(Mosul) – Officials, camp management, and three international organizations have confirmed that in early January 2018, Iraqi forces forcibly displaced at least 235 families of suspected affiliates of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, Human Rights Watch said today. Most have been forced to go to Daquq camp, in the Kirkuk governorate, and a smaller number to two other camps in the area.
As these families were being displaced, groups within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), also known as the al-Hashd al-Sha'abi, destroyed some of their homes, forced some parents to leave children behind, stole some of the families’ livestock, and beat at least three of the men.
“How can Iraq claim it’s turned a corner and supports reconciliation when its own forces are waging collective punishment on civilians,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Nothing positive can be gained from government complicity in furthering divisions in Iraqi society.”
The manager of Daquq camp, 30 kilometers south of the city of Kirkuk, told Human Rights Watch during a January 23, 2018 visit that the camp had received 220 families since January 4. All were from villages in the Hawija area, west of Kirkuk, and were brought to Daquq by Iraqi forces because they allegedly had ISIS-affiliated relatives.
Some had previously been residents of the camp or other camps for the displaced between 2014 and 2016, when their homes were in areas under ISIS control, and had returned to their homes in November 2017, after Iraqi forces retook these locations. While a number of aid groups work in the camp, it has limited medical and educational services. A representative from an international organization confirmed that forces forcibly displaced at least 15 more families to two other camps in the area.
Human Rights Watch interviewed 24 people from 19 families, who said they had been brought to the camp between January 4 and 9. These families came from 10 villages: al-Dhirban, al-Alwiya al-Jadida, Garhat Ghazan, Gharifi, Kaysuma, Kifah, Maftool, Maratah, Murabata, and Sayid Hamid. All except one person readily admitted that they had relatives who joined ISIS.