Urgent Action For Iraq’s Vulnerable Components Needed: June 2014
UNPO shares first-hand information, obtained by its members in Iraq and the wider region, about the recent developments ever since the Islamic State (IS) brutally took over numerous cities and large swathes of territory in the country. The IS jihadist militants have taken control over Mosul and the nearby region in Iraq and Syria. As the Islamic State has advanced, there have been extremely worrisome reports of the intolerant, violent and abusive attacks on civilians. Considering these activities are taking place in Iraq’s most ethnically diverse region, the countries’ minority communities, as well as other vulnerable groups such as women and children, have been disproportionately affected by the violence and have been subjected to atrocities and crimes against humanity.
The United Nations announced that in June 2014, at least 1075 people have been killed in Iraq, since ISIS militants started their march to capture towns and cities. It was reported that at least 757 civilians were killed and 599 injured in Nineveh, Diyala and Saladin provinces between 5 – 22 June, as Iraqi government troops failed to control and stop the attacks. These numbers include summary executions, extra-judicial killings of civilians, police and soldiers. Since then, the situation has deteriorated incredibly. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reported that there are now over 1.8 million displaced Iraqis. The targeting and persecution of minority groups and indigenous people due to their ethnicities and religious beliefs by ISIS militants has been particularly troubling. Iraq's minority groups and indigenous people including the Iraqi Turkmen, Assyrians and Iraqi Kurds have faced massacres, forced conversions and direct attacks on their culture and identities.
Following the alarming security circumstances in Mosul, the Unrepresented Peoples and Nations Organization (UNPO) draws attention to the situation of Iraq’s civilians and vulnerable components, and calls for immediate action.
Timeline of Events: June 2014
30 June 2014
ISIS militants captured the pre-Christian worship complex of Hatra, which is a UNESCO world heritage site. It was reported that the militants have demolished a statue of Othman al-Mousuli, a 19th Century Iraqi musician and composer, and the statue of Abu Tammam, an Abbasid-era Arab poet in Mosul. In Tel Afar, Shia shrines of Imam Saad and Khider Al-Elias, a historic shrine on a site where Christians and Yezidis worshipped, as well as the Hashim Antr Mosque, were destroyed.
29 June 2014
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Syria (ISIS) proclaimed the caliphate and declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi its leader. Baghdadi called on Muslims everywhere, not just in areas under the ISIS control, to swear loyalty to him. After the establishment of the caliphate, ISIS controlled land is to be administered by strict Sharia Law, by which vulnerable groups, such as women, ethnic and religious minority components and political opponents, would have to abide.
In Mosul, the Iraqis who are not Sunni Muslim were announced as “non-Muslims” and must pay taxes to ISIS in exchange of life security against “threats”.
It was reported recently by Amnesty International that detainees belonging to minority components are encouraged to convert to Islam under custody.
28 June 2014
ISIS ordered 950 Shia Turkmens living in Guba and Shireekhan to leave the region. It was reported that 60 Shia Turkmen men were abducted from these villages by ISIS jihadist militants.
In Tal Afar, 7 Shia sanctuaries and places of worship were destroyed and burnt. It was reported that 90% of the Turkmens from Tal Afar have now left the city.
ISIS started to cut off electricity and water in Bartella, a village west of Mosul, populated mainly by Assyrians.
27 June 2014
The predominantly Assyrian city of Baghdeda (Karakus) in the Nineveh Plain, was bombed by ISIS groups. Due to the ongoing fighting between Peshmerga and ISIS militants, 25.000 persons fled from Baghdeda towards Erbil and Duhok. While some families are still on their way to Erbil or Duhok, many others seek shelter in churches and the headquarters of unions or political parties. Relief organizations report that an exodus started in the region and the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has reached 50.000, including those who have fled Baghdeda, Bartella and Karemlesh.
Refugees are reported to be waiting at the checkpoints on the border to Iraqi Kurdistan region.
25 June 2014
Muhemmed Fatih Shukr, a Turkmen business man and member of Turkmen Tribes in Iraq, was killed and burnt in his house. Meanwhile, a young Turkmen man, Ercan Camci, was kidnapped in front of his house in Kirkuk.
Besides Tal Afar and Basheer, Birowci and Kara Naz Villages were also attacked by ISIS militiamen. Many Turkmen families received threatening letters to leave their cities or pay ransom, as a result of which they are considering to leave Iraq.
24 June 2014
Munir Kafili, 61 year-old Iraqi Turkmen Front Executive Council Member was shot in the head after unidentified gunmen attacked his vehicle in the military district of Kirkuk. Kafili has been an important political actor for the Turkmen community for years and was currently in charge of the distribution of humanitarian aid coming from Turkey.
