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الأحد، 1 مارس 2015

Iraqi Kurdistan: Arabs Displaced, Cordoned Off, Detained

Harsh Restrictions in Northern Iraq While Kurds Move Freely
FEBRUARY 26, 2015

Iraqi Kurdish forces have confined thousands of Arabs in “security zones” in areas of northern Iraqthat they have captured since August 2014 from the extremist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Kurdish forces for months barred Arabs displaced by fighting from returning to their homes in portions of Ninewa and Erbil provinces, while permitting Kurds to return to those areas and even to move into homes of Arabs who fled. Some restrictions were eased in January 2015, after Human Rights Watch communicated with the Kurdish regional government about the issue, but others remain.

Local Kurds told Human Rights Watch that Iraqi Kurdish citizens or forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have destroyed dozens of Arab homes in the areas, which the KRG appears to be seeking to incorporate into Kurdish autonomous territory. Arab residents in one cordoned-off zone said that KRG forces detained 70 local Arab men for long periods without charge.

“Cordoning off Arab residents and refusing to let them return home appears to go well beyond a reasonable security response to the ISIS threat,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The US and other countries arming the Iraqi Kurdish forces should make clear that they won’t stand for discrimination under the guise of countering terrorism.”

Human Rights Watch found no evidence of Kurdish forces imposing similar restrictions on movements of Kurds. The regional government is a key ally of the United States-led coalition fighting ISIS. The US has pledged $350 million to create three new brigades of the Kurdish military force, the Peshmerga.Germany, the UKItaly, France, the Czech Republic, and Albania also are arming or training Peshmerga forces.

Human Rights Watch raised its concerns about ethnic discrimination with KRG authorities in December and in a January 20 letter. In a statement to Human Rights Watch, the regional government denied any ethnic discrimination but pledged to investigate the Human Rights Watch findings. In January, Kurdish military and intelligence forces eased several of the restrictions.

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