mercredi 30 avril 2008

Sadr City: The Genocide of Iraqis continues

More than 900 people have died in recent clashes in Baghdad's Sadr City neighbourhood [AFP]

The creation of a Committee for the defense of Tarek Aziz and the other Iraqi political prisoners

Barrister Vergès confirms that he will go to Baghdad to defend Tarek Aziz

Tarek Aziz trial has been adjourned to Tuesday 20th May following a short audience held on the 28th April 2008, during which the Deputy Vice Prime minister has denied any implication in the charges set against him and requested a new Iraqi lawyer. His Lawyer Barrister Badie Aref - having taken refuge in Amman for « security' reasons » : the US refusing to ensure any longer his safety following the death threats he received while a mandate of arrest was launched against him.

Lawyer Jacques Vergès told us that he will ensure the international defense of Tarek Aziz as requested by the Vice-Premier two years ago, a request confirmed on the 29th April 2008, through a fax sent by Zyad Aziz - the son of the Iraqi leader and by the Lawyer - Barrister Badie.

Barrister Vergès intends to ask a visa from the embassy of Iraq in Paris to travel to Baghdad to defend his client.

A Committee for the defense of Tarek Aziz and the Iraqi political prisoners was established at the initiative of Gilles Munier who will contact the signatories of the appeal he launched in May 2003 to ask them to demonstrate again their support for the Iraqi Vice-Premier. The Committee will meet to elect its president.

The appeal for the liberation of Tarek Aziz, recalling the first signatories, has been re launched again at the international level by the British Parliamentarian George Galloway .

In France, in amongst more than a hundred signatures, we can note the following :
Jean-Pierre Chevènement (former minister) - Michel Debray ( Vice-admiral en 2ème section) - Michel Lelong (cleric) – Général Pierre Gallois (Retired Commander) - Thierry Mariani (MP) - Philippe de Saint Robert (writer) – Andrée Michel (honorary director of Research, CNRS) – Didier Julia (MP) - Maurice Buttin (Barrister) - Claude Gaucherand (Contre admiral en 2ème section) - Michel Grimard (President of the Christian Movement Vème République) - Maurice Cannet (General- Retired) - Jacques Gaillot (Cleric -Bishop) - Jean-Pierre Bastid (Novelist) – Paul-Marie Couteaux (European MP) - Charles Saint Prot (writer) – Pierre Levy (journalist) - Bruno Drweski (University Professor) – Alain Corvez (colonel) - Edmond Jouve (university professor) – Robert Vial (journalist) - Georges Labica (highly skilled university professor) – Amaury Couderc (former elected official and mayor) - Paul Balta (writer) – Sliman Doggui (neurologist) – Gérard Godfroy (former director of Rennes' Fair) – Jean Picollec (editor) – Roland Lafitte (writer) – Patricia Latour (writer) – Xavière Jardez (jurist)…. etc

In order to communicate with its members and inform the public opinion, the Committee for the defense of Tarek Aziz and the Iraqi political prisoners has opened :
- an electronic address email :
- and a blog :

Rennes, on the 30th April 2008

Contact for France - Gilles Munier : 06 19 74 45 99

East Turkestan: China's Exercise in Assimilation

Monday, 28 April 2008

Autonomy remains illusory in ‘Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Province’ as China’s continues to discriminate and marginalize ethnic Uyghurs.

Below is an article written by Peter Ford and published by the Christian Science Monitor:

King Daoud Mehsut of Kucha, 12th in his royal line and the last man still alive in China to have sat on a monarch's throne, is a man of noble bearing and proud visage.

The old man's fate, however, is dispiriting. Once a leader of his Uighur people – the Muslim ethnic group that predominates in this far western province of Xinjiang – King Daoud is now wheeled out by two young Chinese female assistants presenting him as a tourist attraction to visitors prepared to buy a 200 RMB ($28.60) ticket. "I get a cut," he says simply.

King Daoud's humiliation, say some Uighurs (prounced WEE-gur), is a sign of what is in store for their culture as a whole in the face of the Chinese government's relentless drive to settle more and more ethnic Han Chinese in traditionally Uighur territory, rich in oil and minerals.

"We feel like foreigners in our own land," complains one Uighur teacher in the provincial capital of Urumqi, who offers only a nickname, Batur, for fear of angering the authorities. "We are like the Indians in America." Or Tibetans in Tibet. "Most Uighurs sympathize with the Tibetans," says Batur. "We feel we are all under the same sort of rule."

Though Xinjiang's 8 million Uighurs have shown only a few signs of the sort of unrest that shook Tibet recently, the Chinese government is just as nervous about "splittism" here among the country's fifth-largest ethnic minority, afraid that beneath the surface calm, resentment is bubbling.
That concern, many Uighurs charge, translates into harsh government control of their lives, restrictions on the use of their language in schools and on their Muslim religious practice, and a colonial-style economy that keeps most local people in menial jobs while Han Chinese immigrants run businesses and the local administration.

Since the Communist government took over Xinjiang in 1949 from a warlord allied with the Nationalist Army, the proportion of Han Chinese (China's dominant ethnic group) in the province has shot up from 6.7 percent to 40.6 percent, according to official figures. The Han population now almost matches the Uighur population, after a six decades-long campaign by Beijing to settle Han in the remote region.

"The government wants the Uighurs to be their slaves, they want our race to vanish," says a clothes trader in the bazaar in Urumqi who calls himself Qutub. "They are destroying the demographic balance by bringing in Chinese people," he adds. "They are drying out our roots."

Though Han and Uighur people share the land, they have little in common, little to do with each other, and little desire to change that state of affairs.

Uighurs are resentful at the way Han Chinese monopolize the best jobs and the top political posts, even though Xinjiang is theoretically an autonomous province. Han residents routinely complain that Uighurs are dirty, lazy, and dishonest.

"I don't have any Uighur friends. I don't deal with them," says Mr. Mi, an old man waiting in line for a therapeutic massage in Urumqi who says he has lived in Xinjiang for 50 years. "They are rude and brutal."

That attitude has marked even Hadji, a wealthy young Uighur entrepreneur who drives a pearl gray Chevrolet and says that he personally has always got on well with his Han neighbors in Urumqi.
"They look down on us," he says of the Han immigrants. "When I take a bus, I hang on to the straps with both hands so nobody even thinks I might be trying to steal their bag."

Often, Chinese people seem insensitive to Uighur fears that their distinctive Muslim culture, derived from their Turkic origins, is being stifled by the flood of Han immigration.

"We all belong to the same country, so the two cultures should assimilate," says one Chinese student as he eats a plate of stir-fried pork and vegetables in the Xinjiang University canteen in Urumqi. "There is a universal law: survival of the fittest."

Others are more sympathetic. "We can understand that they feel their culture is being diluted" says Zhu Lijuan, another student. "But without Han people, how would they have cellphones or computers?"
The Chinese government has indeed brought economic development to Xinjiang, acknowledges Qutub, picking at a rice pilaf studded with raisins and pieces of lamb in a bazaar restaurant. But he is not impressed. "They give us bread," he says. "But they take away our hearts."

"The Uighurs are in a very difficult position," says Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. "They can modernize but at the expense of their culture, or they can refuse to do so and end up marginalized economically."

Of special concern to many Uighurs is their Muslim religion, which local people say is attracting increasing numbers as an expression of their identity, and which the authorities see as a potential breeding ground for separatism.

On the wall of the 16th-century ochre brick mosque here in Kucha, a predominantly Uighur town of 200,000, a red banner proclaims – in Chinese and Uighur script: "Fight Against Illegal Religious Activity: Create a Harmonious Society."

Inside the prayer hall, a notice board explains "illegal religious activity." Near the top of the list is a warning that indicates the government's worries: "It is forbidden to praise jihad, pan-Turkism, or pan-Islamism."

Young men under the age of 18 are not allowed to pray in the mosque, the guardian says. Recently introduced regulations forbid local government employees from going to the mosque and ban teachers from wearing beards and students from bringing the Koran to university, human rights activists say.

"If you get too religious, the government gets worried," says one cotton farmer in a village 50 miles south of Kucha, where, he says, 50 young men have been arrested in recent months for studying at private religious schools, accused of belonging to the outlawed Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Islamic Party.
"There is no religious freedom here," the farmer says bluntly.
The Chinese government "conflates … any religious activities outside the official framework with terrorism and separatism," argues Mr. Bequelin.
Of more concern to the cotton farmer, who asked that neither his name nor his village be identified for fear of official retribution for talking to a foreign journalist, is the fact that the government has ordered him, like everyone else in the district, to tear down his home and build a new one more resistant to earthquakes.

The authorities are offering 4,000 RMB ($571) towards the cost of this work, the farmer says, "but rebuilding the house I live in would cost me 30,000 RMB." Instead he plans to build a smaller home, which will still cost him the price of a year's cotton harvest. "What can we do?" he asks. "That's just the way it is."
Some Uighurs have broken the silence of acquiescence recently, such as the several thousand demonstrators in the southern town of Khotan who spilled onto the streets in protest a month ago [March 2008] at the death, at age 38, of an imprisoned local philanthropist. The official reason was a heart attack.
Asked if he is happy with the way the government treats him, one man says that answering that question would make him choose between "committing a political sin or a sin against my conscience." He chooses the latter, and is silent.

A local government employee in the small city of Korla, where the discovery of oil has drawn hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese workers, is a little more forthcoming.
Since last term, he complains, key school subjects such as math have been taught only in Mandarin, starting in the second grade. To preserve his people's culture, he insists, "education is central. If education is in Mandarin, what do you think will happen?"

Meanwhile, back in his government-refurbished palace that has been transformed into a "Triple- A Tourist Spot," according to a plaque by the gate, King Daoud seems resigned to his role as a folkloric money spinner for Xinjiang's real rulers, with whom he long ago made his peace.
His "kingdom has disappeared" since the Communists deposed him in 1949, he acknowledges. "I am the last vestige of the feudal system."
Soon, fears Batur, his people will go the same way if the Chinese government maintains its current policies.

"The government thinks Uighurs are a threat to Xinjiang's stability," he says. "If they can assimilate us as soon as possible, there will be no threat. Xinjiang will be Chinese, and there will be nothing for them to worry about."

The Demographic Situation of Kerkuk and the Iraqi Constitution

by Erşat Hürmüzlü

To read the article (first published one year ago) and see the charts (which are missing in the excerpt below) please click on the following link:


The demographic structure of the Turkmens in Iraq is unlike those of the Arabs, Kurds and other minorities. The tribal system, with its advantages and disadvantages, is rooted among Arabs and Kurds, rendering blind loyalty to the tribe, granting tribal chiefs absolute powers, which led to the birth of the feudal system removing debate from decision-making and creating a lack of equal opportunities.

