A Belgium senator Ms. Olga Zrihen received a Turkmen delegation that was led by ITF representative Dr Hassan Aydinli at the Belgium Parliament on the 27th of March 2007
ITF Europe Representative had arranged an appointment with Ms Olga ZRIHEN, Belgian Senator and President of the Provincial Committee of Hennuyères Fédérations, on 27th March 2007 for the Turkmen delegation attending the Turkmen Conference at the European Parliament on 26th & 27th March 2007.
The Turkmens who formed the delegation which was received by Ms O. ZRIHEN on 27th March 2007 at the Belgian Parliament in Brussels were:-
· Mr. Muzaffer Arslan, Advisor on Turkmen Affairs to the President of Iraq H.E. Jalal Talabani
· Mr. Ahmed Mehdi, Head of the Turkmen Group at the Kerkuk Council
· Dr. Hassan Aydinli, ITF Europe Representative
· Dr. Sheth Jerjis, SOITM Chairman
· Ms. Merry Fitzgerald, Assistant to ITF Europe Representative
· Ms. Nermeen Al-Mufti, Author and al-Ahram Correspondent
The members of the Turkmen delegation were presented to Ms O. ZRIHEN by ITF Europe Representative Dr Hassan AYDINLI, who, after introducing the delegation, made a brief and condensed presentation of the Turkmens of Iraq, their history, their contribution to the Mesopotamian civilization and to Iraq’s history, culture and civilization. He subsequently explained the specific dire situation of the Turkmens of Iraq - who constitute the third community of Iraq and the third main ethnic component of the Iraqi people representing at least 3 million people (13% of Iraq’s population) - since the creation of the New Iraqi State after WWI in 1921.
Dr. Hassan AYDINLI stressed and underlined the constant marginalization of the Turkmens in Iraq > and the increasing discriminations they have faced over the past 86 years, insisting especially on their sufferings and on the deterioration of their community’s situation since the occupation of Iraq> by the US-UK forces in March 2003.
Speaking of the acute problems with which the Turkmens are confronted in today’s Iraq, Dr. H. AYDINLI mentioned the New Iraqi Constitution and he criticized this New Constitution which in its present form discriminates between the Iraqi people and Iraq’s ethnic communities; dividing the Iraqi people in two distinct classes by considering only the Arabs and the Kurds of Iraq as “first class citizens” and their communities as the “main communities of Iraq” while abusively denying the 3 million Turkmens of Iraq the right to be equal to the Arabs and the Kurds of Iraq and the right for their community to be considered as the “third main community of Iraq” with equal rights as those given to Arabs and Kurds.
Dr. H. AYDINLI deplored the ‘backwardness’ of the “New Iraqi Constitution” which is officially discriminating between the Iraqi people and between Iraq’s ethnic groups and communities, by downgrading the 3 million Turkmens of Iraq to a minority status, considering them as a ‘small and insignificant minority’ and not as the “third main component of the Iraqi people”, thus considering the Turkmens of Iraq as “second class citizens”.
He insisted on the need for an early revision of the so-called “New Iraqi Constitution” to eliminate all errors of judgement, discriminating factors and articles as well as all backward concepts from this Constitution so that all Iraqis can feel that they are equals and that they enjoy equal rights as citizens of a democratic modern state.
He stressed that the Turkmens of Iraq, being the third main ethnic component of the Iraqi people, must have the same rights as the Arabs and the Kurds in Iraq and that the New Iraqi Constitution must recognize this fact and must explicitly mention Turkmen’s rights to be equal to those of Arabs and Kurds.
