The murder of a prominent Iraqi journalist at a Baghdad checkpoint has heightened fears of ethnic tensions in the country, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

March 27, 2014 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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A killing argument

 

The murder of a prominent Iraqi journalist at a Baghdad checkpoint has heightened fears of ethnic tensions in the country, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad

 

A killing argument
The funeral of Al-Shimmari, professor of media studies and Baghdad bureau chief, who was shot dead this week

Last Saturday, a presidential guard shot dead a senior Iraqi journalist during an argument in Baghdad and then fled, briefly sparking a standoff in which Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki demanded that he be handed over to the authorities.

According to official statements, Mohamed Bdaiwi Al-Shimmari, a professor of media studies at the Al-Mustansiriya University and Baghdad bureau chief of Radio Free Iraq, was shot dead close to a checkpoint that leads to the presidential complex in the upscale Jadriyah neighbourhood of the capital, an area where high-ranking members of the former Saddam regime used to live.

The reports said that Al-Shimmari had been on his way to his bureau inside the compound when the incident happened. He was stopped by the security forces despite wearing his badge, but why there was an argument and why he was shot dead is not known.

An eyewitness said in a TV interview that Al-Shimmari had been stopped and “one of the presidential guards put a pistol against his head and shot him in cold blood.” A journalist at Radio Free Iraq, who declined to be identified, was quoted as saying that “the peshmerga captain killed him after he stopped him from getting into the compound.”

As soon as the news of the killing was made public, hundreds of Al-Shimmari’s colleagues, friends, and students, many of them senior journalists or senior officials in the Iraqi government, came to the scene of the crime to pay their respects to the dead man.

The family of the victim refused to evacuate the dead body of the victim unless the killer was arrested first. Hundreds of Iraqis began publishing photographs of the victim lying in the street in the midst of blood on Facebook and Twitter, many of them demanding the arrest of his killer and that he be sentenced to death.

The dead body remained at the scene for five hours, and then it was announced that First Lieutenant Ahmed Ibrahim, believed to be the killer, had been arrested. By sunset, dozens of journalists were at the scene bearing candles.

Hadi Maree Jalou of the Iraqi Journalism Observatory, an NGO, said in an interview with Al-Fayhaa TV that “the peshmerga should leave Baghdad, and the Kurds in Baghdad should be dealt with in the same way the Kurds deal with the Arabs in Erbil.”

“Iraqi Arabs cannot enter Erbil without having an official permit from the checkpoint linked to the regional police and cannot live in Erbil without an official residential permit, while the Kurds are free to enter Baghdad and live there.”

However, despite such comments many Iraqis have refused to see the crime as a confrontation between Arabs and Kurds, though slogans appeared on the cement barriers at the scene saying “down with the Kurds.” Some have demanded that the killer should be sentenced according to Article 4 of the relevant law that deals with terrorists.

The Peshmerga Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying that the accused officer was not from the peshmerga, but was affiliated to the Federal Defence Ministry. Many Kurdish officials, while condemning the incident, have asked that it should not be used against the Kurds because it was a personal act and the accused has been taken into custody in Baghdad.

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, learned with shock and dismay about the murder. “I strongly condemn this despicable crime and extend my condolences to the bereaved family of the victim, the media and the academic community and to the colleagues and friends of Mr Bdaiwi,” Mladenov said.

“The Iraqi authorities have reacted swiftly to obtain the surrender of the culprit. It is now up to the judiciary to prosecute him and to hold him accountable before the law,” he added, calling on the government “to do all it can to ensure that security forces personnel strictly abide by their rules of engagement for the protection of civilians, so that such tragic events do not happen in the future.”

“Circumstantial evidence indicates a random killing. However, this tragedy again highlights the vulnerability of people performing their duties in the media profession under the deteriorating security conditions of Iraq,” Mladenov said.

Journalists who returned to the scene of the crime after the funeral of Al-Shimmari demanded that the government take steps towards protecting them since more than 360 Iraqi journalists have been killed in the country since April 2003.

The well-known Iraqi novelist Warid Badr Al-Salim said that “our friend Mohamed was killed by a presidential guard of an unexciting president,” recalling the chaos that had reigned in the country after the US-led invasion in 2003 and establishing the power-sharing system that was responsible for the ongoing violence.

 

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/News/5785/19/A-killing-argument.aspx

 

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In Baghdad, Iraqis spoke to Nermeen Al-Mufti of life under occupation

March 23, 2014 at 11:23 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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In 2006, March, no. 787 from Al-Ahram Weekly, devoted a special dossier on Iraq newspaper, under the headline “Iraq. Years of torment. 2003-2006
 

‘Can you help me not miss them?’