The Turkmens, however, are more family oriented, having intimate feelings for descendants from a grand grandfather who held the same family name. The family system, however, did not prevent any member from getting his share of respect, honor and fame due to a religious, academic or professional status.

This very difference, which was neglected by many researchers, may be a reason for the diminished role of the Turkmen in the structure of the Iraqi society.

However, there are other reasons behind this issue, mainly the attempts to change the reality of the Turkmen existence in Iraq in order to annex Kirkuk into a specific region.

What we can see from either Kurdish political parties or from the publications of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq is that they were in agreement in only one subject, which is the denial of the actual size of this component of Iraq.

Let me give you one example, The Patriot Union of Kurdistan web site has published very recently an article adopted from their own newspaper “Kurdistani Nwe” saying:

We have found a document in the archives of the Foreign Affairs of Britain which depicted the makeup of the inhabitants of Kirkuk in the year 1919. At that time and according to this document the inhabitants of Kirkuk were 91 229, 75 thousand of which were Kurds.

In fact, the official documents of the National Archives in London, in which I have personally researched and studied, show clearly that the British delegation to Lausanne conference in early twentieth of the last century headed by Lord Curzon, had submitted their own figures which states clearly, and although the figures were questionable, that the Kurds were less than half in Kirkuk.

The cause of this disinformation was because an “error” was made in one of the Kurdish writers’ book, published in Arabic, saying that the division of the ethnicities in Kirkuk was as follows: 10,000 Arabs, 35,000 Turkmen, 75,000 Kurds, 600 Kildaniens and 1400 Jews. The total had been published as 92,000.

Simple arithmetic will clearly yield the total to be 122,000, and not 92,000. The reason was that in actual figures the number of the Kurds was 45,000 and not 75,000. That means that even with these false figures the Kurds were constituted less than half of the whole governorate and not the central city.

Why have we considered the figures submitted by the British delegation and Lord Curzon as false?

In his memorandum to the Head of the Turkish Delegation, Ismet Inonu, during the open sessions of the conference, Curzon claimed that the Turkmen population within Mosul Region was 66,000. He claimed also that these figures belong to the researches done by the British officers visited each and every settlement in the region, sometimes even on horseback or by any means necessary to count the people properly in 1919.

However we have discovered the same figures in the report of Wikie Young, one of the staff of British Consulate in Mosul, who clearly states his own estimates by saying that the inhabitants of Kirkuk at that time was 40,000, save 3000 non Muslims, the rest (i.e. 37,000) were all Turkmen.

He adds 1,500 Turkmen living in Tuzhurmato, 10,000 Turkmen in Telafer and quarter of Erbil inhabitants who were as much as 60000(i.e. 15000) were Turkmen. He also mentions that the all Bayat tribe people were Turkmen, say 2500 at that time. The total is 66000. (The Report of Mr. Young dated 5th.April 1910, The National Archives, File No: FO 371/1008.

If we look at the figures presented by the Turkish delegation at that time, we see that the Turks were not claiming that they have collected these figures by officers riding on horsebacks, but from the official records of the state which used to be registered by each part of the Ottoman Empire. These figures were registered before the war when there was no reason to exaggerate the numbers at all. The figures mentioned in this statement show the Turkmen at 146,000.

The same statements show the Kurds at that time at 263,000. If we consider the estimations made in the Oil for Food programme of the United Nations and the percentage adopted in the new Iraqi budgets we see that the Kurds are at 17% of the Iraqi population. Now, 17% of 25 million should be slightly more than 4 million. If we consider in the absence of a real census in Iraq that the Turkmen are above 2 million, we see that really the figures of the Turkish delegation were accurate.

The British authorities never denied that the majority of Kirkuk is Turkmen. This was even stated in 1952 in a report from the British Ambassador in Iraq Mr. J.M. Trulbil, addressed to the British Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anthony Eden, about the former’s visit to Kirkuk, Suleimaniya and Erbil during the period from 10-14 May 1952, he stated:

“The issue of minorities in Iraq is based on the relationship between the Arabs and non-Arabs, and this relation is evident now than ever before. The coexistence and harmony is clearly demonstrated in Kirkuk, for Turkmens constitute the majority of the population in that region and they live with Arabs and Kurds side by side”. (The British National Archives, London, File No. F.O/173/98738, report of the Oriental Dept. E/1018/2).

We know that the accurate figures of the Turkmen announced by the Iraqi republic after the military coup in 1958 show the real stand as 567 000( as stated in the report of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy watch No. 735, March27, 2003).

If we adopt and again in the absence of accurate census, the growth rates of Iraq in general which based on Iraqi population growth rates being approximately 3.2% throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s; 2.6% in the 80s; 2.4% from 1990-92, and 2.3% in 1993 as per the figures quoted in the 1993 Unified Economic Report published by the Arab Fund for Economics and Social Development; the Arab Monetary Fund, and the Arab Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, then we can calculate this figures nowadays as more than 2 millions.

This fact is in conformity with the above said report stating the percentage of the Turkmen population in Iraq as 9%. In the present we are talking about 25 million living in Iraq, 9% of which is 2,250,000.

Especially in Kirkuk, the situation was always in this regard, until recent attempts began to severely change the ethnic stance of Kirkuk and its surrounding areas. Even the Kurds have accepted this reality during the negotiations between the Iraqi Kurds and the government.

We see in David McDowell’s book, A Modern History of Kurds, ف.B. Tauris, New York 1996, the following statement:

“Mulla Mustafa (Barzani) accused the government of resettling Arabs in the contrasted areas Kirkuk, Khaniqin and Sinjar and told government that he would not accept the census results if the indicate is an Arab majority. He also dismissed the offer of 1965 census, which he said forged. When the government proposed to apply 1957 census to Kirkuk, Mulla Mustafa refused it, since this was bound to show that the Turkmen’s, although outnumbered in the governorate as a whole was still predominant in Kirkuk town.”

I have presented tens of the documents including the official maps and reports of the British government, researchers and authors, which none of them are Turks or Turkmen, stating the ethnic reality of Kirkuk as Turkmen.

In dispute, the majority of the Kurdish authors persistently deny the extent of the historical Turkmen presence in Kirkuk; referring to Shemseddin Sami’s Kamus al Alam (Dictionary of the Individuals) as a factual and reputable authority. It is, in fact, an Ottoman encyclopedia of history and geography which makes the highly-dubious claim that three quarters of Kirkuk’s population are Kurds, the remainder being made up of Turkmen, Arabs and other ethnic groups.
Almost all of these authors refer to what they regard as the most authoritative and reliable sources in this regard. They always mention Shamseddin Sami’s work already referred to, as an author they describe as a Turkish historian and traveler holding no particular allegiance to the Kurds, who had visited Kirkuk and written, according to them, an accurate account of the area and its inhabitants.

As a matter of fact, Shamseddin Sami was not Turkish. He was born in Albania in 1266 (AH) (1849 G) where he received his early education in the Greek school at Yanya, and learned Turkish, Persian and Arabic from a private tutor. He later moved to Istanbul where he launched a newspaper ‘Sabah.’ He then turned to writing fiction, among his early stories being ‘The Love Story of Talat and Fitnat,’ which openly questioned Ottoman marriage traditions and ethics.

He followed this with ‘The Revolution of Kawa, the Blacksmith,’ which depicted the hero’s struggle against the dictator, Dhahhak. The reaction of the Turkish authorities was to exile him to Tripoli, but he eventually returned to Istanbul where he devoted his time to writing language texts and works of non-fiction.

Ironically, Sami was not a traveler at all, never having once visited Kirkuk or Baghdad despite writing knowledgeably and authoritatively about both cities. The reference to his major work, referred to above, in the Islamic Encyclopedia clearly states that he compiled it from information he obtained in Bouillet’s Dictionaries et de Geographie Universal d’Histoire, various Arab and Persian sources and the largely inaccurate reports and records of government officials. His credibility is also seriously undermined by his references to Baghdad as a ‘Turkish’ city where, he claimed, mainly Turkish was spoken, with Arabic being relegated to second place.

Last statement
In a debate, one of the colleagues was mentioning that the Turkmen always exaggerate their numbers in Iraq and that they do not exceed, as he thinks 7-8 hundred thousands.

In my answer I have mentioned that the natural rights of any individual in any community, are totally independent of the latter’s size or strength, in accordance with the principles laid down by the International Declaration of Human rights (and, in addition, upheld by the terms of the aforementioned Iraqi constitution, the temporary constitution which succeeded it and finally the new permanent constitution).

Even if the testimony of Kurdish writers or others like the said colleague is accepted as valid (though they have generally tended to grossly underestimate the numbers of Turkmen in the Kirkuk region) the fact has to be recognized that the Turkmen population actually exceeds that of several entire independent, internationally recognized nations, for instance in The Arabian gulf, Europe and Africa.

I have reminded this friend who resides in Geneva, Switzerland to have a look at the Swiss currency, the Swiss Frank. He would see four native languages on it, including Romansh who at time did not exceed 30,000 people, but had 5 members in Parliament in Bern, not because they were a minority, rather because they had the capability and qualities to hold the seat in the parliament.

We wish to affirm our views as Iraqi Turkmens toward the ethnicities issue in Iraq adopted from the Turkmen Charter, in which we believe: It is the firm belief of the Turkmen that the ideal solution for the ethnic problems in Iraq will come to fruition only when the process builds on a solid foundation that embraces all the ethnicities and groups and considers them all as first class citizens and partners in a single nation. The selection of a free and sovereign united government system should be according to the resolve and free will of the Iraqis.

There should be no attempt to push aside any ethnic group or sect of people and withstand from exaggerating the role of one group over another because of certain exceptional state of affairs.
The Turkmen citizens affirm their respect for a comprehensive decision by the Iraqis that should take into consideration all the Iraqi ethnic groups who should exercise equal rights in shouldering similar duties in the regions that they inhabit and, that this should be conditional on the credible and just demographic census under the supervision of the United Nations after eliminating the last attempt to change this situation in favor of one group.

The Iraqi Turkmen predict a united, democratic, pluralistic and parliamentary Iraq, in which the government will be chosen by a free and credible election according to international standards, and will not be subjected to narrow-minded ethnic determinations in the distribution of authority or governmental positions. In the public service, the Turkmen believe that efficiency, qualifications, experience, and clear vision should become the standard.

