Voiceless Turkmen Children of Tuz Khormato: Count Us

*Source: Turksam.org ©

Voiceless Turkmen Children of Tuz Khormato:
Count Us

Introduction

Children have rights under international human rights law. The United Nation Security Council identifies six grave categories of violations against children in armed conflict areas: Killing children, attacks against schools or hospitals, denial of humanitarian access for children, sexual violence, and abduction of children and recruitment of children as soldiers.

Yet, the international community seems to be turning a blind eye to the case of the children of Tuz Khormato in Iraq, who are suffering due to the aggression of Kurdish Militia and terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Daesh) or ISIS. On 23 April 2016, there have been grave violation against Turkmen people including children of Tuz Khormato by Kurdish militia and peshmergha attacking civilians by heavy machinery, tanks, armed vehicles and snipers.

The below left picture is for two years old S Kasim, shot by Kurdish sniper, on the 25th of April 2016. Although some may argue that it was like a war zone, however it is believed that it was a deliberate act.

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The above right picture is for M Ali ,5 years old boy also was killed by kudish sniper on same day in Tuz Khormato. (TFR; Report, Tuz Khormato still bleeding, April 2016)

Many children with their families were forced out of their houses which were burnt in front of their eyes by Kurdish militia. They left with nothing, no food, clothes or money. Is this not violation of the Geneva Convention?

During that terrible week of April 2016, many attacks were carried out on civilians of Tuz Khormato. Turkmen houses and shops were burnt and ransacked and the Kurdish militias discriminately were firing with heavy machine gun and mortar. The electrical powers were cut by blowing up the main power transformer by Kurdish militia.

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This is not first time for the children of Tuz Khormato to suffer.  Not long ago in 12 November 2015 the Kurdish militia (empowered by the West) attacked the Turkmen Public Mobilization Force (PMF), who are local Turkmen people defending their town against DAESH (al Dawlah al-Islameyah fi Iraq wal-Sham – Arabic acronym for ISIS – Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).  The Kurdish Militia Instead of helping Turkmen people in fighting DAESH, directed their guns against them. As the result many children and civilians were killed and more than 150 hundred families were forced out of their houses and burnt, more than 250 shops were looted, destroyed and set fire. More than 300 families left the city.

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Turkmen Houses and Shops Have Been Burnt

Above left photo for 10 year old child killd with his mother by Kurrdish militia sniper stationed at roof of the hospital 12 November 2015.

The events started with clashes between Kurdish militia and Turkmen PMF, when two of unarmed Turkmen PMF were killed by Kurdish militia, at the check point of Tuz Khormato north gate and they injured few more. The wounded people were taken by ambulance to hospital. The Kurdish militia surrounded the hospital and took over the security of the hospital.  They attacked the ambulance and prevented the driver to transfer the seriously wounded people to Kirkuk hospital for urgent medical care.

Below another example of Kurdish militia atrocities, is Malag, who was born in February 2015, her father Murtatha was killed while defending of Tuz Khormato and sub district Basheer, another Turkmen town. Basheer was taken over by Daesh June 2014.

Malag’s parents were on honeymoon when DAESH attacked Basheer. The Kurdish militia were targeting the families whose sons joined PMF, who were defending against DAESH. Malag’s family is one of many, who fled the town, as they were attacked in their house after death of her father by Kurdish militia. Malaga’s grandfather is a well-known and respected doctor in Tuz Khormato.

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The survivors of such attacks are in daily emotional and psychological turmoil. No one is considering the psychological and later on mental health outcome of such daily atrocities on young children.

Over that week of April 2016, I was almost in daily contact with my elderly parents, my brothers with their families and extended families who live in Tuz Khormato. I can sense the fear in their voices as hundreds of mortars were fired to houses in their neighborhood.  They lived three days in hell before they fled for their lives. My parents were heartbroken hearing my young nieces saying, they wished to be Kurd and not Turkmen, so the Kurdish militia would leave them alone.

