COMMITTEE FOR THE DEFENCE OF THE IRAQI TURKMENS’ RIGHTS
Tel: +32(0)495 44 06 29
Tel: +32(0)495 44 06 29
Subject: Violations of the Turkmens’ Human Rights in Iraq by the U.S. occupation forces and the Kurdish militias (Peshmergas and Asayish).
Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US-UK forces in March-April 2003 and especially since 10th April 2003, when the US forces authorized the Kurdish militias of Messrs. Barzani and Talabani:
- to advance far beyond their “Autonomous Region” established in the three governorates in the north-east of Iraq (Duhok, Erbil and Suleymaniya)
- to invade and occupy the other governorates of the north of Iraq (Kerkuk, Mosul, Salaheddin and Diyala) where the majority of Iraqi Turkmens live and where their region “Turkmeneli” is situated
the Turkmens have been systematically targeted by the Kurdish militias who are occupying and controlling their region.
Indeed, since then, the Turkmens are victims of human rights violation, they are marginalised in their own region, their community is discriminated, their cultural rights are denied and their language (Turkish) is not recognized as an official language in their region where the Arabic and Kurdish languages are imposed as the two official languages. They are denied their fair share of employment in the administration and they are markedly under-represented in the security forces, in the police and in the army which are almost all monopolised by the Kurds.
The Turkmens, not having armed militias of their own, are left defenceless and are living under constant threats. They are subjected to intimidations, kidnappings, ransoming, land and property grabbing, arbitrary detentions, torture, attacks and killings at the hands of armed militias. Ever since the Kurdish militias took control over ‘Turkmeneli’ on 10th April 2003 and occupied the Turkmens’ major cities and towns (Kerkuk, Telafer, Tuz Khurmatu, Altun Kopru, Dakuk, Kifri, Khanaqueen, Mendeli, etc.) they have behaved as an occupation force.
We have denounced and brought to your attention the systematic human rights abuses and atrocities committed by these militias against the Turkmens as well as against other non-Kurdish populations in the north of Iraq: Arabs, Chaldeo-Assyrians, Shabaks and Yezidis.
The Kurdish parties (KDP and PUK), in order to fulfil their hegemonic ambitions of creating a Kurdish state in the north of Iraq which would include the oil-rich governorate of Kerkuk, have used their armed militias to organize the settlement of over 600.000 Kurds from the Autonomous Kurdish Region as well as of non-Iraqi Kurds from neighbouring countries (Iran, Syria and Turkey) to change the demography and the ethnic composition of the Turkmen region in their favour. They have used their militias to rig the local and general elections to their advantage to show that they represent the majority of the population in the Turkmen region.
Thus, with the blessing of the US occupation authorities Kurds have managed to label the non-Kurdish regions of the north of Iraq inhabited mainly by Turkmens, Chaldeo-Assyrians, Yezidis and Shabaks as ‘contested territories’ , they are unjustly claiming that these territories are ‘Kurdish’ and they want to annex them to their autonomous region.
Naturally, the Turkmens reject the Kurds’ claims on their region and they refuse to be part of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. For this reason the Kurds are targeting Turkmens on a daily basis.
The most recent examples of attacks on Turkmens are today’s (3rd December 2008) deadly attacks in the Turkmen city of Telafer where a car bomb hit a local market killing seven Turkmens and injuring twenty-seven others, and this morning’s raid on a Turkmen house in Kerkuk’s neighbourhood of Hay Adden:
Today (3rd December 2008) at the crack of dawn (3:30 am), a joint American-Kurdish patrol, supposedly in search of a terrorist called Emad Abu Uday, raided the family house of late Turkmen Colonel Nadhim Suleiman.
The raiding force, composed of fifteen US soldiers accompanied by one translator (in four Humvees) and ten Kurdish security force members ‘Asayish’ wearing uniforms with the Kurdish flag on their chest and sleeves (in two four-wheel drive JMCs), broke the door and penetrated into the house, terrorizing all its occupants by firing shots outside and inside the house. They completely searched and ransacked the house and did not find a single bullet. Then they checked the IDs of all the persons living in the house: the widow and the two sons of late Colonel Nadhim Suleiman (Zakeriya Nadhim Sulaiman, aged twenty-nine and Nabil Nadhim Suleiman, aged thirty-four) and their wives and young children.
Despite the fact that they did not find the individual they were supposedly looking for they arrested both brothers, they put sacks over their heads, handcuffed them and took them away.
The Kurdish Asayish then took photos of the whole family and although there were no female members with them they forced the women to take off their hijabs and they searched them. They even took off the clothes of the two small children (a four year-old boy and a three-year old girl). They stole the family’s savings (around 20 million Iraqi Dinars), the women’s gold jewellery and all the personal documents belonging to the family.
The above are just two examples among the innumerable violations of human rights which are committed against the Turkmens in Iraq by the Kurds.
Several hundreds of innocent Turkmens who were arbitrarily arrested by the Kurdish Asayish are imprisoned somewhere in the Kurdish autonomous region. Most of these unfortunate detainees have been locked up for years, they are ill-treated and in most cases their families do not even know where they are imprisoned. The unjustified arrests and imprisonment of these innocent civilians who are often the sole breadwinners of their families have very serious consequences for their wives and children who are struggling to survive.
We, Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights, are appalled by the continued violations of human rights by the Kurdish militias and by the U.S. military in Iraq and we strongly denounce their exactions against the unarmed and innocent Turkmens.
The international community can no longer remain indifferent to the fact that Turkmens, Chaldeo-Assyrians, Yezidis and Shabaks are the victims of Kurdish militia’s terror in the north of Iraq.
We ask the European Union, the Human Rights Organizations and all members of international organizations not to remain silent about the human rights abuses by the Kurds against the non-Kurdish communities in the north of Iraq.
We call upon them to intervene without delay and urge them to put pressure on Messrs. Talabani and Barzani and demand that they stop these abuses and release all the innocent Turkmens who are detained in the Kurdish controlled jails in the north of Iraq.
Dr. Hassan AYDINLI
Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights.
Brussels, 3rd December 2008.