Some people talk sometimes about the rosy futures and urge the people not to live in the past but to look forward. May I suggest here that we should specifically in this subject go backward to the past. To adopt and implement the norms accepted in 1948 in the International declaration of Human Rights. Moreover to go back to the Iraqi constitution of 1925, which I believe it was more moderate and acceptable than all constitution followed, including the so called permanent constitution. Let me share with you what I have counted in 2005 constitution. There are references in this to Sunni, Shea, Arab, Arabic, Kurds, Kurdistan, Turkmen, Assyrians, Kildaniens, Yazidies, Sabia, Armenians, Muslims and Christians 25 times. While such a reference in 1925 constitution is only one and it is related to the official language of Iraq provided that the other languages are also respected.

Now we declared what we prefer as Turkmen of Iraq, I wish however to express how anxious we are about the situation in Kirkuk and other Turkmen inhabited areas in Iraq. Let me remind you that, at the opening ceremony of the General Assembly of the United Nations 2005, the Greek Cypriot president Papadopoulos expressed his opinion about how to solve the Turkish Cypriot-Greek Cypriot dispute, by saying that the Turks should dropped into the rest of Cyprus.

He used the ward “Osmosis”. By this, the plan was to melt the Turks into the other part. I am afraid that, what was planned in Cyprus is nowadays implemented and taking place in Turkmen areas of Iraq.

“Osmosis” is taking place to annul the Turkmen presence in Iraq and annex Kirkuk to a specific region. We urge the free world to stop this tragedy.

Please see also:

IRAK: "La parole à la résistance"

Mardi 6 mai 2008 at 18h.00
AGECA 177, rue de Charonne – 75011 Paris

«Irak : la parole à la résistance» Sortie du livre aux Editions Le temps des cerises
(156 pages – 14 euros).-

Introduction de René Lacroix et Sliman Doggui– Choix des textes : Bruno Drweski et Yves Vargas

Il sera présenté par l’Appel franco-arabe (AFA)

Un débat : "Aujourd’hui, la résistance irakienne" suivra la présentation de l’ouvrage, avec la participation de Subhi Toma et de Gilles Munier.
AGECA 177, rue de Charonne – 75011 Paris

IRAQ: UNHCR concerned about funding for refugees, IDPs

DUBAI, 30 April 2008 (IRIN)

- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said it is concerned about funding levels for its programmes for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Iraq. On 29 April UNHCR said it had received just under half of the US$261 million it had requested in January to be able to assist Iraqi IDPs and refugees abroad.

The UNHCR said the amount received was not enough to sustain its programmes in the second half of 2008. As of 22 April, Iraq programme donors included the USA ($95.4 million), Canada ($1.5 million), the UK ($6.2 million), Germany ($3.9 million), Sweden ($2.3 million), Finland ($1.5 million), the European Commission ($6.3 million), Kuwait ($1 million), France ($740,000), Switzerland ($702,000), Italy ($292,000), and private donors ($109,000).

Sybella Wilkes, UNHCR's regional public information officer, told IRIN on 30 April the UNHCR was not yet talking about scaling down its aid programmes for Iraqi refugees and IDPs because it was aware that different donors had different funding cycles, and it hoped further funds would be available after June. However, Wilkes said: "If no funds are available it will really hurt the most vulnerable Iraqis...It would really make a difference between surviving and not surviving."

At present, some 12,000 people (mostly heads of families) receive monthly financial assistance of US$100-$200 to meet their most urgent needs. Their position will be dire should the funds not materialise. Wilkes said that while in September 2007, some 33,000 people needed food aid, the number had now risen to over 110,000. "By the end of the year that would increase by tens of thousands," she said.

Survey At a Geneva press briefing on 29 April UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis released the results of a UNHCR-commissioned survey of nearly 1,000 Iraqis in Syria. The survey said 95 percent of the Iraqis said they had fled their homeland because of direct threats or general insecurity, and that only 4 percent planned to return to Iraq.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, 4.7 million Iraqis have abandoned their homes. Of these, over 2 million are living as refugees in neighbouring countries - mostly Syria and Jordan - while 2.7 million are IDPs.

The latest assessment on returns to Iraq was carried out for the UNHCR by the IPSOS market research agency in Syria, 2-18 March. In total, 994 Iraqi refugees were interviewed in Damascus at UNHCR's registration and food distribution sites, in community centres or during home visits, Pagonis said. Of those interviewed 86 percent were registered with UNHCR, while 14 percent had not yet been registered.

A total of 95 percent said they had fled Iraq in recent years, either due to direct threats (65 percent) or general insecurity (30 percent). Some 2 percent had left Iraq before 2003; 44 percent between 2003 and 2006; and 54 percent after 2006. A total of 94 percent had a valid residency permit in Syria. According to the survey, only 39 out of 994 people - 4 percent - are planning to return to Iraq. Of the 39 people, 31 percent plan to return within the next 12 months and the remainder has not set a date.

A total of 89.5 percent (890 out of 994) are not planning to return to Iraq, while 6.5 percent (65 out of 994) do not know if they are returning to Iraq.

The UNHCR said: "The survey demonstrated not only the highly mobile nature of this population, with 34 percent having visited Iraq once or twice in the last year, but also Iraqis are in touch with their home areas and people who have returned voluntarily." The survey further shows that of the 27 percent who report knowing people who have already returned to Iraq, 62 percent are still in contact. "Of those Iraqis who knew people who had returned, 77 percent provided feedback that stated that the conditions at home were not satisfactory for a variety of reasons", said the UNHCR.

Some 61 percent said they did not wish to return because they would be under direct threat in Iraq; 29 percent did not want to return because of the general insecurity in Iraq; 8 percent said their home in Iraq had been destroyed or was occupied by others; 1 percent said they had no job in Iraq; and 1 percent said they no longer had any relatives left at home. A similar survey was conducted in Jordan, where a smaller number of Iraqis (400) were interviewed during the first three weeks of March. The results of that survey are still being analysed. ar/cb

Comité pour la défense de Tarek Aziz et des prisonniers politiques irakiens


Création d’un Comité pour la défense de Tarek Aziz
et des prisonniers politiques irakiens

Maître Vergès confirme qu’il ira à Bagdad défendre Tarek Aziz

Le procès de Tarek Aziz a été renvoyé au mardi 20 mai après la courte audience tenue le 28 avril dernier, au cours de laquelle le Vice-Premier ministre irakien a nié toute implication dans les charges retenues contre lui et réclamé un nouvel avocat irakien. Le sien - Maître Badie Aref - étant réfugié à Amman pour des « raisons de sécurité » : les Américains ne voulaient plus assurer sa protection après qu’il ait reçu des menaces de mort et qu’un mandat d’arrêt ait été lancé contre lui…

Maître Jacques Vergès nous a déclaré qu’il assurera la défense internationale de Tarek Aziz comme le lui a demandé le Vice-Premier ministre il y a deux ans, demande confirmée le 29 avril 2008, par télécopie, par Ziad Aziz - fils du dirigeant irakien - et par Maître Badie.

Maître Vergès va demander un visa à l’ambassade d’Irak à Paris pour se rendre à Bagdad défendre son client.

Un Comité pour la défense de Tarek Aziz et des prisonniers politiques irakiens est créé à l’initiative de Gilles Munier qui contactera les signataires de l’appel qu’il a lancé en mai 2003 pour qu’ils manifestent à nouveau leur soutien au Vice-Premier ministre irakien. Le Comité se réunira pour élire son président.

L’appel pour la libération de Tarek Aziz, reprenant les premiers signataires, a été ensuite relancé et élargi au niveau international par le parlementaire britannique George Galloway .

Pour la France, parmi plus d’une centaine de signatures, on notait celles de :
Jean-Pierre Chevènement (ancien ministre) - Michel Debray ( Vice-amiral en 2ème section) - Michel Lelong (prêtre) – Général Pierre Gallois (CR) - Thierry Mariani (député) - Philippe de Saint Robert (écrivain) – Andrée Michel (directrice honoraire de recherche au CNRS) – Didier Julia (député) - Maurice Buttin (avocat) - Claude Gaucherand (Contre amiral en 2ème section) - Michel Grimard (président du Mouvement Chrétien Vème République) - Maurice Cannet (général – CR ) - Jacques Gaillot (évêque) - Jean-Pierre Bastid (romancier) – Paul-Marie Couteaux (député européen) - Charles Saint Prot (écrivain) – ) – Pierre Levy (journaliste) - Bruno Drweski (maître de conférence) – Alain Corvez (colonel) - Edmond Jouve (professeur aux universités) – Robert Vial (journaliste) - Georges Labica (professeur émérite des universités) – Amaury Couderc (ex-élu régional et maire) - Paul Balta (écrivain) – Sliman Doggui (neurologue) – Gérard Godfroy (ancien directeur de la Foire de Rennes) – Jean Picollec (éditeur) – Roland Lafitte (écrivain) – Patricia Latour (écrivain) – Xavière Jardez (juriste)…. etc

Pour communiquer avec ses membres et informer l’opinion publique, le Comité pour la défense de Tarek Aziz et des prisonniers politiques irakiens a ouvert :
- une adresse courriel :

Rennes, le 30 avril 2008

Contact pour la France - Gilles Munier : 06 19 74 45 99

Uzbek and Uighur detainees in Guantanamo concentration camp

Detainees’ Mental Health Is Latest Legal Battle
By William Glaberson

Next month, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who was once a driver for Osama bin Laden, could become the first detainee to be tried for war crimes in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. By now, he should be busily working on his defense.

But his lawyers say he cannot. They say Mr. Hamdan has essentially been driven crazy by solitary confinement in an 8-foot-by-12-foot cell where he spends at least 22 hours a day, goes to the bathroom and eats all his meals. His defense team says he is suicidal, hears voices, has flashbacks, talks to himself and says the restrictions of Guantánamo “boil his mind.”
“He will shout at us,” said his military defense lawyer, Lt. Cmdr. Brian L. Mizer. “He will bang his fists on the table.”

His lawyers have asked a military judge to stop his case until Mr. Hamdan is placed in less restrictive conditions at Guantánamo, saying he cannot get a fair trial if he cannot focus on defending himself. The judge is to hear arguments as soon as Monday on whether he has the power to consider the claim.

Critics have long asserted that Guantánamo’s climate-controlled isolation is a breeding ground for madness. But turning that into a legal claim marks a new stage for the military commissions at Guantánamo. As military prosecutors push to get trials under way, they are being met with challenges not just to the charges, but to Guantánamo itself.

Pentagon officials say that Guantánamo holds dangerous men humanely and that there is no unusual quantity of mental illness there. Guantánamo, a military spokeswoman said, does not have solitary confinement, only “single-occupancy cells.”
In response to questions, Cmdr. Pauline A. Storum, the spokeswoman for Guantánamo, asserted that detainees were much healthier psychologically than the population in American prisons. Commander Storum said about 10 percent could be found mentally ill, compared, she said with data showing that more than half of inmates in American correctional institutions had mental health problems.