In Baghdad, Iraqis spoke to Nermeen Al-Mufti of life under occupation

Click to view caption
FACES OF THE FALLEN: Iraqis continue to mourn civilan victims as the body of Farid Hussein is carried for burial. Hussein, and three others, were killed in a bomb blast on Monday. Such a scene has come to dominate the Iraqi street during the past three years; Sinan Abdul-Aziz; Saleh Shibani; Shaymaa; Jaafar


The journalist

Saleh Al-Shibani,
Editor of the weekly newspaper Al-Qalaa

“We are all liable to being killed by mistake or by a suicide bombing. We are all targeted, from university professors to garbage collectors, including hairdressers, journalists, doctors — all Iraqis. I heard from a soldier friend that you cannot hear the sound of the bullet that kills you. As a result, every time I hear the sound of a bullet I praise God for my life. I would not make the heroic claim that I’m not afraid. It’s fear that taught me to be cautious. I routinely change the times at which I leave the house to the office and vice versa, as well as the route I take. I fell silent in the wake of the occupation but, finding that futile, I went back to writing a few months ago. I speak for my conscience and for Iraq. And to my mind targeting journalists is first and foremost part of a campaign to terrorise Iraqis — because journalists, being objective, tell the bitter truth; there are always parties who want to put an end to that. The claim is made that, among the virtues of the “new” Iraq is the plurality of voices as evident in the large number of newspapers on offer.

The truth is that the newspaper scene is in chaos; and however many there are of them, very few newspapers can be called professional at all. Every party, every party leader, basically everyone who can afford it has launched a newspaper. And each newspaper speaks for the entity it represents, makes a claim to the truth, assuming the right not only to criticise but to insult its adversaries; this is particularly easy in the light of the legal void. Democracy means constructive criticism and the ability to listen to another; in Iraq any other voice will set off an endless string of problems. The assassination a few days ago of our colleague Muhsin Khadir, editor-in-chief of the magazine Alif-Baa, raised only a few journalistic voices; this is the case given that, since the beginning of the occupation, 49 journalists have been killed. In the absence of security to protect Iraqis, working conditions are difficult. We live only by the grace of God. Before the occupation I used to work for Al-Jumhouriya newspaper, and despite the despicable dictatorial regime, I feel that publishing what I wanted to say was then easier than it is now. Every politician and leader wants you to write about him; everyone blames you because you have ignored their achievements. My question is, ‘how does the destruction of the country, its values and sense of unity amount to an achievement?’ My wife too was also a journalist before the occupation; now, for many reasons, she has become a housewife: she does not like to leave the side of our two sons, nor does she feel safe with the house unattended for a second ”

The professor

Sinan Abdul-Aziz,
Professor of Arabic literature, Kirkuk University

“Deteriorating security means Iraqi academics are an easy target for abduction and assassination; a total of 190 professors have been killed under the occupation. You might be killed in an explosion on the street. Many professors can’t afford private cars; they ride on the bus, which makes their death more likely. Not that I’d personally want the attention or misunderstanding incumbent on having a bodyguard. We work to build the students’ confidence in us, but since we’ve grown to fear them sometimes, they too fear us. That said, both parties have resumed the work they do together — teaching and learning. Iraqi minds are specifically targeted; it’s a particularly dangerous dimension of the occupation which the killing of nuclear scientist Mohamed Al-Ardramali in Abu Ghraib prison during the first few months of occupation revealed. They want a backward Iraq to suit Zionist plans.

Neo-conservatives in Washington are already admitting that what is happening in Iraq serves Israeli, better than American, interests. So we were right to point to Zionism. Students attacked a colleague of mine; another, Abdul-Razaq Al-Naas, was assassinated. I’ve received threats since. If not for the absurd situation in which the occupation has placed us, with the vaguest promise of an elected government working towards security and stability, no student would dare hit a teacher. And what’s even more of a joke: the government requests that we should protect ourselves. Hundreds of qualified Iraqis have fled their homelands.

Many universities are without staff, and campus has turned into a kind of investigative court or interrogation chamber, in which teachers have no right to question or punish students, especially when they belong to a party, much less criticise a political organisation. I hardly know any more where the threat is coming from, whose protection to seek. True, our financial situation has improved a lot; but give me the choice of salary or security, and I’ll take the latter. Before the occupation, only one person and his family posed threats; now everyone is a threat, everyone capable of liquidating you at a blink. I don’t understand how killing came to be so easy.”

The doctor

Luway Al-Salehi

“Last January, according to unofficial sources, 26 doctors were assassinated in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities.

Physicians are in the line of fire of many entities right now in Iraq. When a member of the national guard died in my care, I was personally beaten by his colleague. Never mind that the casualty was already brain-dead when he entered the hospital, the victim of a booby-trapped car. It’s happened to many doctors besides me. But going on strike, we soon realised, only deprived the citizens of necessary medical care. Still, in the last six months alone, four doctors died on the job.

Violence on the streets makes the situation unimaginably painful in hospitals. There are too many injured for us to accommodate. We’ve even begun to spread people out on the floor. That’s not to mention the constant lack of life- saving supplies necessary for wounds and burns. The numbers of dead are such that, rather than a month in the morgue, casualties are buried within three days of their photos being published if they haven’t been identified. How many civilians have been killed? No one will answer that question; my conviction is that no official agency has undertaken a proper count of civilian casualties. Anyone who tries ends up fleeing the country; that was the case with some people who tried to publicise the number of corpses following the bombing of Samaraa. Despite the sanctions, the regime, the difficult material circumstances, before the occupation I for one was someone who had millions of dreams. I do not dream any more. In fact I’m often scared of my own shadow.

