Friday, January 19, 2007


By Ziyat Köprülü

In the first days of 2007, the pens that composed articles whether Saddam Hussein’s execution was right or wrong have begun competing with each other in a subjective and rapid race so as to prove the perspective of their respective owners. Some expressed their doubts regarding the fairness of the trial and the eventual verdict, and considered him a “martyr”. Others supported it and stated that he deserved the punishment, reminding the murders he had committed and the inhumane practices he had carried out.

Following these perspectives I eventually read several articles advocating both views respectively. I discussed the issue with several friends and associates who knew Saddam’s murders closely, and non-Iraqis who were not familiar with these practices, as well. I do not have any reproach against people who are not aware of what this tyrant had done to his people and even to his closest circle. However, what upsets me is that a movie clip shorter than three minutes has reached its objective and impressed this miserable people, making them forget 35 years of oppression, tyranny and displacement! Thus, the “plotter” reached its objective and managed to provoke sectarianism among Iraqi people and to ignite the fuse of conflict.

However, an article written by Dr. Sahib Al Hakim, a member of the UN Human Rights Commission, World Peace Envoy and the Rapporteur of the Iraqi Human Rights Association, for whom I harbor deep affection and respect due to his scientific efforts in the field of human rights and the articles he has written, was too much for me. The “subjective article”, titled “From Al Awja to a Pit and the Gallows: Quick Excerpts from the Historical Flow of Certain Murders Committed by Saddam between 1937 and 2006”, he wrote on January 01, 2007 while he was in Mecca (fulfilling his Hajj duty) disappointed me. In this article, Dr. Sahib Al Hakim handled certain practices of Saddam Hussein and his group, and tried to justify the verdict given against him. However, he did not mention the sufferings of the Turkmen people from the hands of this tyrant, other than citing the name of a female martyr. Yet, he is one of the individuals who know the suffering of the Turkmen very well and his archive is highly rich when it comes to such documents. Should not this human rights advocate in Iraq have been much more impartial and reflected the picture of this dark era in the history of Iraq “altogether”, without any discrimination, so as to display the sufferings of all religious and ethnic elements in Iraq from the hands of this tyrant and his practices? I hope this friendly criticism of mine against Dr. Sahib Al Hakim will become a good opportunity for him to search his archives thoroughly and to correct his unintentional mistake. However, just to remind you, I would like to list briefly the practices of Saddam Hussein and his dirty regime against the Turkmen in Iraq so as to make everyone remember them and to make the ones who are going to hear them for the first time (!) to memorize them:

1. Individual and massive detentions, forced migrations, exiles, tortures and the death and imprisonment sentences given by Revolutionary Courts, found out by political and non-governmental Turkmen organizations and UN rapporteurs, and issued in the following reports:

1.1. The UN Human Rights Commission’s reports prepared according to resolutions 74/1994 of 06.03.1991 and 74/1993 of 25.02.1994.

1.2. The reports of The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO).

1.3. The report of the Iraqi National Turkmen Party dated September 1994.

1.4. Statements and reports issued by the Iraqi Turkmen Front at different times.

1.5. The execution documents handed over to the families of the executed individuals.

1.6. The reports of the Iraqi Turkmen Center of Human Rights Studies.

1.7. The reports on violations of human rights drafted by the Turkmeneli Cooperation and Culture Foundation.

1.8. The case file 273 dated 06.02.2005, containing the murders committed by the regime and its collaborators against this peaceful nation and the list of executions containing almost a thousand names, submitted to the related court in Baghdad.

2. The decisions of the Iraqi Revolutionary Council, signed by Saddam Hussein, prepared at different times on the initiatives to change the demographic structure of Turkmen regions and land expropriations there… Let us list some of those decisions issued by the official gazette of Iraq:

2.1. The decision 1391 issued in the official gazette no. 2856 dated 02.11.1981.

2.2. The decision 418 issued in the official gazette no. 2990 dated 23.04.1984.

2.3. The decision 1081 issued in the official gazette no. 3015 dated 15.11.1984.

3. The voice tape of suspect Ali Hassan Al Majid, nicknamed “Chemical Ali”, during a meeting of the high level leaders of the Baath Party’s northern region. This tape openly reveals the hidden grudge that the tyrant and his regime had developed against the Turkmen. They were talking about the execution of more than 100 Turkmen in the village of Bashir. Excerpts from this tape have been published by several newspapers/magazines and broadcasted by certain radio stations.

4. Citizens applying to government institutions were required to present a document stating their nationality and forced to change their nationality from “Turkmen” to “Arab” in census offices.

5. Mass murders committed in Tazakhormatu, Tuzkhurmatu and Altunkupri in March 1991… The regime forced the Turkmen and the Kurds to migrate to northern Iraq collectively at that time. Then, the Republican Guards Units loyal to Saddam started to bombard Kirkuk and its vicinity, supported by tank and artillery units and helicopters. They also attacked the town of Tazakhormatu south of Kirkuk, the Altunkupri district north of Kirkuk and the Tuzkhurmatu District of the Salahaddin Province. Afterwards, they executed several Turkmen by shooting, the elderly, the youngsters, children and all. The graveyards of those martyrs are the most obvious proofs of those murders.

