ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Hashd al-Shaabi militias forcibly displaced at least 235 families suspected to have ties with the Islamic State (IS), Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Sunday.
According to officials, camp management, and three international organizations, the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, also known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), forced people who allegedly had IS relatives to go to Daquq camp in Kirkuk Province.
The human rights organization added that as these families were forcibly displaced, the PMF destroyed their homes, kidnapped their children, and looted their belongings.
“How can Iraq claim it’s turned a corner and supports reconciliation when its own forces are waging collective punishment on civilians,” Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said.
“Nothing positive can be gained from government complicity in furthering divisions in Iraqi society,” Fakih added.
A camp manager in Daquq told HRW that at least 220 families, all from villages in Hawija, had arrived at the site since early January.
The manager added that the people were brought by Iraqi forces “because they allegedly had IS-affiliated relatives.”
The victims interviewed at the camps told HRW that PMF forces rounded up the families without warning based on lists of names compiled by the Iraqi army and Shia militia troops, and were told they were being displaced “because their relatives had joined IS.”
“It is a basic international standard that punishment for crimes should only be imposed on people responsible for the crimes, after a fair trial to determine individual guilt,” the HRW stated, adding collective punishment and forced displacement is “strictly forbidden.”
The organization called on the Iraqi government to investigate these alleged war crimes and other unlawful allegations involving innocent civilians.
“Iraqi authorities forcibly displacing these families are condemning them to a bleak future of difficult economic circumstances, restricted educational opportunities, and dismal living conditions in prison camps,” Fakih warned.