The housewife

Hana Madhloum

“I must tell you that I have suffered much to bring up my daughters, with what little help my family, my husband’s family and the neighbours could spare; finances were not forthcoming and the sanctions made it all worse. My eldest daughter Reem has now graduated from the Faculty of Engineering; Suha is a pharmacology student. My youngest, Hind, is in the final year of middle school and wants to study medicine. And having suffered, I never thought I’d miss the Saddam Hussein years. My husband died in 1993, due to lack of medication in Iraq, also brought about by the sanctions; though he was a university professor, I was unable to take him abroad for treatment. And I despised the Saddam regime. Because of Saddam’s mistakes, we lost many loved ones, many valuable things. But the last few years have been a nightmare by comparison. I wish they were a nightmare. I wish I could wake up to Saddam — and security. The worry I go through on a daily basis, waiting for my daughters to come home: no one can endure that.

I used to place freedom above security. Now I know security counts more than bread.”

The mother

Um Jaafar

(During a US raid Um Jaafar, a woman in her 40s, saw her three sons Jaafar, Haidar and Athir being killed before her eyes).

“At 2.30, the night of 21 January, I woke up to a blast that opened the door of our house in the Al-Huriya Al-Thaniya area, west of Baghdad. A group of American soldiers stormed in.

With them was an Iraqi translator, through whom they asked me about Mohamed. I pointed to my son Jaafar, whom we call Mohamed at home. Without a single comment, they moved to where Jaafar was sleeping and shot him dead. Athir, Jaafar’s 28-year-old half-brother, tried to question the translator about the reason. The response was, ‘the matter has come to an end.’ And when he tried to go upstairs to seek the help of their elder brother Haidar, 29, an American bullet beat him to it, killing him immediately. Haidar’s wife tried to defend her husband and their children, Mustafa and Ali, but one of the Americans beat her back — on the head, with a baton — to make way for the bullet that was to kill Haidar. The whole process took no more than a few minutes. In the end my daughter Shaimaa lay among the three corpses, injured and bleeding.

Only later did the translator ask me to fetch the identity cards of those killed — only to realise that there was no Mohamed among them. He said simply, ‘sorry, but we have killed them on a suspicion.’ And the raiding force left. What happened had not sunk in when they came back, and to this day I still can not believe it; I have not visited the graves of my sons. I lost three sons like that; who would believe me? I do not believe it myself. Trying to comfort me, neighbours and relatives point out that at least I got to bury my dead; there are mothers, they say, who do not even have access to their sons’ corpses once they are told they were killed. But I am a mother and my disaster feels the greatest.

Tell me, what should I do when I miss Jaafar and his brothers? I miss them. For how long will we keep losing our sons by mistake? Just tell me what to do. Can you help me not miss them?”

http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2006/787/sc3.htm

Iraq’s post US-invasion laws: Death knell for women’s rights

March 21, 2014 at 6:38 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraq’s post US-invasion laws: Death knell for women’s rights

Published Thursday, March 20, 2014

Human rights advocates and religious leaders are outraged after an overwhelming majority of the Iraqi Council of Ministers voted in favor of a contentious personal status draft law last month, which implicitly legalizes pedophilia, rape, and prostitution as long as they fall within the boundaries of a sharia-based marriage.

The draft law, put forward by Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari and approved by 21 of the 29 ministers, lowers the age of legal marriage for females to 9 years old and for males to 15 (article 16), permits unconditional polygamy (article 104), stipulates that women over 18 years of age still need fatherly consent for marriage, and gives the husband the right to sexual intercourse even without his wife’s consent (article 101).

Moreover, the bill prevents a woman from leaving her marital home or entering the workforce without her husband’s permission. The law further states that a husband is not required to financially support his wife if she is in a condition where she is unable to sexually satisfy him (article 126). The law also states that the father is the sole guardian of his children at the age of two in divorce cases, and forbids Muslims from marrying non-Muslims (article 63).

‘Shamelessly degrading’

Continue Reading Iraq’s post US-invasion laws: Death knell for women’s rights…

ITF EU Representative met with the Vice-President of the EU Parliament MEP Laszlo Tokes

March 19, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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DSC_1037

MEP Laszlo Tokes, Vice President of the European Parliament and Dr. Hassan Aydinli, ITF EU representative. (standing in front of the picture of Altiero Spinelli).

ITF EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli attended the conference : Religious Minorities in Iran under Rouhani’s Presidency at the EU Parliament on 18/03/2014.

The conference was organized by Mr Willy Fautré, Director  of Human Rights Without Frontiers and it was hosted by MEP Laszlo Tokes, Vice-President of the EU Parliament.

Participants at the conference said that Iran’s religious minorities still face harsh repression, despite earlier hopes that Hassan Rouhani, elected to Iran’s presidency in 2013, would bring much-needed reforms.

At this event HRWF also presented its annual Freedom of Religion or Belief World Report and World Report and Freedom of Religion or Belief & Blasphemy Prisoners List 2013.

After the conference ITF EU Representative spoke with MEP  Laszlo Tokes, Vice-President of the EU Parliament, he informed him of the situation in Iraq in general and about the grave problems of security the Turkmens continue to face in Iraq and how they continue to be targeted,  he also mentioned the recent assassinations of Turkmen intellectuals and ITF leaders.