With their filings, Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers are setting the stage for similar challenges to the procedures of Guantánamo in some 80 expected war crimes cases, lawyers for other detainees say. “The issue of mistreatment of prisoners, the miserable lives they live in these cells, will come up in every case,” said Clive Stafford Smith, a lawyer for 35 detainees.

The case of Salim Hamdan is already a landmark because the Supreme Court used an earlier case against him to strike down the Bush administration’s first military commission system in 2006. But that case, like most of the legal battles over Guantánamo, did not affect conditions there.

Detainees lawyers argue that the effects of intense isolation have gradually turned the prison camp into something of a highly fortified mental ward. Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers say his place as one of the best-known detainees has not spared him.

In more than six years of detention, Mr. Hamdan has had two phone calls to his family and no visits. He has been disciplined, legal filings say, for having a Snickers bar that was given to him by his lawyers and for possessing too many socks.

“Conditions are asphalt, excrement and worse,” he wrote his lawyers in February. “Why, why, why?”

At Guantánamo, there are no family visits, no televisions and no radios. A new policy will for the first time permit one telephone call a year.

In the cells where Mr. Hamdan and more than 200 of Guantánamo’s 280 detainees are held, communication with other detainees is generally by shouting through the slit in the door used for the delivery of meals. Mail is late and often censored, lawyers say.
Conditions are more isolating than many death rows and maximum-security prisons in the United States, said Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who is an expert on American prison conditions.

The military prosecutors declined to comment on the claims about Mr. Hamdan’s condition. As is common at Guantánamo, their legal filings were not made public before the scheduled court date. But defense filings released by Mr. Hamdan’s lawyers recited some prosecution arguments.
The prosecutors argued that the way that Mr. Hamdan was being held did not constitute solitary confinement in part because “detainees can communicate through the walls.” They said that Mr. Hamdan had denied having mental problems and that he was no model detainee, spitting at guards, threatening assault and throwing urine.
Speaking generally, Commander Storum said, detainees are enemy combatants held safely. “We are holding the right people,” she added, “in the right place, for the right reasons, and doing it the right way.”
Prosecutors have said Mr. Hamdan, now about 39, helped Mr. bin Laden elude capture after the 2001 terror attacks. He is charged with transporting weapons for Al Qaeda and being a bin Laden bodyguard and driver.

In recent weeks, his case has drawn wide notice because the defense asserted that senior Pentagon officials exerted improper influence over military prosecutors and pressed cases for political reasons. Hearings on that issue, also scheduled for next week, may expose the internal workings of the military commissions. The former chief Guantánamo prosecutor, Col. Morris D. Davis, who has become a critic of the way the war crimes system is run, is slated to testify for Mr. Hamdan.

But the claim about Mr. Hamdan’s mental health could expose the workings of Guantánamo. According to military statistics, three-quarters of the detainees have been held recently in two “camps” that look much like American prisons. Camp 5 and Camp 6, heavily guarded concrete buildings, hold men who have yet to face trial. Behind a heavy door, each cell has a handful of sanctioned items including a cup and a Koran.

Officials concede that the daily two hours of recreation in a chain-link pen is sometimes offered in the dark. From inside their cells, detainees cannot see the outdoors. From the exercise pens they sometimes can see only a sliver of sky.

Michael E. Mone Jr., a Boston lawyer, visited a client last month in Camp 5, where Mr. Hamdan is held. Mr. Mone said his client, an Uzbek detainee, asked why he could not be held in a place where he could see the sun.
This winter, lawyers for Abdulghappar Turkistani, a detainee in Camp 6, received a letter describing life there. “Losing any contact with anyone,” he wrote, “also being forbidden from the natural sunlight, natural air, being surrounded with a metal box all around is not suitable for a human being.”

Reporters are not permitted to interview detainees, and some international groups, like Amnesty International, have been denied access to detainees.

In leaked reports in 2004 investigators for the International Committee of the Red Cross, who do see detainees, said their treatment, including solitary confinement, amounted to torture. But the Red Cross usually keeps its conclusions private.

As a result, much of what is known about current conditions at Guantánamo comes from lawyers, who visit regularly under tight restrictions. Many describe the men as depressed or delusional. Some, they say, show obvious signs of what some of them call Guantánamo psychosis.
Four detainees are believed to have committed suicide in 2006 and 2007, but the military has never released the official details.

Some of the men are increasingly paranoid and some are losing touch with reality, said Rebecca P. Dick, a Washington lawyer who visited two Afghan detainees in March. “One client said, ‘I’m talking to the ceiling now,’ ” Ms. Dick recalled.

Six detainees, according to military officials, are now on hunger strikes. They are fed liquid nutrition through tubes inserted in their nostrils daily.

Mr. Stafford Smith said one of his clients, a hunger striker, was fixated on a mathematical formula that he believed proves that he will be the next to die.
Another detainee, Mr. Stafford Smith said, has smeared feces on his cell walls. “When I asked him why he was doing it, he told me he had no idea,” Mr. Stafford Smith said.

Last month a lawyer for nine detainees who are members of China’s Uighur ethnic minority told a Congressional committee that one of them, Huzaifa Parhat, said that life at Guantánamo was like having already died. The lawyer, P. Sabin Willett, said Mr. Parhat asked the lawyers to pass on a message. He told them to tell his wife to remarry.

Military officials often dismiss such descriptions as accounts by gullible lawyers manipulated by terrorists trained to make false claims of mistreatment.
Detainees’ lawyers say the military methodically understates the mental illness at Guantánamo for public relations reasons.
In military commission proceedings in recent weeks, there have been hints that some of the men facing charges may be deteriorating psychologically.
A military lawyer for a Sudanese detainee said her client appeared frantic and asked that he be evaluated.
When a judge asked a Saudi detainee the name of a lawyer, the detainee’s answer was: “I have been here for six years. Thank God I can even still remember the names of my own family.”
But Mr. Hamdan’s case is the first in the current system to try to air fully the claim that Guantánamo is warping the minds of the men held there.

Commander Mizer said Mr. Hamdan talked unendingly about his desire to moved to Camp 4, the only place at Guantánamo where detainees are permitted to live communally. Camp 4 is believed to house 50 or fewer detainees who officials classify as highly compliant. Mr. Hamdan blames his lawyers for failing to get him out of Camp 5, Commander Mizer said, and will talk only about that. “He refuses to talk about his case,” he said.

The trial is now set to begin on May 28. But twice in recent months, Commander Mizer said, Mr. Hamdan has said he was dismissing Commander Mizer from the case. “He said, ‘I don’t ever want to see you again,’ ” Commander Mizer said.
There is only one subject, he said, that Mr. Hamdan discusses: Getting out of his cell in Camp 5 at Guantánamo Bay.

Stephen Soldz: Psychoanalyst, Psychologist, Researcher, and Activist -
Driving Guantanamo Detainees Insane:

Sadr City attacks are killing mostly unarmed civilians

Sunni parliamentarian: "Sadr City attacks are killing mostly unarmed civilians"
badger, Arablinks

In this photo 2 year old Ali Hussein is seen being pulled from the rubble of his family’s home in Sadr City Tuesday, April 29, 2008. Ali’s home was one of four destroyed by U.S. missiles. Ali died in hospital a few hours later.(

April 29, 2008

A member of the Iraqi Accord Front (biggest Sunni bloc in parliament) Ahmed Radhi, who was in Sadr City on Sunday as part of the multi-party sit-in, repeated yesterday the call to implement the group's demands for an end to the crisis, and he said: "The majority of those who are being killed are civilians, and not armed persons."

And another Sunni deputy, Mustafa al-Heeti, from the Iraqi Dialogue Front, said at a press conference with other members of that group: "I urge an end to the military operations, an adoption of the language of dialogue, and an prompt meeting of the council (government executive committee, the so-called three plus one) in order to end the military operations."

Both statements are reported by Aswat al Iraq.

Rather than any easing, there was a dramatic escalation in military operations in Sadr City, where US forces intervened in one case with Abrams tanks, killing 22, and in another case with airstrikes killing 16. (See this summary in AlHayat, among many other accounts). *

And at the same time, the GreenZone and US accusations against Iran have taken on a new stridency. For instance, AlHayat reminds readers that US officials have said the Sadr City campaign is against "special groups" of criminals that are supported by Iran. And here's how Azzaman leads its main story this morning: "Armed groups linked to Iran took advangage of the bad weather for the third time, launching a round of self-propelled Katyusha rockets at various locations in the Green Zone..."

So along with (1) signs of domestic political solidarity against the attacks on Sadr City; and (2) dramatic military escalation in Sadr City; there is also (3) a sharper framing of this as a struggle between Iraq on the one side, and Iranian proxies on the other.

It's worth trying to keep the overall picture in mind, because there is a tendency not only in the corporate media, but in the Washington-based commentary as well, to talk exclusively about the third point, to the almost complete exclusion of the first two. As if America, politically and militarily, was some kind of a passive bystander.


* Update to Tuesday evening Baghdad time: VOI quotes a medical source who said in the period from 11 am to 6 pm Tuesday April 29, US forces shelled sectors 10 and 11 of Sadr City, causing 24 deaths and 60 injuries. The medical source said most of the victims were women and children. And everyone is silent.

mardi 29 avril 2008


Pour la première fois en France, une exposition retrace, au musée du Louvre, le fabuleux destin de la ville mythique de Mésopotamie. Cinq mille ans d’histoire en 400 oeuvres uniques. Remarquable.


A lire: "Oh, Babylone!" par Bachar Rahmani paru dans AFRIQUE-ASIE (mai 2008):

Qui veut assassiner Moqtada al-Sadr? par Gilles Munier

Irak « La charge des chevaliers », opération militaire lancée à Bassora fin mars par Nouri al-Maliki, devait porter un coup fatal à l’Armée du Mahdi, la milice de Moqtada al-Sadr. Elle s’est
transformée en humiliation pour le premier ministre irakien, et en déconfiture pour le général Petraeus qui la soutenait.

Cet article de Gilles MUNIER est publié dans AFRIQUE-ASIE de mai 2008:

War Propaganda: Disneyland goes to warn-torn Iraq

by Michel Chossudovsky

please click on link below for more photos:

Disneyland goes to war-torn Iraq, with a multi-million dollar entertainment complex, to be built on a 50 acre lot adjacent to the Green Zone.

The American-style amusement park will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum.

The occupation forces are of the opinion that Baghdad is "lacking in entertainment". General David Petraeus, is said to be a “big supporter” of bringing Disneyland to Baghdad.