Concerning article 140 of the “New Iraqi Constitution” and its content as well as its requirements concerning the issue of Kerkuk (Turkmens’ capital city and main cultural centre in Iraq) and the time table fixed in the constitution for the application of this article which is the end of this year (31/12/2007) to normalise the situation in Kerkuk Governorate, to make a census and hold a referendum on its future status, on whether to be annexed by the Kurds of Iraq to the Kurdish autonomous region, Dr. H. AYDINLI denounced the way in which the New Iraqi Constitution was written and stressed the fact that the Turkmens of Iraq have been once more discriminated and were kept out of the Committee which was formed and which ”supposedly “had prepared the text of this new constitution. He made a r sum of the articles of the ”Transitional Administrative Law” (TAL) which was written by the US occupiers for Iraq with which they controlled and ruled the country after their illegal war of aggression in March 2003, highlighting articles 53 and 58 of the “TAL” which dealt mainly with the issue of the Kurdish autonomous region and with the special status for Baghdad and Kerkuk governorates in the eventual future federal Iraqi state.
Dr. H. AYDINLI denounced the way in which articles 53 and 58 of the “TAL” have been stripped from their contents and were only partially and selectively transferred from the “TAL” to the “New Iraqi constitution” to represent the core of Article 140 of the new Iraqi constitution, under pressure and manipulations from the Kurdish political parties of Messrs. Barazani and Talabani, with the complicity and support of the ”Occupation Authorities” to suit the Kurds’ agenda and to reinforce the Kurdish parties’ hegemony not only in their already recognised autonomous region (Duhok+Erbil+Sulaymaniya), but also in the Turkmen regions of Iraq and specifically in Kerkuk Governorate which contains the huge oil reserves of the north of Iraq around the city of Kerkuk.
Dr. H. AYDINLI denounced the abusive and hegemonic power given to the Kurdish political parties of Messrs. Barazani and Talabani in Iraq> since the occupation of the country in 2003 and the illegal practices used by them to change the demographics of the Turkmen towns and cities in the Turkmen region starting from Kerkuk city.
Further Informing Senator Ms Olga ZRIHEN, Dr. H. AYDINLI denounced the Kurdish parties’ claim on Kerkuk as being a Kurdish city by giving her ample proofs to the contrary, as Kerkuk has been for centuries mainly a Turkmen city and the main cultural centre for the Turkmens in Iraq>.
He further informed Senator Ms Olga ZRIHEN of the late developments in Kerkuk and the demographic alteration of the city made by the Kurdish political parties which brought and installed more than 600.000 Kurds from the Kurdish autonomous region as well as Kurds from Iran, Syria and Turkey disguised as Iraqi Kurds originally from Kerkuk and allegedly expelled from Kerkuk by the previous Ba’ath regime, in order to change the demographic composition of the city in preparation for the referendum scheduled by them to be held before the end of 2007 on the final status of Kerkuk.
Dr. H. AYDINLI ended his intervention by thanking Belgian Senator Ms Olga ZRIHEN for her interest in the Iraqi Turkmens’ cause and for the attention she showed while listening to his introductory speech, adding that Belgium being at the centre of Europe, Belgian politicians and decision makers should take the initiative to denounce the occupation of Iraq and ask for the unconditional withdrawal of the foreign occupation forces in order to bring stability to Iraq, security for its people, start the reconstruction of the country, create jobs for the millions of unemployed and bring real democracy to our country.
Mr. Muzaffer ARSLAN and Mr. Ali MEHDI made their personal statements, confirming in details the presentation made by the ITF Representative.
The opportunity was also given to Dr Sheth JERJIS and Ms Nermeen al-MUFTI to present their views and thoughts about the Turkmens of Iraq, their suffering and the violation of their human rights.
Ms Olga ZRIHEN seemed moved by the presentations made by the members of the Turkmen delegation, confessing that she had only recently heard a little about the Turkmens of Iraq and that she was unaware of the violations of their rights and the discriminations they have faced for so long in Iraq. She showed compassion and requested to be kept informed about the Turkmens and their cause.
ITF Europe Representative promised to keep her posted about the evolution of the Turkmens’ situation in Iraq.
Written by Dr. Hassan Aydinli