Musings On Iraq Security Report March 8-14, 2014

March 19, 2014 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Posted by Joel Wing

Violence in Iraq took a slight dip in the second week of March 2014. The number of reported attacks and casualties both went down compared to the first week of the month, which was the worst of the year so far. The main cause of the decline was due to fewer car bombings by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). In fact, quite a few provinces reported the lowest number of attacks and casualties for the year. Despite that the week was still very deadly for the citizens of Iraq.
In The second week of March there were 204 reported security incidents in Iraq. That was below the first week’s 249, and tied for the second lowest amount for the year so far. The result was 323 killed, of which 112 were members of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), 7 were from the Sons of the Iraq and Awakening known as the Sahwa, and 204 were civilians. Another 618 were wounded, made up of 461 civilians, 157 ISF, and 4 Sahwa. Bombs were the most common form of attack at 100 for the week, along with 85 shootings. There were 12 suicide bombings, just around the same amount as the first week of the month, 11, but there were only 9 car bombings down from 20 the previous week. That reduction was one main cause for the drop in casualties.
Reported Violence In Iraq By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
245
285
202
240
204
227
265
247
250
204
Dead
363
372
358
308
296
255
347
370
402
323
Wounded
736
683
597
624
700
501
703
614
672
618
Reported Violence In Iraq By Province Mar. 8-14, 2014
Attacks
Deaths
Wounded
Anbar
57
85
145
Babil
5
54
163
Baghdad
44
57
155
Basra
2
2
0
Diyala
13
21
42
Kirkuk
7
5
9
Ninewa
33
29
39
Salahaddin
43
70
65
Despite the overall trend for the period Anbar remained very violent. There were 57 incidents there causing 85 killed and 145 wounded. Despite all the focus upon Fallujah, Ramadi has been the center of fighting lately. There were 26 incidents there for the week, including a large number of shootouts between the security forces and the insurgents. March 14 for example gunfire was exchanged in seven different parts of the city. Government shelling continued to take its toll as well. There were casualties due to artillery and mortars on March 8 in Ramadi and Fallujah,March 9 in Fallujah, March 12 in Fallujah, March 13 in Fallujah and Ramadi, and those two cities again on March 14. In total, 22 were left dead and 51 wounded as a result. Finally, on March 13 a suicide car bomb was used to destroy a bridge in Rawa leaving behind 19 killed and 20 injured. These have been some of the highest casualty figures in the province since the fighting started there at the end of December.
Reported Violence In Anbar By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
54
69
37
60
25
45
48
55
57
57
Dead
116
52
42
63
30
55
54
45
83
85
Wounded
243
126
47
245
79
131
89
136
108
145
Babil is another province that has become unstable since the middle of February. There were just five incidents there for the week, but one of those was a suicide bombing in Hillah on March 9 that caused 50 fatalities and 160 wounded. That was one of the worst single attacks in the last few years. The northern portion of the province has become a base for ISIS and a likely source for building car bombs that are sent into Baghdad and the south. The security forces recently tried to clear the area but were beaten back. That cost the provincial police chief his job. The suicide attack was a message to the government by the Islamic State saying that it was still strong and operating in the province.
Reported Violence In Babil By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
8
3
4
3
2
16
16
1
10
5
Dead
4
0
3
0
0
33
55
4
23
54
Wounded
28
7
3
5
0
70
137
0
46
163
Casualties in Baghdad dropped for the week due to there being fewer car bombs in the province. The week before there were ten such attacks leaving behind 33 dead and 116 wounded. In comparison, there were only five during this period. On March 8 one went off in Qahira leaving 6 dead and 14 wounded. Then there were three on March 13, one in Zayouna leaving 5 wounded, another in Sadr City with 9 injured, and then the final one in Nahda that didn’t hurt anyone. ISIS launches car bombs in waves in the capital. This week was simply one of those transition periods in between larger bombing attacks. In total, there were 44 incidents for the week, the fewest for 2014, leading to 51 deaths, the second lowest amount for the year, and 132 wounded. This was a lull in operations by insurgents, and the major reason why overall casualties were down for the period.
Reported Violence In Baghdad By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
59
58
69
58
65
47
52
54
68
44
Dead
106
147
172
90
148
50
79
113
112
51
Wounded
183
299
388
187
347
129
217
233
280
132