The entertainment park is an integral part of war propaganda.

Establishing an American cultural outpost in an occupied land serves to uphold the legitimacy of the invaders and their Worldwide "cultural values".

Most of the country's cultural and educational infrastructure including museums, schools, universities, parks, theaters, cinemas have been destroyed and now the invaders are "helping to rebuild".

Through Hollywood imagery, the Baghdad style Disneyland is intended to nurture Iraqi public opinion, to mould a pro-American view of the World. Through the use of motion based simulations and sophisticated entertainment equipment, the harsh daily realities of poverty and military occupation are replaced by a World of fiction and fantasy.

The concept underlying Disney's Imagineering (developed by RSE) is to "overcome the barriers between reality and dreams".

The objective is to replace reality by a dream world.

Iraq's daily realities of death, destruction and torture are replaced by a "Dream World Made in America".

The imagery and motion simulations intended for Iraqi children and adolescents provide a "human face" to the American invaders.

The project constitutes a despicable form of war propaganda. It is a cover-up of the extensive war crimes committed against the Iraqi people in the name of an illusory "American Dream".

The project will take possession of the existing Al Zawra park and Baghdad Zoo, which was ransacked when US troops entered Baghdad in April 200Also in April 2003, Iraq's archeological treasures were looted with the support of American invaders. The pillaging of Iraq's cultural heritage was a premeditated act. The looters were protected by the invaders.

And now the looters return to Baghdad with a new museum

Psychological Warfare

The Baghdad Disneyland-style project has all the essential features of a PsyOp. It is intended to instill American values and destroy Iraqi identity.

"The people [of Iraq] need this kind of positive influence. Its going to have a huge psychological impact," said Mr. Werner of C3, who was referring to the role of RSE motion simulations underlying RSE's "imagineering" technology.

In a cruel irony the PsyOp target group are Iraqi Children:

“There are all sorts of investment opportunities all over Iraq. But it’s not just hydrocarbons. Half the Iraqi population is under the age of 15. These kids really need something to do,” (Mr. Brinkley, quoted in The Times, April 24, 2008)

Iraq's cultural heritage is destroyed.

The historical memory of Mesopotamia is wiped out.

US investors are to "bring badly needed fun" to the war theater.

The sponsor of project Mr. Llewellyn Werner says the time is ripe for a "fun park":

"I think people will embrace it. They'll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they're Shia or Sunni. They'll say their kids deserve a place to play and they'll leave it alone."

According to a spokesman for the US installed Iraqi regime:

“There is a shortage of entertainment in the city. Cinemas can’t open. Playgrounds can’t open. The fun park is badly needed for Baghdad. Children don’t have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood.” Mr al-Dabbagh added that entry to the park would be strictly controlled." (Times, April 23, 2008)

Children don’t have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood?

Imagine the road-blocks and military check points that Iraqi children will have to go through to see Mickey Mouse...

The US investment company will essentially take possession of municipal lands in an undisclosed deal reached with the Mayor of Baghdad.

At the moment the site is occupied by the Al-Zawra park and zoo, where Baghdad residents gather on weekends. The park is typically Iraqi with ponds, fountains, sculptures, and children’s playgrounds.

The site is a national park, which is slated for privatization. It is prime real estate for the US investors

lundi 28 avril 2008

Turkmeneli Party's letter to the Iraqi Parliament

Letter to Iraqi parliament – legal committee
Monday 28/04/2008

Turkmeneli party addressed the Iraqi parliament – legal committee through a letter with some proposal about the upcoming governorate counsels election

To: House of Representatives - legal committee

Permanent Iraqi constitution in its fourth quarter, article 121 regarding local administrations include the following: "This constitution guarantees the administrative, political, cultural, educational rights of various ethnicities (Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other components) and regulates that by a law" Depending on 1992’s election of Kurdistan National Assembly, the seats allocation for Turkmen, Assyrians and Chaldeans and using special funds for them, should be taken into account to represent all components of the Iraqi people in the House as stated in Article (47) first paragraph of the Iraqi Constitution.

We hope that all members of the Committee and the House of Representatives will take into consideration the following proposals: --

1 - Relying on 1957 census with ration card records for Kirkuk province to organize voter’s registration for the provincial council elections due to special circumstances surrounding the governorate.

2 - Using electronic system for the elections in the governorate of Kirkuk to prevent forgery.

3 - Allocation 32% of seats for each of the Turkmen, Arabs, Kurds and 4% for Assyrians.

4 – Setting special criteria for candidate to governorate council – the candidate should be from Kirkuk inhabitant for the last 10 years as minimum.

5 – Taking into account the representation of all ethnical components in the provincial councils of Baghdad, Diyala, Salahuddin, to ensure real participation of all parties in local council and prevent fraud and disputes between the components.

Turkmeneli Party Office of Jurists 27/4/2008

Warring Factions to Gather in Iraq

By Farah Stockman The Boston Globe
Monday 28 April 2008

UMass scholar sets new round of talks.

Washington - After a weekend of closed-door negotiations in Helsinki, a group of rival members of Iraq's parliament and tribal leaders are set to announce today that they will gather in Baghdad for the first time for a further round of talks that they hope will lay the foundation for peace in their troubled country.

"Progress has been made," Padraig O'Malley, the UMass-Boston professor and veteran peace activist who organized the meeting, said in a phone interview from the Finnish capital.

O'Malley said the participants agreed upon all but three of 16 broad principles, which he hopes the Iraqi Parliament will eventually endorse, laying the framework for negotiations to reconcile Iraq's warring parties and militias. He said the participants hoped that that their talks would lead to a detailed agreement on core issues that have plagued Iraq, including disarming militias associated with political parties, protecting the rights of minorities, and reducing corruption in government.

So far, the participants have declined to make details of their discussions public to avoid creating too much debate and acrimony in Iraq, O'Malley said. They are planning to announce their progress at a press conference at the Helsinki airport today before returning to Iraq.

The first meeting organized by O'Malley, held in September of 2007 at an undisclosed location in Helsinki, was kept secret because of security concerns and out of a desire to have participants freely discuss their views without the scrutiny of the media.

Participants at the weekend meeting included Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Badr Organization, a Shi'ite group considered the armed wing of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, one of the most powerful Shi'ite parties, as well as Fouad Massom, a Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament's constitutional review committee, and Usama al-Tikrit, the leader of the Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic party and a former classmate of Saddam Hussein.

Four tribal sheiks - two Sunni and two Shi'ite - also attended.

One notable absence, however, was that of the representative from the movement loyal to cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. He had been scheduled to attend but called at the last minute to say he was unable to make the flight. As part of a crackdown ordered by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq, supporters of Sadr have been fighting US and Iraqi forces in Sadr City, his Baghdad stronghold, in a battle that has cost dozens of lives.

The weekend's Helsinki meeting was an exercise in unconventional diplomacy. Up until now, most of the reconciliation efforts have been organized by the Arab League, the US State Department, or the Iraqi government. This meeting was organized by O'Malley, the Institute of Global Leadership at Tufts, and the Crisis Management Initiative, a Finnish nongovernmental organization.

O'Malley, who has worked to bring warring factions in Northern Ireland and South Africa together in the past, also invited Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, former South African president Nelson Mandela's negotiator, and Martin McGuinness, a former Irish Republican Army commander, to chair this weekend's meetings.

But O'Malley's effort follows several reconciliation efforts that failed to put the country on a path toward peace. In 2005, the Arab League hosted a national reconciliation conference for Iraq in Cairo, but momentum was lost when follow-up meetings were postponed because of disagreements over who would attend. In 2006, King Abdullah II of Jordan invited Iraqi tribal and religious leaders to a "reconciliation summit," but those talks did not stem the tide of violence. Maliki has held a series of national reconciliation conferences inside Iraq, but they have been plagued by boycotts and political posturing by the various factions.

"Anything that adds to the amount of discussion [between the various parties] is useful," said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist at the Congressional Research Service, an arm of Congress. "But I don't think this group has a monopoly on any formula that will lead to a solution that no one else has found yet. There are underlying rifts in the society that no amount of meetings in Europe or elsewhere are going to resolve."

P.J. Crowley, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, who was on President Clinton's National Security Council staff, said that summits organized by nongovernmental entities can help warring parties clarify their views and come closer to hammering out a political solution. But ultimately, he said, the parties "have to unify behind that vision, and that's the toughest part."

He said the success of the effort in Helsinki will depend on whether parties who did not participate torpedo any progress, and whether those who attended are powerful enough to persuade the communities they represent to accept the decisions made at the meetings.
"One question is: What kind of authority do those who are involved actually have?" Crowley said. "Is there anyone there actually representing the Maliki government? The Badr people are there, but do the Badr negotiators actually have some authority?"

Despite the skepticism, O'Malley, who spent much of last week in Baghdad motivating and organizing the Iraqi participants to come to the meeting, remained relentlessly upbeat. He described a scenario in which peace unfolds slowly, in stages, and begins with a small group of committed individuals like those who he met with this weekend. He said the fact that the Iraqis opted to hold the next meeting within three months in Baghdad - along with their South African and Irish facilitators - is a significant sign of their commitment to broker peace.

"Rather than us having to take people to Helsinki, they have said, 'We will do this in Baghdad," he said. "The important thing is that they have taken ownership of it."



29 AVRIL 2008 :
et de 7 autres dirigeants irakiens

Déclaration de Gilles Munier, Secrétaire général

J’ai appris que le procès du Vice-Président irakien Tarek Aziz s’ouvrira le mardi 29 avril 2008. Il sera jugé ainsi que et de 7 autres dirigeants irakiens, parmi lesquels deux demi-frères de Saddam Hussein, le directeur de la Banque centrale et un ancien ministre des Finances.

Alors qu’aucune charge n’était retenue contre lui depuis son arrestation en avril 2003 par les troupes américaines, il est brusquement accusé d’avoir participé - en 1992 - à la décision de pendre 42 commerçants irakiens condamnés à mort pour avoir augmenté le prix de denrées alimentaires tandis que la population souffrait de l’embargo international.

Me souvenant de ces événements survenus lors d’un de mes multiples séjours en Irak, je tiens à préciser que le commerce n’était pas du ressort de Tarek Aziz et que l’ordre d’exécuter la sentence n’a pas été pris à son niveau.

Le procès étant présidé par le juge Raouf Abdul-Rahman, qui a condamné le Président Saddam Hussein à mort en 2006, il faut s’attendre à une parodie de justice suivie d’exécutions sommaires.

