Kirkuk residents and IDPs face deportation by Kurdish Security Forces
26 October 2016
Local authorities in Kirkuk have forcibly deported internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Arab origins and residents of some Arab villages in the province of Kirkuk. These operations started shortly after the city of Kirkuk was attacked by so-called ‘Islamic State’ forces on Friday, 21 October 2016.
According to local sources, Kurdish forces believed to belong to ‘Asayish’ security forces informed IDPs in some villages to leave the province within days.
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights was bewildered by the local authorities’ denial of the implications of forcible transfer within the province, despite the presence of several documented cases and live witness accounts that are testament to these violations.
Burhan Mzhir al-Asi, leader of the Arab Coalition in the Kirkuk Provincial Council, stated in an interview with the IOHR: “Unidentified forces are calling for the deportation of displaced individuals from the Eastern and Western parts of the province, as a result of the ISIS-led attack on Friday, despite orders issued by Kirkuk Mayor Najmaldeen Karim to leave IDPs unharmed.”
However, Najmaldeen Kareem justified these actions, stating, “These occurences are likely to be individual actions committed by unidentified members. They will be punished and held accountable for their actions. We will not accept any action that strays from administrative orders.”
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights interviewed Hussein Ahmad (33 years), who was displaced from Talafar to Kirkuk. Ahmad stated, “The head of Sakanian area, visited me in my house accompanied by armed members of the Kurdish security forces, and asked me and my family to leave the city within one day.” He added: “After I was informed of this decision, I was forced to leave with my family to Sulaymaniya. There were nine other families who left with us. The Kurdish security forces treated us badly and were verbally abusive.”
As for Ashraf Qadhy Oglo (44 years), also displaced from Talafar district, stated, “Kurdish security forces informed us several times to leave the city. I have four children in school and I pay my rent. If I leave, I would have to start all over again, and it would have a large financial and psychological impact on my family.”
An officer in the Kurdish security forces who refused to identify himself, stated to the IOHR, “the presence of displaced individuals inside Kirkuk poses a threat to the province’s security. The purpose behind the decision to deport them is to transfer them to the camps to better guarantee their rights.”
Families who were displaced from Salahaldin, Anbar, and Nineweh provinces, who live in the areas of Shuqaq Saddam, Tes’een, Ruheimawa, Shorjah, Al Askary, Al Nasr, Al Asra, and Wahid Huzeyran, were all told to leave the city.
A UN mission employee stated in an interview with the IOHR, “The forcible transfer operations in Kirkuk is also targeting the residents of the Province, and not just displaced individuals. There are similar deportation campaigns against the residents of Botan and Qosh Qaya villages.”
He added, “The deportation includes families, including men, women, and children, and is not only targeting young people. Between 10 and 20 families have been transferred to Daqouq IDP camp, where 6 displaced individuals were held in detention.”
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR) demands that the Federal Iraqi Authorites, in addition to the local authorities in Kirkuk, to abide by the principles of human rights and those in the Constitution of Iraq.
The IOHR calls for an end to such provocations against displaced individuals, which are carried out by elements implementing forced displacement policies against the residents and IDPs in Kirkuk.
The IOHR warns of the grave implications of the demographic change policy being implemented by Kurdish authorities based on ethnic origin, and calls on the local Provincial government and Kurdish political leaders to intervene to stop the deportations.
The IOHR stresses on the necessity for the Iraqi Government to work diligently to facilitate the return of internally displaced individuals to their homes and cities once they are liberated.