Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Protests in Kirkuk by Kurdish locals are demanding to deport Arab and Turkmen residents, Iraqi parliament members were quoted saying as a rights group blamed authorities for kidnappings of Arab women in the province.
Mohamed al-Bayati, an MP, told Aljournal News that the protests toured a number of the province’s neighborhoods and saw chants asserting on Kirkuk’s Kurdish identity. He accused the government in Baghdad of disregard to “criminal practices” by the Kurdish powers in the province against Arab and Turkomen communities.
Kirkuk is one region where the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region dispute sovereignty. A political crisis erupted in March when Kirkuk’s governor, Najmuddin Karim, said that the province would back a referendum slated for September 25th on Kurdistan Region’s independence from Iraq.
Reports of the demonstrations, not yet confirmed by official authorities, coincided with accusations by a human rights organization of kidnappings and killings of Arab women.
The independent Iraqi Commission for Human Rights pointed Monday to recent killings and kidnappings of Arab refugee women in the province. It said the incidents were reminiscent of Islamic State militants brutality, which suggests it lays blame on non-militant parties.
Khattab Omar, Kirkuk’s police chief, denied the reports in a press conference shortly afterwards, deeming the claims “baseless”. He said the corpses of two elderly women found in Domiz region were left from a “mysterious murder”. He said several people at the Domiz region claim to be migrants from Islamic State-held Hawija, southwest of the province, while they were not registered as real residents of the area.
Omar added that one woman had submitted a report of the alleged kidnappings and never showed up again, which he considered an attempt to stir tensions. He said another one turned out to be the sister of an Islamic State member.