Pour commencer, Maître Badie Aref, son avocat, ne pourra pas le défendre. Menacé de mort, il s’est réfugié en Jordanie après que les Américains l’aient prévenu qu’ils n’assureraient plus sa protection. En Irak, cela signifie le risque d’être enlevé, torturé et tué dans des conditions horribles, comme cela a été le cas de Khamis Al-Obeidi, un des avocats du Président Saddam Hussein.

Parmi les accusés se trouve Mizban Khidr Hadi, membre du Conseil de Commandement de la Révolution. Je l’ai rencontré à Bagdad, un soir de septembre 1990, pendant la crise dite des otages précédant la première guerre du Golfe. Je lui avais demandé d’intervenir pour la libération de 9 Français dont j’avais remis la liste des noms au Vice-président irakien Taha Yassin Ramadan. Mizban avait fait en sorte que la demande soit étudiée en priorité, faisant placer le dossier sur le haut de la pile des affaires urgentes traitées par Président Saddam Hussein. Ils ont été autorisés à quitter Bagdad quelques jours plus tard.

Le procès de Tarek Aziz et des 7 dirigeants irakiens est illégal. Il viole notamment les conventions de Genève de 1949. Qui parmi les chefs d’Etats, arabes ou non, osera condamner cette atteinte portée au traitement des prisonniers de guerre ?

Quelles vont être les réactions des personnalités françaises, européennes ou russes qui connaissent bien le Vice-Président irakien? Auront-elles le courage d’intervenir en sa faveur ?

Qu’on ne nous parle surtout pas, concernant la défense de Tarek Aziz, de « solidarité chrétienne ». Elle n’existe pas. L’embargo et la guerre d’Irak ont signé la disparition de cette communauté religieuse dans l’indifférence quasi générale.

La libération de Tarek Aziz et des prisonniers politiques irakiens doit être exigée au nom des droits de l’homme. Les dirigeants chiites pro-iraniens et les officiers américains qui se rendraient complices de leur assassinat seront passibles d’une cour de justice spéciale pour crime de guerre. Il faut le leur signifier.

Rennes, le 25 avril 2008

Contact : Gilles Munier : – Tel : 06 19 74 45 99

samedi 26 avril 2008

UN JOUR, UN JOUR de Louis Aragon

Tout ce que l'homme fut de grand et de sublime
Sa protestation ses chants et ses héros
Au dessus de ce corps et contre ses bourreaux
A Grenade aujourd'hui surgit devant le crime

Et cette bouche absente et Lorca qui s'est tu
Emplissant tout à coup l'univers de silence
Contre les violents tourne la violence
Dieu le fracas que fait un poète qu'on tue

Un jour pourtant un jour viendra couleur d'orange
Un jour de palme un jour de feuillages au front
Un jour d'épaule nue où les gens s'aimeront
Un jour comme un oiseau sur la plus haute branche

Ah je désespérais de mes frères sauvages
Je voyais je voyais l'avenir à genoux
La Bête triomphante et la pierre sur nous
Et le feu des soldats porté sur nos rivages

Quoi toujours ce serait par atroce marché
Un partage incessant que se font de la terre
Entre eux ces assassins que craignent les panthères
Et dont tremble un poignard quand leur main l'a touché

Un jour pourtant un jour viendra couleur d'orange
Un jour de palme un jour de feuillages au front
Un jour d'épaule nue où les gens s'aimeront
Un jour comme un oiseau sur la plus haute branche

Quoi toujours ce serait la guerre la querelle
Des manières de rois et des fronts prosternés
Et l'enfant de la femme inutilement né
Les blés déchiquetés toujours des sauterelles

Quoi les bagnes toujours et la chair sous la roue
Le massacre toujours justifié d'idoles
Aux cadavres jeté ce manteau de paroles
Le bâillon pour la bouche et pour la main le clou

Un jour pourtant un jour viendra couleur d'orange
Un jour de palme un jour de feuillages au front
Un jour d'épaule nue où les gens s'aimeront
Un jour comme un oiseau sur la plus haute branche


Turkmens, Turkmeneli and the Musul Region, by Orhan Ketene - PART II

Turkmeneli: region indicated in blue on the map

The Role of the Turkmens in the Iraqi History:

Being the local backbone of the above mentioned empires and states in Iraq, the Turkmens formed the bulk of the army and the administrative elite throughout the Middle East. Especially in Iraq, there are numerous monuments universities, mosques, cities, bridges and other achievements from that long era. Throughout their history the Turkmens defended Iraq and Syria from foreign invaders:

1- They drove out the Crusaders in the 11th century after fighting for 70 years under the command of Imadeddin Zengi the Atabeg of Musul and Salahaddin Eyyubi who was brought up by the Zengi family.
2- They defended Baghdad against the Mongol invaders in 1258 especially the heroic efforts of commander “Aytoghdu” and his Turkish battalion. Eventually, all Mongols were assimilated and blended with other Turkish tribes.
3- They defended Iraq against the Iranians and prevented them from occupying Iraq through many wars that started in 1508 and ended in 1638.
4- They defended Iraq against the Wahhabi Bedouins who attacked the Shiite holy sites in Karbala, Kufa and Najaf in the century and drove them out of the country.

The most important issue is that during this long period, the Turkmens, being part of or related to the rulers, never harmed the local peoples, there were no massacres, no ethnic cleansing, and no force to change other people’s languages or religions. On the contrary they blended with the locals, and in some cases even assimilated. Today we know that almost half of the Bayat tribe has been arabized.

The Politics of Oil :

With the beginning of the century, oil was becoming the prime source of energy. The British, with the help of their intelligence network and “archeological” explorations, knew that Kerkuk area in the Musul province had large deposits of oil. As a fact, the eternal fire of Baba Gurgur was burning for thousands of years, oil and tar was being used by the local people since the beginning of history. In order to stay as global super power it was necessary for Britain to possess those oilfields. Therefore, the British laid plans to end the Ottoman Empire years before the First World War. As a first step Kuwait was occupied in 1899, to serve as a foothold to invade Iraq when the time was right.

In the meantime the British oil companies were attempting to buy those oil rich lands privately. Sultan Abdulhamid II., through his powerful intelligence agency, “The Special Organization” or “Teshkilat-i Makhsusa”, knew about the British intentions in the oil fields of Musul. So, he purchased those lands as crown properties to protect them from being sold to foreign companies, then he ordered the establishment of the Turkish Petroleum Company, a Turkish-German joint venture and gave it exclusive rights to explore oil in those lands. He also connected Musul to Anatolia through the Toros Railway.

The First World War and the British Tactics:

The Ottoman Empire recognizing the power of the British Empire, tried to ally itself with Britain, and as a sign of good will, they ordered for the building of two of the most advanced and expensive war ships, at that time, by the British “Vickers” company and paid for them in advance. But the British, as previously planned, did every thing possible to intimidate the Turks and push them into the opposite German camp. Therefore, it allied itself with Russia, the eternal enemy of the Turks. And to further provoke them, Britain confiscated both war ships, “Sultan Osman” and “Reshadiye” which were ready to go to Turkey.

The Germans immediately compensated the Turks with two legendary German warships “Breslau” and “Goeben” which sailed to Istanbul then continued to the Black sea under a Turkish flag to bombard the Russian port city of Odessa, pulling the Ottoman Empire into the First World War unwillingly and unprepared.

Britain declared war on Turkey on Nov.5, 1914 and from their bases in Kuwait, they launched an attack and landed in Basra on Nov 7.

The Ottoman army, compared to the British army, was ill equipped, but despite that,
They managed to defeat the British army at the battle of Kut-al-Amara on April 1915, and took General Townsend, prisoner of war.

In order to break the Turkish resistance, the British intelligence service based in Cairo, decided to use Sharif Hussein, the Arab governor of Makka and promised him with help to be the King of all Ottoman Arabia, stretching from Syria and Iraq in the north to Yemen and Oman in the South. Lured by the dream of becoming a Caliph and a king of Arabia, he declared war on the Ottoman Empire on June 5, 1915 starting the Arabian revolution. The British troops landed at the port of Jeddah to help Hussein, and to give the impression of occupying the holy lands of Islam. This critical action forced the Ottomans to divert large numbers of troops to Hejaz, weakening the Iraqi and Syrian fronts. The British sent fresh troops to Iraq and Egypt pushing the Turks to the north.

They occupied Baghdad on 11 March 1917 and managed to sweep through, all the way up to Kerkuk which fell on March 24, 1918. The Ottoman army fought back and recaptured Kerkuk on May 24th 1918, pushing the British to the Himrin Mountains which was the border of the Musul province. But the British changed tactics and prepared to attack Musul from the west bank of the Tigris River, therefore, the Ottoman army withdrew from Kerkuk on October 1918, to strengthen their forces in Qayyara, at the border of the Musul province. Armistice and cease-fire was declared on October 30th , 1918. The First World War had officially ended with rival troops stationed at the southern border of the Musul province.

The war ended and the British still couldn’t achieve the main reason of their mission which was the possession of the oil rich areas of the Musul province, so, ignoring and violating the cease-fire agreement and using article-7 of the armistice regulations as a pretext to occupy any area where there is a local disturbance, they moved towards Musul. In fact, there weren’t any disturbances in Musul except for a provocation by few Armenians who called the British for help, which was a prepared scenario by the British agents to give the occupiers a reason to use this clause. The British General William Marshall, gave an ultimatum to General Ali Ihsan Pasha on November 1918 to evacuate Musul. To avoid further bloodshed and believing that Musul legally belongs to Turkey, the Turkish army started to withdraw on Nov. and by the British troops entered Musul, ending 863 years of Turkish rule in Iraq.

The British Era

Local Resistance:
The people of Iraq, never accepted the British occupation, they preferred to rejoin Turkey as the successor of the Ottomans for religious reasons. Sheik Mahmud Hafid the head of the Soran Kurdish tribes in Suleymaniye and the sheiks of the Behdinan Kurds in Imadiye rose up against the British authorities. Suleymaniye was liberated on May 22.nd 1920, but the British response was very harsh. Emadia and Suleymaniye were bombed heavily from the air. By June 1920 Suleymaniye had fallen and sheik Mahmud was captured and sent to exile in India.

In June 1920, the Turkmen of Telafer revolted against the British, this revolution (Qach-qach revolution) spread like a wild fire to the rest of Iraq. By the end of 1920, the British suppressed the uprising and killed over 10.000 people, also, it cost them too many soldiers and officers and drained the British budget to the limit.
Britain decided to move behind the scene and create a puppet Iraqi regime controlled by them, so they brought Faisal, who was thrown out of Syria by the French, and declared him as the king of Iraq.

Turkey persists on regaining Musul:

The newly formed Turkish National Assembly declared Musul within the “National Pact” which defined the minimum limits of the “New Turkey”, and persisted on re-taking it back even if it cost another war. The Mesopotamian Army was mobilized to Mardin.

