My comments to Mr. Bill Van Auken regarding the information concerning the 'Minorities in Iraq' which he copied from the 'Minority Rights Group Intl Report' are mentioned below (after the article).
The US war and occupation of Iraq—the murder of a society
Part two of a three part series By Bill Van Auken 21 May 2007
The eradication of Iraq’s minorities
Also a telling sign of the social disintegration in Iraq is the status of minorities. A report issued this month by Minority Rights Group International warns that minority communities in Iraq are being systematically eradicated. It ranks Iraq as the second-worst country in the world in terms of the threat posed to minorities—better only than Somalia and worse than Darfur.
The report, entitled “Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s Minority Communities Since 2003,” tracks the situation confronting Iraq’s Armenian and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, Bahais, Faili Kurds, Jews, Mandaeans, Palestinians, Shabaks, Turkomans and Yazidis, who together make up 10 percent of the country’s total population.
“Iraq continues to see targeted killings of people from minority groups, including Christians, Yezidis and Mandaeans. Other minority groups in Iraq face daily violence, torture and political assimilation, which has led to an exodus of these communities from the country,” the report states. Last year, Iraq ranked the worst in the world. Its decline to the second worst is a reflection of the marked deterioration of the situation in Somalia, where a US-engineered intervention has unleashed rampant violence.
Some of Iraq’s minorities predate the Arabs in terms of their presence in the country, which dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. Now, victims of violence and intimidation, they are disappearing from Iraq, many killed and the rest fleeing into exile.
The report’s authors blame the US occupation for this disaster. They write: “Following the occupation of Iraq in 2003, the coalition authorities established an Iraqi Governing Council in which membership was strictly apportioned along ethnic and sectarian lines. Political patronage ensured that whole ministries became dominated by officials from the minister’s own sect or group, and sectarian politics quickly became the defining feature of the new Iraqi state.” As a result, minority populations were excluded and subsequently repressed.
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My comments to Mr Van Auken:
I wish to draw your attention to the fact that the information concerning the percentage of the different ethnic and religious groups under "Minorities in Iraq" published in the "Minority Rights Group International Report" to which you refer in your article is completely false. It is regrettable that you have copied their inaccurate data in your article without checking the facts.
As far as the Turkmens of Iraq are concerned, they ALONE represent more than 12% of the Iraqi population!
The Turkmens are the THIRD MOST IMPORTANT ethnic group in Iraq and the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT group in the North of Iraq.
I invite you to read the following article written by Dr Ali Kocak and to correct the false data in your article accordingly.
The Reality of the Turkmen Population in Iraq
By Dr Ali Kocak
The dilemma of the Turkmen population in Iraq has become quite an irony. Although in the era of post Saddam Hussein Iraq ethnic and sectarian diversity has been fully recognized by the United States and in the world, the Turkmen are being wiped off the page, this is despite the fact that are the third largest nationality in Iraq, and that they are knocking on the door for international recognition and self - determination.
On one hand, the Turkmen claim that their population in Iraq is more than 3 million (13% of Iraq’s population); yet on the other hand we see that most of the major media and an array of scholars in the United States calculate them in very diverse numbers ranging anywhere from 100 thousand to a million [Graham Fuller, 72 Foreign Affairs, 121 1992-1993], and even as much as 1.5 million [Inquiry Magazine, February 1987 London].
This ambiguity and the diversity in the numbers makes us wonder and ask what is the reality of the Turkmen and their population in this melting pot which is the societal make up of Iraq’s diverse ethnic and sectarian mosaic. The reality of this diverse distribution and the portion of Turkmen represented in Iraqi society has long been suppressed throughout the years.
The Turkmen claim further that even in the post Saddam Iraq, for intentional and unintentional reasons, they have been undercounted and their significant presence in Iraq has been forgotten.
To fully grasp the reality of the Turkmen in Iraq and the source of their claim, one must consider reviewing some historical facts in order to gain perspective: In accordance with decisions made during the Lausanne Treaty, a Committee was established to investigate the Social, Economic and the Ethnic structure of the Mosul Province.
The established Committee concluded with the following report: The only official newspaper published in Kirkuk was in Turkish. British political officers, among the local languages, were able to speak only in Turkish. The populations of Altinkopru, Tuzhurmatu, Taze hurmatu and 75% of Karetepe were inhabited by Turkmen. The population of Taze hurmatu and Tavuk were made up of Turkmen, though in some of the villages there were also some Kurdish inhabitants.
The commission, in their report, also considered and reflected observations made by British traveler Oliver in 1809 about the area. Based on the observations, the Committee reported that the distribution of the population in the Mosul Province was as follows [Dr.Fazl Hüseyin, Musul Meseles (Mosul issues), S.95 Baghdad 1967]:
Christian: 7000 - 8000
Kurds: 15000 -16000
Turkmens: 15000 -16000
The first draft and the original constitution of Iraq were written in three languages: Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish. According to article 74 of Iraq’s constitution, which was published in 1931, Turkish would be the language of the Court in areas in which the Turkmen population is in majority. The first census in Iraq was conducted in 1947 and it showed a population of 4,816,185 [The New York Times, September 14, 1957]
However, the first census which included a comprehensive look at the ethnic structure of Iraq was conducted in 1957 and showed the total population of Iraq as 6,300,000, of this the Turkmen population was estimated to be 567,000 [Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Volume 24, Number 2, October 2004, pp. 309-325(17)].
After the “1958 revolution”, the new government estimated the Turkmen population, based on 1957 census results, to be 570,000 and in 1965, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Planning, Department of Statistics; the Turkmen population was estimated to be 780,000. According to the statistical data provided by the Iraqi Government the following conclusions where made:
Population density per square kilometer was: 42 person /km2
Average Birth rate: 4.5%
Average population increase: 3.7%
Average births per woman: 7 children
Death rate: 0.87%
In reference to the statistical data provided above, Iraq’s population was estimated to increase from (11, 505,000) in 1976 to (18,100,000) in 1988 [Iraq’s Ministry of Planning].
Based on these data and projections for the years 1921, 1926, 1947, 1957, 1959, and 1965, the estimated percentages of Iraq’s ethnic structure were as follows:
Christians: 3% ,
The distribution of ethnic groups in Iraq’s total population (18,100,000) in the year 1988 was estimated as:
Arabs: 11,444,000 .
In accordance with the data presented by Iraq’s Ministry of Planning, the population of Iraq in the year 2000 was shown to be 20,000,000. Based on this figure and the previous estimation, the Turkmen population in the year 2000 was estimated to be 3, 200,000. 15% of this population inhabits the areas of Arbil as well as 85% who live in Kirkuk and Mosul, and of course some in Baghdad.
Preti Taneja discusses her report for the Minority Rights Group International, “Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s minority communities since 2003” [.pdf]: the plight of ethnic and religious minorities in post-invasion Iraq.
To listen to Preti Taneja:
MP3 here. (27:16)
Preti Taneja is a freelance journalist and filmmaker working with Minority Rights Group International. She is also a contributor to the Guardian, OpenDemocracy and BBC Radio 4.