Salahaddin saw almost as many attacks as the week before they just weren’t as deadly. There were 43 incidents with 70 killed and 65 wounded. Tikrit, 16 attacks, Samarra, 6, and Baiji and Shirqat with five each saw the most violence. The ISF and Sahwa were the main targets accounting for 37 of the dead and 42 of the injured. The insurgency has successfully re-emerged in the province and has also gone after local politicians as a district mayor was killed in Tikrit on March 8. That same day there was an attempt on the life of a candidate from the Iraqi National Dialogue Front. March 9 a bus carrying workers from the North Oil Company was ambushed in Tuz Kharmato leaving three of them dead and 7 wounded. Most of the attacks in Salahaddin were small and targeted usually consisting of an attack upon a checkpoint or a drive by shooting or an IED on an ISF patrol.
Reported Violence In Salahaddin By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
39
40
39
41
37
46
54
49
44
43
Dead
43
79
50
57
57
48
84
83
121
70
Wounded
85
118
70
101
125
80
135
97
108
65
Diyala and Kirkuk remain largely off militants’ agenda. In the former there were only 13 incidents resulting in 21 killed and 42 wounded. In the latter there were just seven attacks with 5 dead and 9 injured. That tied for fewest attacks in a week, second lowest killed, and lowest injured. That was largely in line with the previous weeks.
Reported Violence In Diyala By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
17
20
12
19
14
12
19
19
15
13
Dead
42
25
49
37
13
12
13
33
19
21
Wounded
67
37
31
13
27
28
27
56
32
42
Reported Violence In Kirkuk By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
10
14
7
18
16
22
16
14
18
7
Dead
4
5
8
18
4
15
11
7
11
5
Wounded
70
21
27
33
25
23
26
10
41
9
Violence has gone down the last two weeks in Ninewa. There were 33 incidents for the week along with 30 killed and 39 wounded. That was the second fewest attacks and wounded, and the lowest amount of deaths. The provincial capital of Mosul is a major financial base for ISIS. In the last year or so it has attempted to intimidate and scare the local officials and ISF there, and that remains the main purpose behind attacks there.
Reported Violence In Ninewa By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
56
55
31
38
41
36
55
52
35
33
Dead
47
58
33
40
41
38
49
78
31
30
Wounded
60
66
30
40
94
36
72
75
52
39
Finally there were just a few attacks in southern Iraq. There were 2 in Basra leading to 2 killed, shootings each. That was it for the eight governorates of the region. The south was a major target for ISIS in the previous year. In 2014 however its focus has moved northward and the south has been left pretty much alone. There are shootings and explosions every now and then, some of which are likely the work of militias or gangs, but otherwise the insurgents have left the region alone.
Reported Violence In 8 Southern Provinces By Week 2014
Jan
1-7
Jan
8-14
Jan
15-21
Jan
22-28
Feb
1-7
Feb
8-14
Feb
15-21
Feb
22-28
Mar
1-7
Mar 8-14
Incidents
2
8
3
3
4
5
2
3
3
2
Dead
1
6
1
4
3
6
0
7
2
2
Wounded
0
9
1
0
3
4
0
5
1
0
SOURCES
Agence France Presse, “Iraq attacks kill nine, including parliament candidate,” 3/8/14
– “Iraq suicide bombing death toll rises to 50,” 3/10/14
-“Seven dead in Baghdad area attacks,” 3/14/14
AIN, “Civilian killed central Basra,” 3/12/14
– “Driver killed in Basra,” 3/16/14
– “Security forces clash with ISIL elements in Ramadi,” 3/14/14
Associated Press, “Suicide bomber uses Iraq police humvee in attack,” 3/8/14
Buratha News, “Four Martyrs and six wounded, and the collapse of the bridge is part of a suicide bombing that targeted a gathering of army western Anbar,” 3/13/14
– “Martyrdom and wounding six children by fall of a mortar shell on the playground on a popular football center of Ramadi,” 3/14/14
Al Forat, “Mayor killed central Tikrit,” 3/8/14
Iraq Times, “people dead and injured in the bombing of a bridge in Rawa, 39 which occurred yesterday in Anbar,” 3/14/14
– “people were injured by a car bomb in Sadr City 9,” 3/13/14
Al Jazeera, “Deaths in suicide bombing in Iraq,” 3/9/14
Al Mada “Killed and wounded 14 civilians by random bombardment of the army on Ramadi,” 3/13/14
– “Killing and wounding four soldiers in an armed attack south of Ramadi,” 3/14/14
NINA, “/5/ Civilians Injury by Bombing of the City of Ramadi,” 3/8/14
– “/23/ Civilians, Including Women and Children, Got Martyrdom and Wounded in the Shelling of Fallujah,” 3/9/14
– “Armed clashes resumed between army and armed elements in Ramadi,” 3/14/14
– “Car bomb goes off in Central Baghdad,” 3/13/14
– “A child killed and four civilians wounded in Fallujah,” 3/12/14
– “A civilian killed, six injured in Fallujah,” 3/13/14
– “A Civilian Killed, Three Members of One Family wounded by Artillery Bombing to the City of Ramadi,” 3/14/14
– “Two people, including a child killed and wounding seven others in Fallujah,” 3/14/14
– “Urgent…one killed, ten others wounded of employees NOC in an armed attack south of Kirkuk,” 3/9/14
– “A woman, a child killed, six wounded in bombing on Fallujah,” 3/8/14
Al Rayy, “Five people were injured in eastern Baghdad bombing,” 3/13/14
Yacoub, Sameer, “Iraq: Bombs Kill at Least 8 People in Baghdad,” Associated Press, 3/13/14
Xinhua, “41 killed in separate attacks across Iraq,” 3/10/14

