Anbar Government Must Halt Forcible Deportation and Rejection of IDPs From Entry
The Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR) stated that dozens of displaced families originally from ISIS-controlled districts: Qaim, Ramadi and Fallujah, face the threat of forcible deportation from Heet disrict in Anbar province, 190 km west of Baghdad.
The monitoring network at IOHR has documented the threats to deport internally displaced people (IDPs) from Falluja and Ramadi, as well as decisions to reject those who have been displaced from areas west of Anbar.
"Article 7 (1) (d) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court criminalizes deportation of forcible transfer, and states that when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack, constitutes a crime against humanity,” said IOHR.
IOHR received a copy of a military order issued by the Al Jazira Operations Command, directed to the local councils in Heet, Haditha, and Al-Baghdadi and Barwana districts, to "prevent the reception of displaced families from ISIS-controlled areas.”
The Chairperson of Heet Local Council, Mohammed Muhannad Jassim, said in an interview with IOHR: "The decision was made to inform the families originating from the liberated areas from ISIS, to return to their areas, in agreement with the Chairperson of the Anbar Provincial Council Saadoun al-Alwani, with the decision excluding employees and those assigned public service.”
He added: "Everybody is familiar with the poor budget of Anbar province, which is almost non-existent. We try to provide services forresidents of the area, however, there are hundreds of displaced families in the center of Heet who are not in need of those services."
"The decision is not only based on an economic reasoning, but also on security reasons. The weakness of intelligence systems and the lack of security and intelligence forces in Heet is one of the reasons that led us to take the decision. The number of all members of the police forces is 60 with about 6 officers. In addition, the deportation of families of ISIS members was because of the existence of tribal conflicts in the district. Our decision to inform those families to leave for other areas was in order to protect their safety from threats of tribal revenge and fueds,” he explained.
IOHR confirms that there is no legal basis to prevent Iraqi citizens from moving between the Iraqi provinces. Article 44 of the Iraqi constitution states: “All Iraqis have freedom of movement, travel and housing inside and outside of Iraq."
Local sources in the district of Heet told IOHR: "The decision includes all IDPs from Ramadi, Fallujah, and other areas west of Anbar (Anna, Rawah and al-Qaim), and includes the deportation of the ISIS families present in the district of Heet."
Abu Ammar, a resident of Heet said: "There is a committee made up of people from district of Heet, which is widely popular, they were the ones who suggested to deport ISIS families, while the security services took over the implementation of the decision.”
Marwan, who only preferred to give his first name, is another resident of Heet. He said: "After several security breaches in Heet, the authorities discovered the involvement of some IDPs with ISIS, which led the security forces to refuse their presence."
Abu Saad, a displaced man originally from Ramadi, living in Heet said: "We have been harassed by the authorities and some of the residents of Heet for several months. We have been accused of terrorism and collaboration with ISIS, simply because one of our relatives joined the terrorist group and fought with them."
He added: "After the issuance of the deportation decision, the district's representative repeatedly informed us that we must leave for other areas. Some of the families left to the camps and most of these families include only women and children."
Abu Saad said to IOHR: "Some of the displaced people were threatened by the original Heet population, and unknown groups placed bombs in their houses to force them to leave. If we leave, where would we go?" He complained, "I do not own a house and the conditions in the camps are bad."
Abu Mohammed, a displaced man in Heet district, said in an interview with the IOHR: "My cousin had joined ISIS and was later killed in military operations. ISIS bombed my house because I refused to join them. But that wasn't enough to convince the authorities in Heet that we are victims of these events and that we are not terrorists.”
He added: "We have been accused of terrorism, and many families have been deported because of revenge attacks and the authorities’ position against us."