My interview on Trans-National Middle East Observer

May 27, 2009 at 11:29 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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My interview by Wladimir van Wilgenburg

posted on:

 http://vvanwilgenburg.blogspot.com/2009/05/itf-eu-rep-says-nobody-seriously_26.html

 ITF EU rep says nobody seriously supports Turkmen

H Aydinli and M Fitzgerald
Merry Fitzgerald with Dr. Hassan AYDINLI, Iraqi Turkmen Front Europe Representative, at a UNPO conference in Brussels 16 May 2008

Merry Fitzgerald is the Secretary of the Representative of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Belgium. She is also part of the Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights in Belgium. She feels concerned about the situation of Turkmen in Iraq and says that Northern Iraq has been the homeland of the Iraqi Turkmens for over a millennium. In Belgium she is active as a human rights activist for Turkmens in Iraq. I asked some questions to get a different perspective on the Turkmens in Iraq. She also has a blog.

How did you get involved with the Turkmen from Iraq ?

Having lived in Iraq, I am very attached to the country and its people. I have followed with dismay the tragic events which have taken place since the US-led coalition attacked and destroyed the country’s infrastructure and since the criminal economic sanctions (instigated by the US and UK) were imposed on the Iraqi people.

Since April 2003 (after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq) my interest and concern have been directed principally towards the Turkmens of Iraq who continue to be victims of discrimination, marginalization and ethnic cleansing. I found that as their plight is ignored in the West their just cause does not get the attention it deserves from the European politicians, decision makers and human rights organizations.

I found the Turkmens are the only people who are oppressed and have no serious support from outside. Kurds get serious help, support and guidance from US, Europe and Israel, Shias get serious support from Iran. But the Turkmens don’t have any serious support from anybody except some cultural help from Turkey which is not enough.

POSTER Panel amsterdam

Poster of a lecture about Turkmen at the University of Amsterdam

How active are the Turkmen in Europe ? What do they do in general to get attention for Turkmen in Iraq ?

Turkmens in Europe are generally and mostly poor and uneducated refugees scattered across Europe. With their limited linguistic and financial abilities they try to inform the Europeans about their cause in the form of demonstrations, meetings, conferences and internet sites.

What do you think about the relations between Iraqi Turkmen and Iraqi Kurds?

Turkmens and Kurds used to be together, friendly and brotherly for over 1000 years. They lived together and struggled together. In fact it was the Turkmens who brought most of the Kurds from their ancestral land Kurdistan which is in mid-western Iran (Hamadan-Bakhtaran-Senendej) and recruited them in their armies and saved them from the Shiite oppression in Iran and allowed them to settle in Eastern Anatolia and Northern Iraq.

Turkmens and Kurds fought together after WWI against the British invasion of Iraq. In the 1920’ies they were together and side by side during the Musul liberation war 1919-1923 as Ozdemir and Sheikh Mahmud won a major victory in the battle of Derbend on August 30.1922. But the British-Indian army came later with a much greater power and endless arial bombardments. So they lost. Until today, Sheikh Mahmud and Commander Ozdemir are the two heroes of the Turkmens and the Kurds together.

But later, the Kurds became victims of agitation from the British, Soviets, Israel, Iran and US as they were promised to have their dreamland “Kurdistan” for themselves alone and decided to include the lands of their partners (the Turkmens) as theirs and treat them as their minority, which is not acceptable by the Turkmens because this is against the nature of Northern Iraq (Musul Region).

Musul region is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi religious area. Where there are 3 major ethnic groups (Kurds, Turkmens, and Arabs) and three minor ethnic groups (Chaldeo-Assyrians, Yezidis, Shabaks),

Each of those groups would like to have their own autonomy and self-determination rights and would not accept the domination of one of them over the rest (as the Arab domination until 2003 and from 2003 and on the Kurdish domination).

The fair solution to the problem of Northern Iraq is that:

– Each ethnic group has their own autonomy with no borders to include all their people within Northern Iraq.

– Create the Northern Federation or the Musul Federation within Iraq, where the three major groups (Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs) have equal share of power in administering the region and give the minorities a fair share.

This is the only solution. But for one group to have it all and treat the rest as minorities is not acceptable at all, that is what is happening now.

What’s the role of Ankara in the Turkmen issue of Iraq? Good or bad?

Ankara is helping Turkmens to protect their culture only so it is good to a certain degree, but it is not giving them a serious help politically, militarily and economically, therefore it is insufficient.

Do you believe the Iraqi Turkmen front was created by the Turkish army? Do you also think that the Iraqi Turkmen front ‘holds the primary responsibility for the retardation of the Turkmen political system’? See the criticism of SOITM.

The function of any army is to create another army or at least a militia. If the Turkish army created the ITF, so where is the Turkmen army or at least where is the Turkmen militia? As you know the Turkmens are the only group in Iraq who does not have an armed group. Do you think the second army in NATO is not capable to create a Turkmen army?

ITF was created by 4 Turkmen groups in Erbil in 1995 to unite their words and efforts. Turkey is giving a CULTURAL and MORAL help because no power in the world is willing to help the Turkmens.

If the so-called democratic and free countries of Americas and Europe helped the Turkmens all those years, I don’t think that the Turkmens would need any help from Turkey.