UNPO’s UPR Reports Denounce Human Rights Situation in Iraq and Iran

March 19, 2014 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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UNPO’s UPR Reports Denounce Human Rights Situation in Iraq and Iran

PLEASE SEE:  http://www.unpo.org/downloads/848.pdf

 

UNPO has submitted two reports to be examined during the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in October-November of 2014, concerning human rights violations in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Photo by Izahorsky

On the occasion of the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, UNPO has submitted two reports denouncing the human rights situation in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite their international responsibilities, these States have failed to protect and promote fundamental human rights and freedoms of minority groups and indigenous people. Throughout the UPR procedure, a UN mechanism in which all UN States come under a general review of their human rights record, States and civil society organizations highlight the situation of human rights and issue recommendations to the ”State under Review (SuR)” to improve its human rights practice. UNPO has taken this opportunity to highlight several major issues which affect ethnic and marginalized communities in the Republic of Iraq and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The report on Iraq focuses on the Assyrian, Kurdish and Turkmen ethnic groups, raising concerns about the limited codified provision of rights for these communities in the country and the failure of the Iraqi State to fulfill its international obligations. Grave human rights violations are committed by police and security forces with arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions and torture being reported. Security concerns especially affect Iran’s minorities as religious and ethnic identity has become increasingly politicized. Other specific issues arise with the increase of violence in Iraq, the rising number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) and the unaddressed practice of land-grabbing. Further violations include multiple forms of cultural, political and religious oppression.  Given these issues, UNPO has urged the Iraqi authorities to consider the following recommendations:

– To amend and adapt the Personal Status Law and Civil Status Law to give fair and equal treatment to all citizens, including women and those of religious and ethnic minorities;

– To accede to the ICRMW and the optional protocols of the other major human rights treaty bodies;

– To remove objections entered to the CRC and CEDAW;

– To make efforts to restore balance to the ethnic makeup of the police and security forces;

– To work with the UNHCR to provide support and help to the large number of IDPs in Iraq;

– To take major steps to counter the rise of sectarian violence, and to pay specific attention to attacks on religious minorities;

– To make a priority of bringing perpetrators of attacks aimed at religious minorities to justice;

– To provide adequate funding and support for both foreign and domestic archaeologists to preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage, both Islamic and not;

– To combat electoral fraud and encourage participation by ethnic and religious groups;

– To provide all ethnic groups in Kurdistan with support as to encourage political participation;

– To provide a fair balance in the reservation of seats for ethnic groups based on the actual makeup of the population.

The second report focuses on the main human rights violations occurring in Iran, with a special emphasis on the situation of minority groups, including the Ahwazi Arabs, the Azeri Turks, the Kurds and the Baloch. There are no significant signs of improvement in the routine violations of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Discrepancies between various aspects of national laws and Iran’s human rights obligations, along with the erratic application of these laws, are the reasons for the lack of progress. There are grave restrictions on freedom of expression and association. Of special concern are the multiple reports of arbitrary arrests, unfair trials, torture and ill-treatment. Another serious issue is the widespread use of the death penalty, even for offences that are not considered among the most serious crimes under international law. In the Kurdish, Azeri, Arab and Baloch communities these abuses are carried out on a greater scale with impunity. On the basis of these findings, the report formulates a series of recommendations to be considered by the Iranian government:

– To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of discrimination and other human rights violations against persons belonging to ethnic, linguistic or other minorities;

– To end the intimidation, harassment and persecution of political dissidents, human rights defenders, academics, media workers, and lawyers, on the basis of their political views;

– To amend or abolish the vague security laws under the Constitution and Islamic Penal Code and other legislation that permits the government to arbitrarily suppress and reprimand individuals for peaceful political expression;

– To free all individuals currently deprived of their liberty for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly;

– To free all minority rights activists, human rights defenders, journalists and others who are currently imprisoned for their peaceful advocacy for minority rights;

– To uphold, in law and in practice, procedural guarantees to ensure due process of law;

– To eliminate, in law and in practice, all forms of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

– To fight impunity, investigating complaints of torture, ill-treatment and unfair trials;

– To abolish death sentences for drug-related crimes and convert those already passed to prison terms;

– To declare a moratorium on all executions; ban public executions; and limit capital punishment to offences considered to be serious crimes under international law.

During the months of October and November 2014, the UNPO reports will be examined along with other NGO reports and the State report at the 20th Session of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.

The full reports are available for download in the top right column or here:

UPR Stakeholder Report UNPO Iraq

UPR Stakeholder Report UNPO Iran

– See more at: http://www.unpo.org/article/16958#sthash.RkkiknuR.dpuf

Turkey & Iraqi Kurdistan Agree on Closer Ties / Building new bridges

March 17, 2014 at 11:02 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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2014-03-16 – KRG PM Nechirvan Barzani and Turkish FM Ahmet Davutoglu. – Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government have agreed to enable more movement between their shared border by building a new bridge and opening five more border gates, Turkey’s foreign minister announced Saturday.

 

Ahmet Davutoglu and Kurdish region’s Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani held a press conference after their meeting in Turkey’s eastern province of Van. They plan to build a third bridge at the Habur border gate, between Turkey and Iraq, to soothe congestion on the borders. Three thousand vehicles pass through Habur every day and it is not able to meet demands for trade between Iraq and Turkey, which is now worth US$12 billion every year.

“We have agreed on taking practical steps to building a third bridge in Habur and opening Aktepe, Ovakoy, Gulyazi, Uzumlu and Derecik border gates,” said Davutoglu.

