Turkmen Brigades prevent several Kurdish families from reclaiming Kirkuk homes
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – For the past six years, more than 160 houses belonging to Kurdish residents of Kirkuk in the Mahaskar Khaleed neighborhood have been confiscated and given to Shiite Turkmen. The Turkmen Brigades – an Iraqi Turkmen armed group formed as part of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) – have prohibited the Kurdish families from returning to their homes.
The neighborhood of Mahaskar Khaleed has historically been ethnically Kurdish. After Oct. 16, 2017, the name of the neighborhood was changed to Badr, and many Kurds either fled or were evicted.
One of those whose house had been confiscated told Kurdistan 24 "After October 16, they came to us by force, occupied our houses, and then sold them. I own a house in the neighborhood. It has been occupied for many years, but I have not been able to return to it."
All Kurdish iconography has been erased from the neighborhood, and in an utter act of humiliation, the occupying forces have also draped the Peshmerga statue in the town square of the city with an Iraqi flag. Erected in the summer of 2017, the statue was constructed to celebrate Peshmerga's victories in the war against ISIS, only to have it later seized by the occupying PMF.
The Kurds see victory in the Iraqi provincial council elections as the only solution to end Arabization and prevent demographic change in the city.
Ahang Anwar, the candidate of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) for the Kirkuk provincial council elections, said: “We are trying to take serious legal steps to resolve any such issues through the courts.”
After Oct. 16, many Arab and Turkmen citizens from central and southern Iraq were brought to Kirkuk and settled. The process continues in various ways.
The Kurds claim they became marginalized from most administrative positions and replaced by Arabs and Turkmen, which previously represented a minority in provincial councils and elections.
As a multi-ethnic province, ownership of Kirkuk has long been disputed among Kurds, Turkmen, and Arabs.
In the 1970s, the former Ba'athist regime began a massive campaign to change the demography of the province, resettling Arabs and seizing lands owned by Kurds.
Ratified in 2005, Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution stipulates that the status of the province is to be decided by conducting a census, followed by a referendum, and an ensuing de-Arabization of the area.