Launch of "Between the Millstones: Iraq's Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul"A report of a consortium of NGOs
(Minority Rights Group, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization, No Peace Without Justice and Institute for International Law and Human Rights).
Brussels, 27th February 2015.
Since June 2014, the rapid spread of ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham) forces across northern Iraq has triggered a wave of displacement, with more than 2 million people uprooted. Ethnic and religious minorities have been particularly targeted, including Turkmens, Christians, Yezidis, Kaka'is, and Shabaks, with thousands killed and many more injured or abducted.
Alison Smith, NPWJ; Johanna Green, UNPO; Mays Al-Juboori, MRG; William Spencer, HLHR
William Spencer, Institute for International Law and Human Rights and
Dr Hassan Aydinli, Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) EU Representative
Marino Busdachin, General Secretary of UNPO and
Dr Hassan Aydinli, Iraqi Turkmen Front EU Representative.
Minority communities in Iraq have been targeted by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in a systematic strategy to remove them permanently from large areas of Iraq, warns a group of human rights organizations in their new report.
"Between the Millstones: Iraq's Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul" provides critical information on the legal basis for war crimes prosecutions.
According to the report, the Iraqi government lacks a legal framework to address the rights and entitlements of the displaced people, it should clarify its role and responsibilities.
The Iraqi government and the Kurdish Regional Government should investigate and prosecute corruption in the delivery and acquisition of humanitarian aid and make sure that humanitarian aid is fairly divided among the displaced people.
The Iraqi government should provide urgent assistance to the humanitarian effort and resettle minorities who have been displaced.
Summary executions, forced conversion, rape, sexual enslavement, the destruction of places of worship, the abduction of children, the looting of property and other severe human rights abuses and crimes under international law have been committed repeatedly by ISIS. While minorities have long been vulnerable to attacks by extremists, this violence appears to be part of a systematic strategy to remove these communities permanently from areas where they have lived for centuries.
For these groups to have a future in the country, Iraqi and Kurdish authorities, the international community and other stakeholders must work together not only to ensure their immediate security, but also take steps through comprehensive legal and social reform to bring an end to their long-standing marginalization and prevent further abuses.
All IDPs are suffering especially minority women.
Regarding the TURKMENS, the report states that prior to June 2014, Turkmens were intimidated by Kurdish and Central government authorities, as well as by extra-judicial militias, on religious and ethnic grounds as well as for the presence in the 'disputed territories'. More recently, Shi'a Turkmens have been summarily executed by ISIS fighters.
The reports also states that Iraq's Turkmen community has strong support from Turkmen diaspora organizations such as the Europe-Turkmen Friendships and other groups.
Concerning TURKMEN SITES, the report says:
As ISIS forces swept through Tal Afar and the surrounding areas in June and July 2014, numerous Turkmen mosques, shrines and religious and cultural sites were destroyed or desecrated, including Shi'a mosques in the villages of hardaghli, Brauchli and Qaranaz, all of which until recently had a large Turkmen population. ISIS forces also destroyed the shrine of Arnaour and the Shi'a mosques of Husseiniyh al-Qubba, Husseiniyh Jawad, Husseiniyh Kaddo, Husseiniyh Muslim Bin-Aqeel and Husseiniyh Askar-Mullah in Tal Afar. The largest and oldest library in the Tal Afar district was also blown up - a huge blow to the Turkmen population. Another library in the Diyala governorate, with some 1,500 Islamic historical texts and stories, was reportedly burnt to the ground by ISIS forces.
In Mosul the tomb of Ibn al-Athir was destroyed, and the shrine of Imam al-Abbas in al-Qubba village and three Shi'a mosquess were set ablaze by ISIS militants in the village of Al-Sharikhan. ISIS forces reportedly used bulldozers in the Turkmnn town of al-Mahlabia to destroy the shrines of Sheikh Ibrahim and the shrine and tomb of the Sufi Sheikh Ahmed Rifa'i.
Shi'a mosques and other sites of religious significance were reportedly set on fire by ISIS forces in the Turkmen towns of Qubba and Qubbek, in Tal Afar district.
Several important Sunni shrines were also reportedly destroyed in Mosul and Kirkuk, including the shrine of Sufi Salih, in addition to some Kaka'i shrines. Two Shi'a shrines in Sinjar - Sayida Zainab and Saiyed Zakariya - were also destroyed, as well as the Shi'a holy shrine of Imam Ridha in Tiskhrab village.
In the Tukmen village of Chardaghli, a Sunni mosque was destroyed along with three Shi'a mosques. In the Turkmen village of Staeh, Sunni and Shi'a mosques as well as Yezidi religious shrines were destroyed.
The report also mentions the Denial of Entry issue that minority communities have experienced from certain areas of Iraq, particularly by Kurdish forces. The KRG has been criticized by numerous human rights activists for applying discriminatory rules based on ethnicity and religion, with Assyrians, Kurds and Yezidis typically being permitted to enter the Iraqi Kurdish region, while Iraqi Turkmen and Shi'a and Sunni Arabs have been denied access.
Regarding Employment and Education, the report states that though children have the right to be educate in their mother tongue under the Iraqi Constitution of 2005, this has not been respected.
In the Iraqi Kurdish Region minority groups are pressured to be educated in Kurdish and fincancial incentives are used to promote the language. Provision of education in the children's native tongue is also under-resourced in Iraq: many Turkmen communities, for example, have struggled to access education in their own language.
On the Sexual and gender-base violence, the report says:
There have been numerous reports of sexual abuse, rape, abductions, enslavement and other violations of a sexual nature perpetrated by ISIS militants on women and children across Iraq.
In many cases, sexual violence has been used as a tool of terror and coercion. In one incident on 12-13 June 2014, ISIS forces reportedly raped and killed at least nine women and girls as young as 12 years old in the Turkmen town of BESHIR. The bodies of the women were then stripped naked and hung from lamp posts and water tanks around the town.
The report also says that some Turkmen and Yezidi children left by ISIS forces in an orphanage in Mosul showed signs of being physically and sexually assaulted.
While Yezidi women have been especially targeted, at least several hundred Shi'a women, mostly Turkmen, have also been kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery by ISIS, as well as Christian women.
Finally the report makes several recommendations to the Federal Government of Iraq, to the Kurdish Regional Government and to the International Community, to prevent further abuses and for the Restoration and Reconciliation.