The Ozdemir Mission:

The Turkmen chiefs Nazim and Kerim Fettah begs as well as the heads of the Kurdish tribes asked Mustafa Kemal Pasha to help them organize the resistance against the British occupation.
In February 1922 Major Shefik Ozdemir was assigned by Mustafa Kemal Pasha to go to Northern Iraq to help the locals organize the resistance.
A military contingent headed by Major Shefik Ozdemir arrived in Rawanduz on June 22.nd 1922. Supported by the local Turkmen chiefs Karim Fattah Beg and Nazim Beg as well as the local Kurdish tribes, they started a guerrilla war and achieved a major victory in the battle of Derbent on August 31, 1922 (This coincides with the major victory of the Turkish army at the battle of Inonu against the Greek army in Sakarya, northwest Turkey) on September, Marshall Fevzi Chakmak, the chief of staff of the Turkish Army, cabled the commanders of the Mesopotamian Army, to get ready to take Musul back by force. On September 1922, the Ozdemir mission entered Shaklawa, east of Erbil. Towards the end of October they were able to infiltrate deep inside Iraq while the Turkish Mesopotamian army was waiting across the border, in Mardin and Cizre, ready to attack.

Turkey switches to diplomacy - The Lausanne Conference :

The victorious Turkish army was marching to regain Istanbul and the straights which were under the allied occupation. The Italians and the French were in no mood to fight the Turks, the British were left alone in the field facing the Turkish army. Under these conditions they signed up the armistice of Mudania on October 11, 1922 in which they gave back Istanbul, the straights and Eastern Thrace.
Peace conference convened in Lausanne, Switzerland on Nov. 20, 1922. Turkish claims on Musul and British counter claims were at odds. The British authorities declared on December 1922, that they will never give up Musul even if that meant another war.
The Turkish general staff ordered the army to be on alert.
Fierce arguments and disagreements between the Turks and the British regarding the Musul issue, resulted in excluding it from the agenda of the conference, and it was left to be dealt with in between the two governments.

Loosing The Kurdish Support :

Up till now, the Kurdish tribes in northern Iraq were supporting Turkey for religious reasons. But later, some changes in the nature of the Turkish state had resulted in negative effects on the Kurdish tribes.
In November, 1, 1922, the Turkish parliament terminated the Ottoman Sultanate and stripped the Sultan of his title and expelled him from Turkey. along with the rest of the members of the Ottoman dynasty, stripping them from the Turkish citizenship.

The termination of the Ottoman empire was used extensively by British agents to put a rift between the Kurdish tribes and Turkey. Traditionally the Kurds were loyal to the Ottoman Empire, whereas The British were agitating the Kurds against Turkey. Naturally, this situation affected the Ozdemir mission, and the Kurdish support was lost to the other side.

The Termination of the Ozdemir Mission :

On April 1923, the British, with the support of some Kurdish tribes headed by Seyyid Taha, attacked the Ozdemir forces, stationed in Rawanduz, from two directions, they cut his supply route from Hakkari, and without any support from the awaiting Turkish army in Cizre-Mardin, he had no choice but to abandon his positions and entered Iran on April 23, 1923, reaching Van, Turkey, on May 10, 1923, thus ending a mission that had a great chance of success.

The Assyrian Rebellion:

While the diplomatic efforts were going on, Britain was using the principle of “the best defense is offence” to further discourage the Turks from any effective action to regain Musul. New British intelligence agitations led the Assyrians, who were allied with Britain, to commit a massacre in Kerkuk on May 1924 against the Turkmen who were naturally allied with Turkey, hundreds of civilians were killed.
Also in Turkey, the Assyrians rebelled in Hakkari on August 1924 in order to keep the Mesopotamian Army busy.
This incident in Hakkari was used by Lord Curzon during the peace conference to lay claim on Hakkari as part of the Musul province and as a sign that the local people rejected the Turkish rule.

The Kurdish Rebellion:

The British agitation among the Kurds in south eastern Turkey to react to the removal of the Caliphate and the Islamic law was successful. Sheik Said started his rebellion against the Turkish state on February 2.nd, 1925. This campaign diverted the attention of the Turkish government away from Musul, and the Mesopotamian army was used to suppress this unexpected rebellion.
Britain, of course, used this issue also against the Turks to convince the League of Nations that Turkey has no right to claim Musul where half of the population is Kurdish, while the Kurds inside Turkey were unhappy for being under Turkish control.

The end of the Musul Problem:
Turkey was exhausted with wars since 1912. Persistence on regaining Musul meant a new war with Britain which was the greatest super power at that time. Turkish economy was in ruins, therefore, Turkey wasn’t able to continue this campaign anymore.

Turkey reluctantly, signed the Ankara agreement on June 1926, Leaving Musul to Iraq, recognizing Iraq as a state and defining its borders.
Unlike similar agreements with Greece for Western Thracian Turks, with France for Iskenderun and with Russia for Nahchevan, the British did not allow Turkey to be a guarantor for the Turkmens in Iraq. They promised that all minority rights will be respected by the Iraqi state as it was mentioned in their constitution of 1925 which declared that Iraq's official languages are: Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish. Every citizen of Iraq is entitled to use his/her language in education and courts and administration where they constitute a majority.

To further appease Turkey, the British offered half a Million Sterling Pounds annually for 25 years for the lost (upcoming) oil revenues.
Since that date, Turkey officially never mentioned Musul. The Turkmens were left on their own. It was agreed that within one year from the date of signing the border agreement, people of the region were free to move to Turkey. The Turkmens, preferred to stay in their lands.


The Monarchy Era:

In 1921 referendum, the Turkmens voted against Faisal as the king of Iraq. This action alienated the monarchy against the Turkmens. The British authorities and the successive Iraqi governments always kept the Turkmens away from administration and treated them as remnants of the Turkish Empire, never wanted to use their expertise in the civil administration nor in the military, never gave them any high governmental posts except for very few instances.

Iraq applied to the League of Nations in 1932, and declared its determination to respect all minority rights. After being admitted, their policy changed in 1933 and Arabism became dominant. Turkish schools were down sized, Turkmens who were suspected of Turkism were exiled. Arab tribes such Obeidies and Hadidies were settled west of Kerkuk in the thirties and Forties.
Barzani’s Kurdish uprising started in 1949, the Iraqi army suppressed the rebellion and destroyed hundreds of Kurdish villages, moving the villagers to the major northern cities of Kerkuk, Erbil and Musul, to keep them under government control.

The Republican Era:

After the removal of monarchy in 1958, Kurds were favored and included in the constitution. Mulla Mustafa Barzani was invited frm his exile in Russia back to Iraq. He demanded the establishment of Kurdistan including Kerkuk and all Turkmen lands.
This demand alienated the Turkmens, ending good neighborly relations with the Kurds that lasted for over a millennium.

Kurdish and Communist elements committed the Kerkuk massacre on July 14th 1959, intending to ethnically cleanse the Turkmens from Kerkuk. Hundreds of Turkmens were tortured, viciously killed and mutilated.
Turkey issued a warning to Iraq and mobilized the army from Diyarbakir to the Iraqi border. In the meantime, the Soviet army was mobilized in Georgia and Armenia against any Turkish moves into Iraq.
On the third day of the Kerkuk massacre, fearing the start of a regional war. General Abdulkarim Qasim sent an army from Baghdad to Kerkuk and stopped the massacre.

General Qasim tried to appease the Turkmens by arresting the criminals who committed the massacre, allowed Turkmen broadcasting from radio Baghdad, and allowed the establishment of the Turkmen Brotherhood Club in Baghdad. For the first time in the Iraqi history he declared that the “Million Turkmens”(out of seven million Iraqis) were part of the Iraqi nation.
In the meantime, Qasim declared war on Barzani for demanding separation of Kurdistan from Iraq. Hundreds of Kurdish villages were destroyed, the villagers were transferred to the major northern cities of Kerkuk, Erbil and Musul. The district of Iskan in eastern Kerkuk was built by general Qasim for the new Kurdish settlers.

The Baath Era:

The Baath party took over in 1968 and inherited the Kurdish problem, in order to curb Kurdish demands on Kerkuk, they gave cultural rights to the Turkmens on January 24, 1970. Which included education in the Turkish language, issuing Turkish periodicals, forming cultural associations and the establishment of Kerkuk television. They also allowed the opening of a Turkish Cultural Mission in Kerkuk.

The Kurdish Autonomous region including the three northern provinces of Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimanieh was granted on March 11, 1970, to the Kurds by the Baath government. But the Kurds insisted on the inclusion of Kerkuk province, parts of Musul and Diyala provinces into their Autonomous region. They demanded a plebiscite all across the traditional Turkmen lands from Musul to Mendeli.
Tens of thousands of Kurds were settled by the KDP in Kerkuk and other Turkmen cities such as Altun Kopru, Tuz Khurmatu. The District of Azadi in eastern Kerkuk was established at that time.

Turkmens demanded political rights to establish a Turkmen political party, this was flatly rejected by the Baath Party. Disagreements between the Turkmens and the Baath Party began to surface on the issue of the Turkmen alphabet. The Baath party insisted on the use of the Arabic alphabet, whereas the Turkmens demanded the Latin alphabet which was used in Turkey. Within 2 years, Turkish schools were suspended by the Baath Party.

On October 11, 1972 and for the first time in Iraq’s history, the Turkmens started a general strike in all Turkmen areas. This action pushed the Baath Party to respond harshly. Suspecting an organized resistance, arrests, torture and killings became the regular practice of the Baath Party against the Turkmens.

Kerkuk province name was changed to Al-Tameem (Nationalization) in 1976. The area of Kerkuk province was down sized. The eastern part of Chemchemal and Qadir Kerem were given to Suleymaniye province, the central part of Tuz Khurmatu was given to Salahaddin (Tikrit) Province and the southern part of Kifri and Qara Teppe were given to Diyalah province. The Turkish Cultural Mission in Kerkuk was closed down.

The arrest and execution of the top four leaders in Baghdad on January 16, 1980, was the beginning of a total crack down on the Turkmens. The arabization of Kerkuk started on a wide scale in the Eighties. Turkmen language was banned in public and even in telephone conversations, selling properties to any Turkmen was forbidden. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs were brought from central and southern Iraq and settled in newly constructed districts around Kerkuk. In the meantime thousands of Turkmens were transferred to the southern provinces of Iraq.

