A photo shows a homeless Iraqi family with grief and uncertainty appearing clearly in their eyes. File photo
Mosul (Iraqinews.com) – An international watchdog has accused Iraqi forces of forcibly displacing at least 235 families of suspected affiliates of the Islamic State in early January 2018.
“Most have been forced to go to Daquq camp, in the Kirkuk governorate, and a smaller number to two other camps in the area,” Human Rights Watch quoted officials, camp management, and three international organizations as confirming on Sunday.
It also accused Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) groups of forcing some parents to leave children behind, stealing some of the families’ livestock, and beating at least three of the men as these families were being displaced.
“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, the 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 IS-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 IS control, and had returned to their homes in November 2017, after Iraqi forces retook these locations.
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 IS.