Hashd al-Shaabi sexually harass Christians in Nineveh Plain: Christian MP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The head of the Warka bloc in the Iraqi Parliament Joseph Silewa on Thursday accused the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militia members of attacking residents, including sexually assaults, in Nineveh Province, northern Iraq.
Silewa told local Iraqi radio that Christians in the town of Qaraqosh in Nineveh Province were subjected to sexual harassment and assault by the Shia militias who have been stationed in the area following the liberation of the town by the end of October in 2016 from the Islamic State (IS).
Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida and al-Hamdaniya, is an Assyrian town located 32 km southeast of Mosul city. It was occupied by the IS in the mid-2014 and liberated on Oct. 2016.
Silewa called on the Iraqi government to punish the aggressors and asked the PMF to remove those members whose crimes are “worse that IS” from their forces.
Karim Nouri, a commander of PMF, asked for evidence regarding the accusations against the 30th Brigade of the militia group.
A woman from Qaraqosh who was asked to remain anonymous told the local radio that Christians were afraid of leaving their houses, fearing harassment by the Shia militia group in general and the 30th brigade in particular.
The judiciary has already considered some cases of sexual misconduct against the Christians by the PMF along the seizure of land in Nineveh Plain, said Yousuf Yacoub, a citizen from the area.
The number of Christians in Iraq has largely decreased since 2003. Following the instability in the country, many of them moved abroad.
After the emergence of the IS in northern Iraq, they were displaced to the Kurdistan Region, and others migrated to Europe.
Kurdistan Region is home to an estimated 300,000 Christians, Director-General of Christians’ affairs in the region Khalid Jamal Talia previously told Kurdistan 24.
Talia also confirmed Silewa’s accusation of Hashd al-Shaabi, stating the harassment and abuses by the militia groups in the area started since the liberation of the town.
He also mentioned that Christian authorities have been informed and are aware of the harassment in the area.
Editing by Sam A.