Turkmens were not allowed to declare their nationality during the general census they were forced to declare themselves either Arabs or Kurds.
During the Iranian and Gulf War, the Turkmens were sent to the front lines to be eliminated. The mainly Shiite Turkmen district of Tisin in Kerkuk and the towns of Beshir, Leylan and Turkalan, south of Kerkuk, were razed to the ground under the pretext of treason and aiding the Iranians. During the Kurdish uprising of 1991, the Iraqi army massacred hundreds of Turkmen in Altun Kopru.

The Safe Haven Period:

After the establishment of the “Safe Haven Area” by the allies in northern Iraq, only %10 of the Turkmens in Erbil and Kifri were fortunate to be included in this zone.
The Turkmens enjoyed the freedom and formed their first political party, the Iraqi National Turkmen Party (INTP), which participated along with other Iraqi opposition parties to establish a democratic model for Iraq.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) although not admitting to complete Turkmen rights especially in Kerkuk, was generally in good relations with the Turkmens. Other Iraqi opposition parties while giving in to the Kurdish demands, they remained conservative towards Turkmen rights.

On April 24, 1995, The Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF)was established in Erbil from six organizations:

1- Iraqi Turkmen National Party (INTP)
2- Turkmeneli Party (TP)
3- Independents Movement
4- Turkmeneli Cooperation and Cultural Foundation
5- Iraqi Turks Cultural and Solidarity Association
6- Turkmen Brotherhood Center

The emblem of the ITF is a white crescent on a sky blue background with six stars symbolizing the six states established by the Turkmen in Iraq.
Turkmen political, social and cultural institutions were established to serve the 250.000 Turkmens of Erbil as well as the Turkmens of Kifri.

The rivalry between KDP and PUK escalated to full scale war, which led to the invitation of the Iraqi army by Massoud Barzani to defeat PUK and establish KDP control in Erbil.
The Iraqi army remained three days in Erbil, destroying the Turkmen Front buildings, executing 17 top Turkmen leaders and taking 39 others to Baghdad.

Relations with the KDP in Erbil began to deteriorate after the refusal of ITF to submit to KDP demands which were:
- Recognizing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as the legitimate government of Kurdistan which regards Turkmens as a minority. The ITF objection was based on the absence of a fair elections and the existence of two rival regional governments, one in Erbil and the other one in Suleymaniye.

- Obligation of having a permission to form a political party from KDP. The ITF objection was based on the reality that ITF is a political entity same as KDP. No party needs permission from another one to operate.

- Disbanding of the Turkmen militia. ITF refused this demand, because it didn’t trust the KDP in providing protection for ITF personnel and installations as happened in 1996, 1998 and 2000. This militia was necessary to protect ITF personnel and installations. Also, other political parties continued carrying their weapons, such as the Islamic Kurdish parties.

- Kurdish parties claimed that ITF was connected to Turkey:

Turkey is the only country in the world that supports the Turkmen cause, it is natural that Turkey supports, ITF. In fact, Turkey supported both KDP and PUK since 1991, and allowed them to enjoy their autonomy. Now they have established 5 puppet Turkmen parties to counter ITF influence and they are showing them as the legitimate Turkmen political organizations.

The main issue is the way KDP looks at the Turkmens as a small minority. They declared the Turkmen population of Erbil as 10.000 instead of 250.000. They exiled Turkmen teachers to Kurdish areas, and brought Kurdish teachers to Turkmen schools, reduced Turkish classes to one a day and imposed Kurdish on Turkmen students.
Daily Harassments on ITF personnel in the streets continued.


The Turkish parliament refused on March 01, 2003, to allow the US troops to use Turkish soil for the invasion of Iraq. However, the Turkish government allowed US to use the Turkish air space and land for logistical supplies.
This issue angered the US administration. The invasion of Iraq started n March 19th 2003, on April 10th, 2003, U.S. Ignored Turkish Red Lines against Kurds entering Kerkuk and Musul and allowed PUK to occupy Kerkuk and the rest of the Turkmen cities, also allowed KDP to occupy Musul.
After this date, the U.S. was completely bias towards the Kurds and indifferent and sometimes hostile towards the Turkmens.
They disallowed the Turkmen militia and did not allow the Turkmens to govern themselves. But, allowed Kurdish hegemony in Kerkuk and other Turkmen towns.

PUK established their de-facto Kurdish administration in Turkmen towns, disregarding the Turkmen majority, Kurds began evicting the Arabs brought by Saddam, ethnic tensions reached a height that was never seen before.

All government offices were occupied by the Kurds, Turkmens or Arabs are forced to communicate in Kurdish in order to achieve any official work. Land Registry offices were robbed of its contents to be modified in favor of the Kurds. Fake identification cards showing Kerkuk as their birth place were issued to hundreds of thousands of Kurds.

All exits to Turkmen towns and cities were controlled by Peshmergas. Kerkuk was and is still surrounded by 35.000 Peshmergas ready to enter when the ethnic cleansing starts.

On August 30 and 31st, 2003, Turkmens in Kerkuk and Tuz Khurmatu protested these chauvinistic actions through peaceful demonstrations, Peshmergas fired on them, Turkmens suffered large number of casualties. Every peaceful Turkmen protest ended in bloodshed.
The purest Turkmen city of Telafer (pop. 500.000) was reduced to rubble after 3 major attacks by the American forces which were misled by the Peshmergas, to be the center of the “foreign Terrorists”.
Major Turkmen leaders and active individuals were and are assassinated by daily car bombs in Kerkuk and surrounding areas.
Since the American occupation of Iraq in 2003, the two major demands of the Turkmens for:
a) A fair and internationally observed census and b) Disbanding the Peshmerga militias, were ignored. On the contrary, the Peshmergas were included in the new Iraqi army which was headed by a Kurd as the Chief of Staff.

Under their mercy, there were two elections in Iraq, in which results in Northern Iraq were manipulated and modified to a level that surpassed even the Soviet styles.
Election Violations were committed under the watchful eyes of the Americans the aim was to reduce Turkmen votes to a symbolic level.

Under the wide scale vote forgery, ITF managed to get only one deputy., Shiite Turkmens had no choice but to get their deputies from the Shiite list. Currently, the Turkmens have only 8 deputies among 275 which makes 3% of the population.


The Turkmens managed to preserve their existence and culture against Arab chauvinism for 85 years. But after 2003, they are facing Kurdish chauvinism and barbarism supported by the United States of America which did not fulfill it own promises of bringing justice, fairness and political honesty to Iraq. It is impossible to see the application of American values in Iraq.
Today, as a reward for their services, Massoud Barzani has been promoted to be the president of the Kurdish region and Jalal Talabani has been promoted to be the president of Iraq. Their final aim is to include Kerkuk in the Kurdish area and then declare it as the Capital of Kurdistan.
With Kerkuk's rich oil revenues they are planning for secession and declare independence from Iraq under U.S. Protection.
Currently, they are preparing to include Kerkuk in the Kurdish region through a tailored referendum at the end of 2007.

To achieve this goal they brought 350.000 Kurds from the mountains of Northern Iraq as well as from Syria, Iran and Turkey (Please see note at the end of the text). They settled some of them in the houses of the fleeing Arabs who were brought earlier during the Saddam era. The rest are waiting in their makeshift houses and slums established on the lands of the Turkmens, as well as government and public lands.

If this happens, the widest ethnic cleansing in Iraq's history will occur. Turkmens and Arabs will be either killed or flee or accept assimilation. The Turkmens of Iraq will cease to exist as a nation. This action will push Turkey, Iran and Syria to interfere militarily, U.S. Will counter attack them and the Middle Eastern War will start.


Although the victims of this occupation primarily are the Turkmens, Sunni Arabs and the Christians, but in fact, even the general Kurdish population is unhappy too. The despotic and undemocratic regimes of the feudal warlords Barzani and Talabani didn't give the Kurdish people their democratic rights and fairness. Barzani and Talabani are presidents for life and so are their dynasties after them. No Kurd has the right to challenge them in tailored elections. Their foreign bank accounts are in Billions. No Kurd has a chance of getting a job without being a member in either KDP or PUK.
Any public protest by the Kurdish public is faced with suppression and disappearance.


Despite this bleak reality there is a hope to recover.

Main Turkmen Demands:

1- Cancel Referendum: With the existing demographic changes in Kerkuk, the Turkmens and Arabs will definitely loose. This will start ethnic clashes and regional war. Therefore, the proposed 2007 referendum on Kerkuk must be nullified.

2- Disarm Peshmergas: Kurdish militias must be completely disarmed and authoritarian powers of both Kurdish parties (KDP, PUK) must be removed so that all individuals (Kurds, Turkmens, Arabs, Assyrians) can express their feelings and have the freedom of choice.

3- Reverse Demgraphic Changes: Thousands of Kurdish militias, officials and peasants brought from Erbil, Duhok and Suleymaniye as well as Turkey, Syria and Iran must be withdrawn from all Turkmen lands from Altun Kopru to Mendeli including Kerkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.

4- Turkmen Self-Determination: The Turkmens are the inhabitants of their lands for over a millennium. The Turkmens are a distinct society. They must have the right to self-determination. Their lands cannot be incorporated in either neighboring Arab or Kurdish regions.

5- Fair Census: Population Facts must be established by a fair and correct census under strict international observation.

6- Kerkuk is Turkmen: Kerkuk is a Turkmen city by origin, Kurds influxed to the city in the early seventies and after April 10, 2003. Large numbers of Arabs were placed by the Baath regime in the eighties and nineties. Therefore, the governor of Kerkuk and major administration posts should be given to the Turkmens. The 25% Kurdish residents of Kerkuk are not denied their rights. They should be given their rights proportionate to their real numbers.

7- 2 New Turkmen Provinces: Telafer and Tuz Khurmatu (including Mendeli) to be separate provinces. And the three provinces (Kerkuk, Telafer and Tuz Khurmatu) to form the Federal State of Turkmeneli.. In mixed areas such as Musul and Baquba to be jointly administered by Arabs and Turkmens. Erbil and Khanaqin should be jointly administered by Kurds and Turkmens.

8- Multicultural Iraq: Iraq should be declared a multi-cultural state with three official languages; Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish (i.e. Switzerland).

9- Turkmens a Fundamental Nationality: Turkmens should be recognized by the new Iraqi constitution as one of the 3 main nationalities of Iraq.

10- Turkish to be Official: Turkish language to be one of the official languages of Iraq and used officially in Turkmeneli Federal State.

11- Turkmen Fair Share: Turkmens should have their contingent in administrating Iraq according to their population ratio which will be declared by the general census.


Note: since Mr. Orhan Ketene wrote this article (in 2006) the two Kurdish parties have brought more Kurds from the mountains of Northern Iraq as well as from Syria, Iran and Turkey. Today, the number of 'imported Kurds' has reached over 600.000.