6. Several Turkmen villages have been burned down without any reason and lands belonging to the Turkmen have been expropriated. For example, villages like Bashir, Yayci, Turkalan, Omer Mendan, Topuzova and Bastamli. Moreover, Eski Tisin suburb of Kirkuk was completely burned down in 1987 and the residents were forced to migrate without any compensation.

All those we mentioned constitute only a few examples of the inhumane practices that our people were subjected to during the Saddam regime. As these brief samples can clearly reveal, all those practices against the Turkmen were against international legislations/practices and the articles of the International Declaration of Human Rights! Thus, this tyrant, whose death turned to the detriment of the Iraqi people like his life did in the past, greatly deserved the capital punishment.

The upsetting fact is that the occupiers that supported and exceedingly assisted the cruel regime in Iraq, and rendered it impossible for the Iraqi people to topple this bloody dictator! Besides, the occupiers forced the Iraqi people to support him and to invite him to cut the tentacles of this overwhelming octopus. However, it is more upsetting that this people could only pull down this tyrant’s statue by the support and assistance of American troops!... The Iraqi people should have captured him on their own, tried him and then hanged him… If this had been the case, it would have been great. Meanwhile, The United States of America gave everyone, the leaders of regional countries in particular, a great lesson indeed. “I have nothing to tell you as long as you fulfill my orders, but do not ever stop obeying me. Otherwise, your end will be just like Saddam’s, and the fate of your people will be just like the end of the Iraqi people…!” said the United States.

Well… Against this situation, we can do nothing but take refuge in God’s mercy and beg Him “to render this land safe…”.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

UN warns of looming crisis in Kirkuk

UN warns of looming crisis in Kirkuk

Mark Tran
Tuesday January 16, 2007
Guardian Unlimited

The deteriorating human rights situation in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq could be a prelude to a looming crisis in the Kurdish region, the UN warned today.
In its bi-monthly human rights report on Iraq, the UN voiced concerns at reports of mistreatment of ethnic Turkmen and Arabs by the Kurdish majority.

"They face increasing threats, intimidations and detentions, often in KRG (Kurdish regional government) facilities run by Kurdish intelligence and security forces," the report said. "Such violations may well be the prelude of a looming crisis in Kirkuk in the coming months."

While media attention has focused on Baghdad, which accounts for most of Iraq's bloodletting, Kirkuk could be lurching towards its own mini-crisis.

Kirkuk, an ancient city once part of the Ottoman empire, has a large minority of ethnic Turks as well as Christians, Shias and Sunnis, Armenians and Assyrians. The city lies just south of the autonomous Kurdish region stretching across Iraq's north-east.

Under Iraq's new constitution, a local referendum is to be held this year to determine whether Kirkuk should join the Kurdistan regional confederacy (the united administration of Irbil, Dohuk and Sulaimaniya provinces). Because of its oil wealth, the Kurds covet the city and want it to become their regional capital.

It is a prospect that horrifies Turkey, which fears that a strong Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq with Kirkuk's oil wealth would galvanise separatist Kurdish guerrillas in Turkey who have been fighting since 1984 for autonomy.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, today warned Iraqi Kurdish groups against trying to seize control of Kirkuk. He said Turkey would not stand by amid growing ethnic tensions, prompting accusations of interference by Iraqi Kurds.

The Kurdish coalition bloc in the Iraqi parliament today read a statement during a session accusing Turkey of interfering in Iraqi affairs. "As we condemn this interference in Iraqi affairs by the Turkish government, we call upon the parliament to issue a statement condemning them as well," the coalition bloc said.

But Mr Erdogan this week reminded the Kurds that Turkey sheltered more than 500,000 Iraqi Kurdish refugees who escaped Iraq's ruthless campaign following a failed Kurdish insurgency in early 1991.

"Turkey did not remain indifferent to the plight of Kurdish peshmergas who were escaping oppression and death," he said. "Today, it will not remain indifferent to the Turkmens, Arabs ... in Kirkuk."

Military intervention by Turkey, a Nato ally of the US in northern Iraq, is unlikely, but Ankara could apply economic pressure as potential oil exports from Kirkuk have to go overland through Turkey.

Today's UN report said Kirkuk is heavily controlled by security forces and Kurdish militias - or peshmergas - who exercise to a large degree effective control of the city. Most senior official positions are occupied by Kurds or their allies from other ethnic groups.

Under Saddam Hussein, Baghdad imposed an "Arabisation" policy on Kirkuk, a massive social engineering project that drove many Kurds from their homes to be replaced by Arabs, mostly Shias from the south. Since the US invasion of 2003, many Kurds have returned and Turkmen and Arabs in the city now complain of reverse "ethnic cleansing".

"Even though violence is not on the same level as in Baghdad," the UN said, "ongoing human rights violations and the surge of violent acts which have significantly increased since 2003 are widely believed to be the doing of perpetrators and instigators from inside and outside Iraq and Kirkuk. Lately and due to the continuing insecurity, ethnic groups have moved closer to their own communities for protection."

With tension rising in Kirkuk, the referendum is shaping up to be a key moment for the Kurdish region. The Iraq Study Group, chaired by former secretary of state James Baker, warned last month in its report of the "great risk" of the referendum sparking further violence in Kirkuk and recommended postponing it for a year.

The Kurds would hardly welcome any such delay and might well annex the city precipitating a crisis with Turkey.