The Story of Tuz Khormato

Tuz Khormato located 200 km north of capital of Iraq, Baghdad and 70 km south of oil-rich Kirkuk, situated on the main road connecting South of Iraq with North.

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Prior to Saddam’s era and for centuries Tuz Khormato was populated by majority (>90%) Turkmen Shia, it was the biggest district of Kirkuk. (Turkmen in Iraq are the third ethnic group after Arab and Kurd, with population of around three million people). Saddam annexed it on 29 January 1976 from Kirkuk, and add it to Salahadeen province, his birth home town. The name of Tuz Khormato in Turkish, means salt, date & berry.

I was born in Tuzhurmatoo, lived and witnessed how things evolved in the last fifty years in my town. I completed my high school in mid-seventies. There was no single Kurdish or Arab girl in my year throughout the twelve years of my study, only Turkmen. After graduation from medical school, I went back to work in Tuzhurmatoo.  The demography of the town was changing, with more Arabs settled in the town as result of Saddam‘s Arabization policy. There were few Kurdish families in the town in the sixties and seventies.

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The above photo of Tuz Khormato in 1953, when almost populated with Turkmen people

However; from 2003, Kurds gained the upper hand thanks to their military power and backing from the U.S.-led coalition. A new era of “Kurdization” started in Tuz Khormato. Kurdish authorities used various means of fabrication, deception, falsifying hospital birth records, mobilizing more Kurdish families to the town. The Kurds have been trying to take over Tuz Khormato, to be part of Kurdistan.

Turkmen people of Tuz Khormato have been directly or indirectly and aggressively forced to leave their homeland. Initially people were attacked by AL Qaeda affiliated terrorist, who had strong, ties with Kurdish Islamic groups. Later on all other Kurdish parties played role in intimidating Turkmen people of Tuz Khormato.

More than 1,860 individuals, amongst them many children, lost their lives as result of car bombs, road side bombs and suicide bombers in addition to targeted killings by DAESH and its forerunners. More than 3,000 individuals were injured in Tuz Khormato alone in this period, leaving many with physical and mental disabilities. With Kurdish-Shia fighting a new layer of violence has been added to the sad tale of this city.

Conclusion: What Future for Tuz Khormato?

There are long standing family ties and relation with some strong friend ship between the Turkmen of Tuz Khormato and the old Kurdish families. Elderly Kurdish people and almost all Turkmen people are not happy with the new Kurdish policy in attempt of taking over the city by force. Turkmen people are keen on unity of Iraq, and looking to live in peace and harmony with others in the same land they lived for hundreds of years. The control and the  authority, is in the hands of Kurdish forces, yet they are happy to watch and turn blind eyes to such atrocities in day light, were  houses and premises of voiceless people were burnt.

The picture of little Kurdish boy Aylan, who died on Turkish shore, last year while his parents attempting to escape the war from Syria 2015, captured the world attention including the Western leaders. This led Europe to open their gates for Syrian refugee. Where are Saja’s, Mohammad’s and Malag’s rights in the eyes of those leaders, especially USA policy makers “friends of Kurdish Authorities?”

Ayatullah Al-Sistani, sent delegates to break peace deal and to cease the fire. Without Al Marjhayia intervention and support more children and women would be killed and families forced out of their home town and land by indiscriminate act of Kurdish militia.

In the absence of Iraqi government control and failure to protect its own citizens, the international communities, especially USA, UK, Germany need to stop arming and supporting Kurd against others, and UN to extend their hands to count and protect those innocent children from such atrocities.

Dr. Al Bayati 

Please cite this interview as follows:

Bayati A. (June, 2016), “Voiceless Turkmen Children of Tuz Khormato: Count Us”, Vol. V, Issue 6, pp.6 – 12, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=11885)

References

Turkmen Rescue Foundation; TRF; Human rights department https://www..facebook.com/Turkmen.rescue.foundation/  turkmenfoundation@gmail.com

P.S. The photo of children and houses burning, and Kurdish militia attacking people houses are from TRF.

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