killed approximately one hundred Turkmen without any questioning.

Massacres which the Baghdad administration instigated against the Turkmen caused thousands Turkmen to migrate to the borders of Turkey and Iran (at the beginning of April 1991) Nearly 17.000 Turkmen reached the Turkish borders, under difficult
circumstances. "