Geneva, 6 June 2013 –The event entitled “The Forgotten Nation: Turkmens in Iraq”, held at the United Nations (UN), provided a platform for discussion of the key issues the Iraqi Turkmen population is facing at the moment: land grabbing, media control and extreme human rights violations.
The event was moderated by Antonio Stango of the General Council of the Nonviolent Radical Party. The discussion started with a general introduction to the human rights situation of the Iraqi Turkmen community since 2003 by Ms. Sundus Abbas Saqi, the representative of the Iraqi Turkmen Front. The violations discussed included intimidations of the Iraqi Turkmens, killings, arbitrary detentions, assassinations and kidnappings, as well as the lack of political opportunities despite the inclusion of the Iraqi Turkmens as a community in the Iraqi constitution. The introduction was followed by a call for tolerance and respect of human rights in Iraq by Mr. Chris Chapman, head of conflict prevention at Minority Rights Group International. He went on to discuss security risks and the state’s failure to implement human rights to protect the Iraqi Turkmens against discrimination and hate-motivated attacks.
The next speaker, Mr. Ahmed Al Hurmezi, a lawyer and an activist in the Iraqi Turkmen Community, shed light on the issue of the previously state-controlled media in Iraq and its failure to recognize Iraqi Turkmens as a part of a more general Iraqi community. He went on to describe how the liberalization of media has led to increased violence between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, and how such clashes have become a major focus of international media coverage. Such a situation has affected the Iraqi Turkmen population by occupying the media time with the religious violence religious instead of allocating time for the Turkmens to advocate their cause.
Mr. Najati Kelenchy, the representative of Iraqi Turkmen Rights Committee (ITRC). In his speech Mr.Kelenchy elaborated on the issues of Kurdisation and Arabization policies directed towards the Iraqi Turkmen community. The concluding speaker, Mr. Sheth Jerjis from the Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation, focused on the topic of land confiscation, the current inadequate compensation policies, and demographic change in the Iraqi Turkmens region in the north of Iraq.
The side-event was attended by various groups, including Mr. Sror Aswad and Dr. Selama Alkafaji, independent Commissioners for Human Rights in Iraq, and well as the adviser to the prime minister in Iraq, Shiek Fateh Kashed Algeta, other Iraqi representatives in Geneva and the UN staff