Why does SOITM (Turkmen human rights organization) says Turkmen Front was founded by Turkish army and criticizes the ITF so much? The SOITM also says the ITF is financed by Turkey

SOITM, the website you mention, is a website which is run by an Iraqi in the Netherlands who represents himself only and who is a self-proclaimed defender of the rights of the Turkmens of Iraq. I do not give any importance whatsoever to ‘an article’ the author/source of which is unknown and which is not based on reliable information.

TURKMEN MUSICIANSTurkmen artists

Why didn’t the Turkmen front and other Turkmen parties didn’t get so many votes? Is that because most Turkmen are Shia?

What do you expect from any election performed under occupation? Northern Iraq is under Kurdish Peshmerga occupation. The Iraqi elections (2005) in the North were one of the most fraudulent elections in history. Almost all ballot boxes were stolen by the Kurdish Peshmerga and votes were changed to the benefit of the Kurds. Despite a ban on transportation on Election Day, the Kurds were moving from one location to another. An average Kurd voted five times. Even the dead and under age children voted! The fraud and manipulation was so reckless and obvious that the number of votes in some location exceeded the number of the population. For example in the Turkmen city of Altun Kopru (Golden Bridge in Turkish) where the population of the town was 30.000 the number of votes was 45.000!

It was well recorded in the election complaints that the Kurdish Peshmerga prevented hundreds of thousand of people from voting because they knew that they would not vote in Kurdish favour (as it happened in the plains of Nineveh East of Musul and in the Turkmen Telafer area West of Musul and in the villages of Turkmen Bayat tribes South of Kerkuk).

So it was not surprising that the Kurds got 2.500.000 votes whereas the Turkmens got 93.000.

Almost half of the Turkmens are Shias, but that is not a factor in elections. Only the ultra religious ones voted for Shia parties. That is the same case with Religious Kurds.

How many Turkmen parties are there?

Nationalist Turkmen Parties:

1- Iraqi Turkmen Front- ITF
2- Turkmeneli Party
3- Iraqi National Turkmen Party
4- Independents Movement
5- Turkmen Nationalist Movement
6- Turkmen Decision Party

Religious Turkmen Parties:

1- Justice and Liberation Party (religious)
2- Turkmen Islamic Party (religious)
3- Turkmen Wafa Party
4- Turkmens’ Islamic Union

So altogether is 10 but the greatest one is ITF.

There are a number of Turkmen Parties created by the Kurds but they have no popularity whatsoever among the Turkmens.

Do you think there will ever be a Turkmeneli region in Iraq (Turkomen region including Arbil, Zako, Khanaqin, Kerkuk etc)? A time ago the Iraqi president Talabani also spoke about this, but it seems like the (Sunni) Turkmen support a strong central government.

Everywhere Turkmens live in Iraq is considered Turkmeneli, including Telafer, Musul, Erbil, Kerkuk, Khanaqin, Duhok and Suleymaniye. But that doesn’t mean that only Turkmens live there. In some locations they are the majority (Telafer, Kerkuk) in other locations they are the minority (Erbil, Musul).

Turkmens don’t believe or want Ethnic Cleansing, because that is against the human nature. They believe in “Tolerance and Living together” as it happened for a thousand years.

Talabani’s talk stayed as a PR talk and never realized. Like most of his promises.

All of the Turkmens (Secular-Sunni- Shia) are in support of a strong central government because they are really scared of the Kurdish separatism and ethnic cleansing desire that they plan against non-Kurds in Northern Iraq.

Why do some Assyrians, Turkmens, Yezidi and Mandaeans work together against the KRG? (See this ‘joined protest’ letter). Do you think the rights of Turkmen would be guaranteed in a Assyrian federal region as advocated by some Assyrian parties?

Turkmens, Assyrians, Yezidis, Shabaks and others are really scared of the separatist Kurds who plan for an ethnic cleansing against them once they annex the lands of Northern Iraq that they currently illegally occupy. It is natural that they work together because they are in the same pit.

There are no Turkmens in the proposed Assyrian Federal Zone which is called Plains of Nineveh East of Musul, Turkmen towns are usually, North, West or South of Musul.

 

Letter to the President of the Iraqi Red Crescent

December 23, 2008 at 1:13 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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To: Dr. Said I. HAKKI, President of the Iraqi Red Crescent

cc:

Dr. Jamal Nassir AL KARBOULI, Vice-President

Mr. Mazin A. SALLOUM, Secretary General
Mr. Obaid Ameen AHMED, Head of International Department

 

Dear Dr. Said Al-Hakki,

I am astonished to see that the three languages which are mentioned and used on Iraqi Red Crescent website http://www.iraqredcrescent.org/index.php are “ARABIC, KURDISH and FARSI”, because as far as I know, the three main languages of Iraq are: ARABIC, KURDISH AND TURKISH.

As you claim that IRC is working across all 18 provinces of Iraq it is surprising that you omit to mention the TURKISH language, given that Turkmens constitute Iraq’s third main ethnic community (representing 12% of the Iraqi population), while you mention FARSI, a language which is spoken in Iran.

If the IRAQI Red Crescent’s mission and duty is to help all Iraqis, surely this must be reflected on IRC website where, for the sake of fairness and justice, TURKISH, the language of your Turkmen compatriots, should be used as commonly as ARABIC and KURDISH.

Yours truly,

Merry Fitzgerald

Committee for the Defence of the Iraqi Turkmens’ Rights

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