Iraq: Forcible Expulsion Of Ethnic Minorities

Iraq´s practice of expelling Kurds, Turkomans, and Assyrians in the oil-rich regions of Kirkuk and turning their property over to Arab families from the south continues, Human Rights Watch said today. In a new report documenting this ongoing practice, Human Rights Watch said there is an urgent need for Iraq, or in the event of war the occupying powers, to establish a mechanism that will permit the orderly return of more than 120,000 persons forced out of their homes since 1991. Human Rights Watch said this was essential to head off ethnic violence should displaced families attempt to return to the area. The report, based on interviews conducted in September 2002 with recently displaced families, details policies that include: • forcing minorities to “correct” their ethnic identity, • compelling them to join supposedly “volunteer” paramilitary forces such as the Popular Army and Saddam´s Martyrs, and • seizing the land of farming families without prior notice or compensation. Human Rights Watch said that the systematic forced and arbitrary transfer of populations is a crime against humanity under international law, and urged that those responsible be brought to justice.