Iraqi Parliamentarians representing ‘Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities’ at the EU Parliament in Brussels

October 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
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Iraqi Parliamentarians, representing the Shabak, Yezidi, Chaldeo-Assyrian, Mandean-Sabean minorities with MEP Struan Stevenson, Chairman Iraq Delegation, and other Members of the EU Parliament

Iraqi Turkmen Front EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli with MEP Tunne Kelam, Group of the European People’s Party

ITF EU Representative Dr Hassan Aydinli with MEP Alexandra Thein, Group of the Alliance of Liberals & Democrats for Europe

BRUSSELS, 5th October 2011

Iraqi Parliamentarians representing ‘Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities’ at the European Parliament in Brussels.

Fourteen Iraqi Parliamentarians representing the Chaldeo-Assyrian, Shabak, Yezidi and Mandaean-Sabean communities met with the EU Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq on 5th October 2011.

The Iraqi delegation was composed of:

Mr Younadam KENNA
Miss Ameena SAID
Miss Vian DAKHIL 
Mr Hussain NERMO
Miss Basma PITRUS
Mr Luis GARO
Mr Khalid ROOMI 
Mr Kaliss EISHO
Mr Imad YAKO
Mr Mohammed JAMSHEED

The meeting was chaired by MEP Struan Stevenson, President of the Iraq Delegation.

MEP Esther De Lange, Vice-President of the Iraq Delegation, and MEPs Ana Gomes, Tunne Kelam, Alexandra Thein and Jelko Kacin attended the meeting.

MEP Struan Stevenson informed the assembly that the Minorities Caucus in the Iraqi Council of Representatives was formed in July 2010 and that its aim is to develop a concrete plan of potential legislative action that stands to include reform of Iraq’s personal status law, local administration legislation, an anti-discrimination law and reform of Iraq’s educational curriculum.

The meeting has been organized with the help of :

– the Iraqi Council of Representatives,

– the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Iraq,

– the Institute for International Law and Human Rights,

– the U.S. Institute of Peace

With the support of :
UNPO (the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) and
No Peace Without Justice.

The Chairman Mr. Struan Stevenson started the meeting by saying that in the European Union we are all minorities, even Germany with its 82 million people is a ‘minority’,  and that we Europeans have learned to work together. He added that over 23% of the population of Iraq is non-Arab and that these non-Arab communities are victims of discrimination and assimilation and that their survival in Iraq is threatened.

Mr. Struan Stevenson informed the delegation that in November a big conference on Christian minorities would be held in the Lebanon.

Ms. Esther De Lange MEP, welcomed the 14-member delegation, saying that it is the first minority delegation from Iraq to be invited at the European Parliament.  She added that the delegation would also meet with the EU Commission.  Ms. De Lange said that the EU Parliament would like to have concrete examples of the delegation’s demands.

Mr. Younadam Kenna,  Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Chaldeo-Assyrian community,  was the first to take the floor, he spoke in the name of the delegation, informing the assembly of the main problems the minorities are facing in Iraq, namely regarding the unfair distribution of budget funds, the executive law system which is still the one which was used under Saddam Hussein, the pernicious law for women in the Kurdistan region where honour killings still take place, law of oil and gas repartition, religious prejudice,  lack of education in the language of the minorities in the Mosul region,  the
problem of the return of refugees belonging to the minorities, etc. He asked the help and the support of the European Union to help resolve all these problems.

Other members of the Iraqi delegation spoke about their communities’ continued suffering due to forced displacement, land confiscation, wars, lack of justice, lack of security, bureaucracy, unfair repartition of funds for the minority communities.

Miss Vian Dakhil, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Yezidi community, spoke in the name of all
women belonging to minorities in Iraq. She called for the support and help of the European Parliament for these women.

Mr. Mohammed Jamsheed, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Shabak community, recommended that the EU pay special attention to the Province of Ninewah because this is where 90% of the problems of the minorities are concentrated.

Mr. Kaliss Eisho, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, representing the Chaldeo-Assyrian community, asked
for an autonomous region for the Chaldeo-Assyrians in the Ninewah Plains.

Mr. Amin Farhan, Member Iraqi Council of Representatives, President of the Eyzidin Movement for Reform and Progress and its parliamentary faction,  spoke with force and conviction about the need for the Committee for the Revision of the Constitution in Iraq to include at least one member of each community. He said that there is no democracy in Iraq, that minorities are threatened and that they should have the means to protect themselves. Mr. Amin Farhan said that he had asked Prime Minister Nouri Maliki to reinstate the old Yezidi army and police officers and that Maliki had agreed for the return of 332 of them, but that the Chief of Staff of the Iraqi army in Baghdad, a Kurd, had refused to reinstate them.  He said that although he is a Member of the Iraqi Parliament, the Kurdish Regional Authorities do not allow him to visit his family in his home town Shikhan in the north of Iraq. Mr. Farhan spoke of the lack of freedom of expression in the Kurdish Region for Yezidis, informing the assembly that the Kurds are refusing them to distribute a Yezidi newspaper in their region.

All the members of the Iraqi delegation asked for help and moral support from the European Union, saying that they hoped the EU Parliament would make a statement on Iraq’s minorities.  They also expressed the hope that Members of the EU Parliament would visit the Iraqi Parliament frequently and that additional EU consulates would be opened in Iraq’s main northern cities.

Iraqi Turkmen Front  EU representative, Dr. Hassan Aydinli, attended the conference. He met individually with the members of the Iraqi Parliament, questioning them about the situation of their respective communities in Iraq and he encouraged them to express themselves freely and without fear.

Dr. Aydinli met with Mr. Struan Stevenson, Chairman of the Iraq Delegation and with MEPs Tunne Kelam and Alexandra Thein,  he informed them about the upcoming Turkmen Hearing by the subcommittee on Human Rights at the EU Parliament on 5th December 2011,  he also updated them about the continued targeting of Turkmen intellectuals, businessmen and political leaders in the north of Iraq and about the failure and unwillingness of the Iraqi authorities and local authorities to provide adequate protection for the Turkmen community in the north of Iraq.

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:

 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.


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.


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