Kurdish protesters claim hiring practices in Kirkuk are ethnically-motivated
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Dozens of Kurdish university graduates demonstrated in front of the Education Directorate in Kirkuk on Thursday to protest what they see as intentionally disproportionate representation among those the public sector has recently hired in the ethnically-diverse province.
Some demonstrators pelted raw eggs at the directorate building as members of a security force unit stationed at the main gate prevented them from entering the compound. Kurdistan 24 was at the site where protesters voiced their anger at the local administration and symbolically stepped on posters of the head of the education authority.
Participants in the crowd claimed that the Education Directorate had shown in practice that it is ethnically biased against Kurds in its hiring of university graduates. They called for increasing the percentage of Kurds employed by the local government to be a representative sampling of the ethnic makeup of Kirkuk.
While exact statistics on the population of Kirkuk is unclear, Kurds are thought to be a majority of the population, with unofficial estimates showing that they make up about 52 percent. The rest are Arabs, Turkmen, and various minority communities.
An informed source told Kurdistan 24 that above 50 percent of the job postings available in Kirkuk had been reserved for Arabs, while Kurds only been allowed fewer than 20 percent of the positions.
“I graduated from university in 2013, and I applied for many positions, but have not been accepted,” one of the protesters told Kurdistan 24.
“There is great injustice… the Kurdish people have been marginalized,” he added, claiming that the situation only became tense after security forces blocked any and all constituents from entering the directorate building to air their grievances.
Following the late 2017 assault of Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias on Kirkuk province, Baghdad appointed its own bureaucrat to head the local government, notably installing controversial figure Rakan Saeed as provincial governor.
Since then, local Kurds have repeatedly accused the administration of carrying out a systematic campaign to remove members of the ethnic minority from government posts and replace them with officials from the local Arab and Turkmen communities.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal Iraqi government have been working to normalize the security and political situations in the province as well as other disputed territories, but progress has slacked due to anti-government protests in central and southern parts of the country.
“The biggest problem here is that a chauvinist mindset rules this city,” another protester said.
Editing by John J. Catherine
Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 correspondent in Kirkuk Soran Kamaran