He said Barzani’s frequent visits to Turkey have “helped overcome psychological steps.” “Compared to the last ten years, we are experiencing a psychological revolution,” he said. “Psychological walls built between Turkey, Iraq and the Arabs for years are being pulled down now.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Barzani said his visit to Turkey would further enhance relations between Turkey and the Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government. Barzani will also have a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey’s capital Ankara on Saturday.

http://www.worldbulletin.net

Turkmen, especially in the northeastern region of Tuz Khormato, have been targeted by repeated attacks using explosive charges and booby-trapped cars

March 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraq’s Turkmen fear impact of attacks on voter turnout
Iraq's Turkmen fear impact of attacks on voter turnout

Turkmen, especially in the northeastern region of Tuz Khormato, have been targeted by repeated attacks using explosive charges and booby-trapped cars

World Bulletin/News Desk

The representative of Iraq’s Turkmen in the government on Sunday expressed fears that ongoing attacks on his community would eventually affect their participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“The security situation in the areas where most Turkmen live has not improved,” Minister of State for Provinces Affairs Torhan al-Mufti told Anadolu Agency.

“There are no real solutions for the security crisis,” he added.

Iraq’s parliamentary elections are scheduled for April 30.

But al-Mufti and other Turkmen shudder at the prospect of a low Turkmen voter turnout in view of an ongoing Iraqi army offensive against militants in the western Anbar province and the northern Saladin and Nineveh provinces.

Turkmen, especially in the northeastern region of Tuz Khormato, have been targeted by repeated attacks using explosive charges and booby-trapped cars.

At least 31 Tuz Khormato residents, including 22 Turkmen, were killed in February, according to medical sources.

Al-Mufti expressed fears that attacks would continue until the elections time, which would affect voter turnout.

“We are worried about Turkmen voter turnout in view of the current security conditions in Tuz Khormato and Kirkuk,” he told AA.

The minister said Turkmen are subjected to what he described as “genocide,” particularly in Tuz Khormato.

The government has proposed turning Tuz Khormato into an independent province but the decision was opposed by the administration of Saladin province, which considered it an attempt to split the province.

Iraqi women protest against proposed Islamic law in Iraq

March 10, 2014 at 12:22 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraqi women protest against proposed Islamic law in Iraq

By Suadad al-SalhyMarch 8, 2014 1:37 PM
Iraqi Protesters hold banner during a demonstration against the draft of the "Al-Jafaari" Personal Status Law during International Women's Day in Baghdad

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Iraqi Protesters hold a banner during a demonstration against the draft of the “Al-Jafaari” …

By Suadad al-Salhy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – About two dozen Iraqi women demonstrated on Saturday in Baghdad against a draft law approved by the Iraqi cabinet that would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls and automatically give child custody to fathers.

The group’s protest was on International Women’s Day and a week after the cabinet voted for the legislation, based on Shi’ite Islamic jurisprudence, allowing clergy to preside over marriages, divorces and inheritances. The draft now goes to parliament.

“On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning,” the protesters shouted.

“We believe that this is a crime against humanity,” said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist. “It would deprive a girl of her right to live a normal childhood.”

The UN’s representative to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, also condemned the legislation. Mladenov wrote on Twitter the bill “risks constitutionally protected rights for women and international commitment”.

The legislation goes to the heart of the divisions in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, as Shi’ite Islamists have come to lead the government and look to impose their religious values on society at large.

It describes girls as reaching puberty at nine, making them fit for marriage, makes the father sole guardian of his children at two and condones a husband’s right to insist on sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wishes.

The legislation is referred to as the Ja’afari Law, named after the sixth Shi’ite imam Ja’afar al-Sadiq, who founded his own school of jurisprudence.

The draft was put forward by Justice Minister Hassan al-Shimari, a member of the Shi’ite Islamist Fadila party, and approved by the cabinet on February 25.

It must now be reviewed by parliament, but the draft could very well languish, with national elections scheduled for April 30, and vocal opposition among secularists.

Shi’ite religious parties first attempted to pass a version of the law in 2003 under U.S. occupation, angering secular Iraqis and prompting protests. Since then, amid Iraq’s turmoil, the tug-of-war has continued between Iraq’s secularists and Islamists.

Iraq’s current personal status law enshrines women’s rights regarding marriage, inheritance, and child custody, and has often been held up as the most progressive in the Middle East.

The proposed new law’s defenders argue that the current personal status law violates sharia religious law.

“This is the core of the freedom. Based on the Iraqi constitution, each component of the Iraqi people has the right to regulate its personal status in line with the instructions of its religion and doctrine,” said Hussein al-Mura’abi, a Shi’ite lawmaker and Fadila party leader.

(Reporting by Suadad al-Salhy. Editing by Ned Parker and Andrew Roche)

Forget Obama and the EU. The man who should really have the Nobel Peace Prize is an obscure Iraqi cleric

March 7, 2014 at 1:11 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Colin Freeman

Colin Freeman is the Chief Foreign Correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph. His latest book is Kidnapped: life as a hostage on Somalia’s pirate coast.

Forget Obama and the EU. The man who should really have the Nobel Peace Prize is an obscure Iraqi cleric

By  World Last updated: March 4th, 2014

 

With the Oscars over, shortlists are now being drawn up for that other big awards ceremony for the great and the good. The beginning of March is when the Norwegian Nobel Committee starts considering nominations for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the winner to be announced in October.

If that seems like a long time, bear in mind that just like the Oscars, the judges in the Nobel Prize have their work cut out these days, sifting through all  kinds of nominations that are far more about politics than peace.

Would you nominate this man? Edward Snowden

Gone are the years where the award would simply go to some statesman who’d worked behind the scenes to end some long-term conflict. These days, a far more flexible definition of peace is deployed. On the 2014 list, for example, is the whistleblower Edward Snowden, who has been nominated by a Norwegian socialist for re-introducing “trust and transparency in global security policies.” Has he? I don’t think anyone’s told Vladimir Putin.

