ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi militants from Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias (PMF) and Iraqi federal police have recently arrested and tortured a group of Peshmerga and Arab civilians in the disputed province of Kirkuk, an official said on Wednesday.
“Two days ago, the Hashd al-Shaabi and Federal Police arrested fourteen individuals in Kirkuk’s Daquq District, ten of whom were Kurds and the rest Arabs,” began Mohammed Kamal, head of the Brotherhood bloc in Kirkuk Provincial Council (KPC), when speaking to the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) official website. He further claimed that all the Kurdish detainees are Peshmerga fighters.
“Under abuse,” Kamal went on, “[the detainees] have been forced to admit to crimes they have not committed,” he continued. “When they were taken to Kirkuk’s Criminal Court, they undressed and showed the investigation judge their scars of the brutal treatment they had received in jail.”
Such practices by Iraqi security forces, including forced confessions under torture, have been regularly and routinely documented by human rights groups and UN agencies since Iraq's present government came into power.
“Five of the Kurds are [members of the] KDP and the others from the PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan],” he continued, and added “they are currently in captivity and,” he asserted, “are still being tortured.”
Reports continue to point to the ill-treatment received by locals, especially Kurds and Sunni Arabs, by the current government and militia forces that took over the province on Oct. 16. The Iraqi military operation was a response to the Kurdistan Region's controversial independence referendum and ended with the ouster of the Peshmerga.
Others say they fear losing property given back to them after the fall of the Baathist Regime in 2003 when many Arabs left homes they were given or displaced to by the former regime in the Arabization it implemented in the 1980s. Those that previously lived on such property continue to bring lawsuits, demanding it be handed over to them.
Editing by John J. Catherine