Kurdish MP calls on UN to put an end to human rights violations in Kirkuk

Hoshyar Abdullah, a Kurdish lawmaker for Gorran (Change) in the Iraqi Parliament, in a statement denounced parties – which he did not name – trying to “disrupt the demographic composition of Kirkuk”

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish lawmaker on Friday called on the UN to form a fact-finding commission to investigate the resumption of campaigns to force demographic changes in Kirkuk and warned of the risks of not addressing tensions over the disputed territory.

Kirkuk has witnessed widespread human rights violations, and abuses against Kurds since Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias took over the multi-ethnic and religious province on Oct. 16 in retaliation to the Sep. 25 referendum on independence for the Kurdistan Region. The vote, despite opposition from Baghdad, was held in disputed areas and saw an overwhelming majority support secession from Iraq.

In the aftermath of the Oct.16 attack, over 180,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been displaced from Kirkuk and other disputed cities and been the targets of arsons, lootings, and threats.

Hoshyar Abdullah, a Kurdish lawmaker for Gorran (Change) in the Iraqi Parliament, in a statement denounced parties – which he did not name – trying to “disrupt the demographic composition of Kirkuk” through the forced displacement of Kurds, and warned of Arabization campaigns currently taking place in the province.

“There are ongoing attacks, violations, and harassment of Kurdish families, forcing them to abandon their homes and move to other areas to accommodate Arab families. The government has remained silent, and security forces have not intervened,” Abdullah said.

“Kurds will not remain silent concerning these crimes, which violate our laws and constitution,” the Member of Parliament continued. “We hope that the situation will not deteriorate any further.”

Since the Oct. 16 attack and takeover by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia, Kirkuk has witnessed a drastic rise in violent incidents and insecurity and instability.

The Kurdish MP called on the Federal Government of Iraq, political parties, and international organizations to “urgently intervene and put an end to these inhumane practices.”

He also called on the UN to send a “fact-finding” group to “investigate and collect information” on the Kurdish villages being targeted by the new campaigns of forced displacements.

Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani on Thursday called on his Iraqi counterpart to investigate abuses against Kurds in Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.

Prime Minister Barzani expressed concerns regarding reports of the forced displacement of Kurds in Kirkuk as well as an Arabization process reminiscent of practices by the former Iraqi dictatorship.

“We are concerned about the resumption of the Arabization campaign of Kurdish areas in Kirkuk,” he said. “This policy will lead to instability in the region.”

On Wednesday, another Kurdish Member of Parliament in Baghdad said Iraqi authorities had overseen the newly-implemented process of Arabization in Kurdish-populated villages, with some villagers reportedly given a 72-hour deadline to leave their homes.

The former Ba’ath regime under Saddam Hussein’s rule had implemented Arabization campaigns in Kirkuk Province and other Kurdish-populated areas in Nineveh, Salahadin, and Diyala.

The campaigns were meant to change the demography of the areas by forcibly displacing the Kurdish residents and replacing them with Arabs from central and southern Iraq.

Baghdad has quietly sanctioned what Head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council Rebwar Talabani described as the ‘Shia-ization’ of Kirkuk by the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias.

Kirkuk is one of the most diverse provinces in the country and is made up of Turkmen, Arabs, Christians, and a Kurdish majority.

The province is a disputed territory which has undergone several Arabization processes throughout history with the aim of changing its demographics.