The UNPO and Minority Rights Group International organized a side event during the 23rd Session of UNHRC at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on 6th June 2013 to raise awareness about the human rights situation of the Iraqi Turkmens.
At this side event ITF EU representative Dr Hassan Aydinli raised the Unresolved Property Rights Issue of the Iraqi Turkmens who were evicted from their properties and agricultural lands under the Arabization policy of the Baath regime over 30 years ago and who - despite the regime change in Iraq 10 years ago - are still waiting to recuperate their confiscated properties and agricultural lands and receive fair compensation for their loss of income.
Being himself a victim of land grabbing, he cited the case of his village, the Turkmen village of Bashir (Beşir in Turkish), which is situated some 40 km south west of Kerkuk city centre, as it represents a perfect Case Study of the consequences of the former regime’s policies, and also because he has all the official documents and deeds proving that the Turkmen inhabitants of Bashir were the rightful owners of the lands in and around the village. Indeed, his tribe had settled in Bashir many centuries ago, the Turkmen village of Bashir and the number of its households (89) was mentioned for the first time in 1556 in the Land Registry, under Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. These records are kept in Ankara in the archives of the Republic of Turkey.
Dr. Hassan Aydinli spoke extensively on the problem of property and land confiscation from the Turkmens in Iraq. He described the inadmissible conditions imposed on the Turkmens in Iraq since 1921 and the intolerable human rights violations committed against them during decades under the Baath regime.
Taking the subject of land grabbing and property confiscation from the Turkmens as an example of their human rights violations in Iraq, he showed secret official Iraqi documents proving these confiscations and he also showed the deeds of the properties and of the agricultural lands belonging to his family in Beşir which were confiscated by the Baath regime in 1984 and which remain confiscated, despite all his efforts with the new regime since 2003 to recuperate them.
Dr Aydinli underlined the fact that Turkmens did not receive any compensation from the Iraqi government for the loss of their properties during the last three decades up to now, even though the Iraqi government, according to Prime Minister Mr Al-Maliki, has already spent more than one billon USD for the compensation of victims of property and land confiscations under the Baath regime. This shows that the Turkmens continue to be discriminated in Iraq even though they are recognised victims of a well defined agressor: the Baath regime.
Dr. Aydinli also mentioned the fact that the Iraqi central government had decided, on 30th March 2006, to rebuild the village of Beşir which had been razed to the ground by the Baath regime in 1987 and that it had allocated a budget of 43 Billon Iraqi Dinars (equivalent of +/- 36 million USD) for rebuilding Beşir. Unfortunately, the local government in Kirkuk did not cooperate with the central government in Baghdad regarding the realisation of the project in Beşir, on the contrary, it complicated the situation even further with futile bureaucratic decisions which prevented the realization of the project and nothing has been built in Beşir by the Iraqi government since then. This is another example of neglect of Turkmens' interests by the local authorities in Kirkuk which are dominated by the Kurds since 10th April 2003.
Three delegates from Iraq attended the side event, two members of Iraq’s High Commission for Human Rights, Dr Sallama H. Al-Khazraji and Mr Masrur Aswed and the Adviser to Prime Minister Nuri-Al Maliki Sheikh Fatih Kashif Al-Ghitaa, they were in Geneva to attend the 23rd Session of UNHRC. Dr. Aydinli discussed the Turkmens’ Plight with them in detail and they promised to pass his message to Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.