Yezidi protests in IDP camps demand implementation of Erbil-Baghdad agreement on Sinjar

“We cannot secure our future under the rule of outside [armed] groups,” said one protester calling for the expulsion of Hashd al-Shaabi militias and PKK fighters from Shingal.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Internally displaced persons from Sinjar (Shingal) held a protest in Kurdistan’s Duhok province on Sunday, demanding the speedy implementation of the Erbil-Baghdad agreement aiming to restore stability to Shingal.

The protests took place in the Sharia, Chamanke, and Sheikhan IDP camps located in rural parts of Duhok.

“We support handing over the Shingal administration to its original inhabitants,” read one of the banners demonstrators held. “We demand the militias leave the district and the facilitation of the return of the displaced.”

Early October, the federal Iraqi government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil announced that they had reached an agreement on a new security plan in Sinjar, with announcements making particular mention of the need to reign in competing armed groups.

Read More: KRG and Baghdad reach administrative, security agreement on Sinjar 

The demonstrators called on the KRG, the Iraqi government, and the United Nations to accelerate the agreement’s implementation to normalize the situation in Sinjar.

One protester told Kurdistan 24 that “their condition in the camps is worsening day after day,” adding that they cannot currently return to Shingal under current security condition and amid lack of adequate public services.

The demonstrations also called for preventing the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) from recruiting underage Yezidis for their cause.

Another protester said, “we want the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Kurdistan Workers Party to leave; we cannot secure our future under the rule of outside [armed] groups.”

One banner claimed the PKK “kidnaps” minors by to enlist them in their ranks, adding further that these acts are “in violation of international laws.” Another asserted that the group and the Islamic State imprison locals.

Protesters holding banners asking PKK to stop the kidnapping minors and youths from Shingal, Nov. 8, 2020. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
Protesters holding banners asking PKK to stop the kidnapping minors and youths from Shingal, Nov. 8, 2020. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

Aside from its headquarters in the Kurdistan Region’s Qandil mountains, the PKK also has an active if controversial presence in the district of Shingal. Tensions have recently grown between the KRG and the PKK, following recent attacks on Kurdish Peshmerga and infrastructure attributed to the armed group.

According to the Erbil-Baghdad agreement, militant groups such as PKK and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militias will be required to withdraw from the area, but both groups have often ignored such orders and maintained a strong presence anyway.

The deal also stipulates that an official local force, consisting of 2,500 Ezidi affiliates, will be formed, and both sides will work for the return of the displaced and the rebuilding of Shingal.

The United Nations, the United States, Britain, Egypt, Jordan, France, and other countries have welcomed the agreement between the Baghdad and Erbil governments.

Shingal is an area disputed between Erbil and Baghdad and needs over ten billion dollars to rehabilitate its infrastructure, according to initial assessments by the federal government and the UN.

The funds would rebuild what was destroyed by the so-called Islamic State and the battles for its liberation in late 2015 by the Peshmerga. In late 2017, the Iraqi forces and PMF groups took control of the area following the Kurdistan referendum.

Since then, the situation has remained precarious, with a majority of displaced Yezidis unable to return.

Editing by Khrush Najari