Diyala (IraqiNews.com) Dozens of Arab families have arrived in Diyala after being expelled from Kirkuk by Kurdish authorities, a local official in Diyala was quoted saying Saturday.
Adnan al-Tamimi, mayor of Muqdadiya (35 Km northeast of Baqubah), told Alsumaria News that more than 80 families had arrived in the province having been forcibly expelled from Kirkuk.
“Kurdish security authorities in Kirkuk have practised intense pressures to move away more Arab families according to the information available to us,” said Tamimi, predicting more families to be moved out in the coming days.
Kirkuk, a province of mixed Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen ethnicities, has been central to the political crisis which flared between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region government after the latter had set September 25th as a date for a referendum on independence from Iraq. Both Baghdad and Erbil claim sovereignty over the oil-rich province, and the Arab-dominated central government has rejected the inclusion of the province in the controversial referendum.
Recent reports have told of clashes between supporters of the vote and opponents. The province’s governor was voted out by the Iraqi parliament for recurrently voicing outspoken support of the plebiscite.
Tamimi’s claims of Arabs’ deportation from Kirkuk were not the first. Earlier this month, Udai al-Khadran, mayor of Diyala’s al-Khales region, said Kurdish authorities deported Arab families who expressed opposition to the referendum.
Diyala province council voted earlier this month for boycotting the vote.
A number of world human rights organizations, most notably Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, had accused Kurdish authorities of forcibly evacuating Arab residents at areas under their control over suspicions of having links with Islamic State militants.