Then in 2009, the prize went to a newly-elected President Obama, long before he’d had a chance to prove himself in bringing peace to Syria or stopping World War III in Ukraine. At least, though, Mr Obama had the humility to sound surprised about winning it. Unlike the EU, which, when given the prize in 2012 for promoting “democracy and human rights,” issued a press release describing it as the “the strongest possible recognition.”

Indeed, given the number of peacemaking gongs they’ve notched up already, one can’t help thinking that the the EU and US should be wiping the floor with Mr Putin over Ukraine. How can he possibly resist such pacifist expertise? Shouldn’t he be out there in Sebastopol already, shoving flowers into his soldiers’ gun barrels?  Maybe, in the peace and love spirit, Mr Obama should revert to his old drug habit and pass Mr Putin a spliff… in which case, bring in also Uruguay’s President José Mujica, who is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee this year for legalising marijuana.

Yet those who cling to the unfashionable idea that Peace Prize nominees should have some track record in stopping people killing should not despair. There are still plenty of worthy candidates out there, and I can think of one myself. His nomination papers would read roughly as follows:

A who has preached peace and between two warring sides. A man who has urged his people never to retaliate, even when provoked by the murders of thousands of their men, women and children. A man who lives quietly and modestly, who seeks neither personal gain nor political office – much less any recognition via a peace prize.

No, I’m not talking about a posthumous award for Nelson Mandela (he won it in 1993). Instead, the man I have in mind is Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the highest ranking Shia Muslim cleric in Iraq, who has done arguably more than anyone to turn the country away from all-out civil war.

Grand Ayatollah who? No, you may never have heard of him. Unlike some Iraqi religious leaders, he doesn’t make a habit of going on television and waving a Kalashnikov around. Nor has he ever been pictured with Bush or Blair. Indeed, to my knowledge, he has never consented to meet a single Western politician.

Instead, the 83-year-old mullah just gets quietly got on with his job, living in a modest house down a side street in the holy city of Najaf, and issuing various edicts for his followers, who make up the vast majority of moderate Iraqi Shias.

True, some of these edicts are not very progressive as far as the average Scandinavian Nobel prize judge is concerned. Like most Shia clerics, Sistani doesn’t approve of dancing or drinking. And in 2006, he issued a fatwah calling for homosexuals to be killed “in the most severe way” (it was later retracted, with some claiming it was issued erroneously by an aide).

But by Iraqi standards, he’s been an outstanding voice of moderation, peace and tolerance, without whom the country would probably be a far bloodier place than it already is.

To get an idea of this, you have to go back to just after the US invasion, when the ex-Baathists of Iraq’s Sunni minority formed their unholy alliance with the Sunni zealots of Al-Qaeda. While killing Americans was one of their priorities, their other real passion was killing Shias, whom they viewed not just as US collaborators but as apostates too.

In the decade since, the Shia community has suffered the most appalling provocation. Most of the car bombs that have gone off in Baghdad over the years have been targeted at Shia neighbourhoods, killing thousands. Sunni death squads regularly ambush Shia pilgrims as they head to Sistani’s city of Najaf, turning the annual holy festivals into a ritual slaughter. In 2006, al-Qaeda also bombed the Shia holy shrine at Samarra, an act roughly the equivalent to destroying St Peter’s Basilica.

Yet throughout all this bloodshed, Sistani has beseeched ordinary Shias not to retaliate. No, he has not been entirely successful. In the year that followed shrine attack, a low-level Sunni-Shia civil war broke out, with tens of thousands dying in tit-for-tat violence.

But as with so many things in Iraq, the horrors that actually took place were nothing compared to how bad it could have been. In telling his fellow Iraqis to turn the other cheek, sometimes when it was quite literally stained with their loved one’s blood, Sistani has helped averted all-out disaster, and is credited as such by many Western diplomats. He continues in this role today, as a resurgent al-Qaeda continues to re-ignite the civil war.

What makes Sistani all the more statesmanlike, though, is that he preaches peace while getting precious little thanks for it from those around him.  Fellow Shias accuse him of being too timid in the face of Sunni aggression. Al-Qaeda hate him for unsportingly refusing to join in their sectarian civil war. But these are not the only matters on which he has gone against the grain. During the American occupation, he refused to ever sanction attacks on US troops, despite the street cred this would have won him in some Iraqi circles. And to the irritation of his fellow Shia mullahs in neighbouring Iran, he remains resolutely of the “quietist” school of Islam, which says religion has no place in government.

Yet unlike Mandela or the Dalai Lama, this reclusive, media-unfriendly cleric has no armies of bein-pensant wellwishers in the West. Indeed, the man who has arguably done more than anyone else for Middle Eastern peace has virtually no recognition among the keffiyah-wearing classes.

True, a group of Iraqi Christians nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, for giving “Muslims all around the globe a good example how to follow peaceful ways”. But to my knowledge, he’s never made the shortlist, and today, rather than going on global lecture tours, he’s still holed up in that alleyway in Najaf, trying to bring peace to Iraq.

In other words, perhaps he’s just a bit too “quietist” to be a modern Nobel Peace Prize winner…

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