23 June 2014
After the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council held in Luxembourg, in the presence of UN Special Representative for Iraq, deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating security situation was expressed and the attacks of ISIS/ISIL were strongly condemned. The European Commission brought the 2014 humanitarian assistance for Iraq to € 12 million.
The Assyrian Aid Society in Iraq has been providing urgent humanitarian aid in the Nineveh region, distributing food packages and drinking water to more than 1000 families.
22 June 2014
ISIS returned 15 dead bodies of inhabitants of the Shiite Turkmen village of Basheer, who were killed during an ISIS attack on 17 June 2014. According to the interviews with locals from Basheer, there are still 13 dead bodies left in the village which have not been returned to the families.
21 June 2014
ISIS destroyed the statue of the Virgin Mary at the Immaculate Church of the Highest in the neighborhood of Al Shafa in Mosul, as well as the statues of Mullah Osman Al-Musali and the poet Abu Tamam.
Militiamen attacked the village of Al Shamsiyat in the Al-Hamdania District and arrested 25 village elders and young men who are Turkmen; their whereabouts is still unknown.
19 June 2014
ISIS militants attacked Biravcili village, located in the Tuz Kharmatu region in Saladin province, and killed 23 Shia Turkmens. 3 out of 23 victims were reported to be women. Militants kidnapped two Turkmens after the attacks and burnt down several houses prior to their departure. Villagers fled to the neighbouring towns, taking the bodies of their relatives with them. Thousands of Turkmen families fled to Sinjar, occupying schools, mosques, government buildings or construction sites. Reportedly, among the refugees are many sick people who need urgent medical care.
18 June 2014
Al-Ahad TV cameraman Khaled Ali Hamada was killed in Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, becoming the first media fatality since the start of the assault in the north and west of Iraq. Another Al-Ahad TV reporter Moataz Jamil Hassan was badly injured.
According to the reports of the Baghdad-based Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, the situation for Iraqi women is getting worse since they face the threat of being kidnapped from their house by the armed militant groups and be forced into a “jihad marriage”. Due to the worrisome insurgency in the country, men are encouraged to join the army. Therefore, women are left alone with their children and thus become more vulnerable to violence. The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq report that 18 women were taken from their houses and raped by ISIS militants in Mosul.
June 06 - June 17, 2014
Since June 8, 2014, after the Iraqi official army and police withdrew from Mosul, ISIS executed more than 15 prisoners in Badosh prison in the western part of Mosul. A witness said that the executions took place according to a list of more than 15 names that ISIS had in hand, including Christian, Shia, and Yezidi people.
In the Tuz Kharmatu region in Saladin province, bomb explosions in a Turkmen neighborhood on June 9, leaving 30 dead and 185 wounded.
On June 12, 2014, it was reported on that ISIS militia executed Iraqi security forces close to the border to Syria. At least one of the victims was identified as Yezidi, judging from the passport that was found in his pocket.
On June 15, 2014 ISIS fighters captured Tal Afar, a city which is mostly populated by Turkmen people. According to reports, 60 Turkmens who were under custody in the city prison were executed during clashes between the armed forces and ISIS. It has also been stated that the health center in Tal Afar has been bombed several times after the clashes started.
Reports state that on June 17, 2014 the northern Iraqi village of Basheer, which is predominantly inhabited by Shia ethnic Turkmens, was attacked by ISIS.
ISIS issues Mosul City Law
On June 10, 2014, ISIS distributed its "City Law" to all Mosul Neighborhoods, in order to control the general behavior of the citizens. The City Law includes many constraints on public life. Smoking in public and for women to appear on the streets without hijab is strictly forbidden. Women are not allowed to provide services in government offices.
Among the 500,000 civilians who had to flee from Mosul after the seizure are children. Beside these children’s needs for food, shelter and education, young girls also face an additional security challenge. In the Tamoos Neighborhood in the west of Mosul, some ISIS members knocked on the doors and asked to the resident families if they have women for marriage among the household members. Therefore, many families are afraid to let their daughters out on the streets. In Al-Wihda neighborhood in Eastern part of Mosul six men were executed by ISIS when they were trying to prevent ISIS from kidnapping two girls on June 10, 2014.
According to “the City Law” of ISIS, all Muslims must go to the mosque for 5 times a day during praying times. All non-Shi’a shrines in Mosul should be destroyed immediately. It was reported that militants demolished the shrine of a historian, located in the eastern part of the city, known as “Al-Bent grave” by the locals.
Fearing ISIS’ extremist behavior, 99% of the Christian population has already left Mosul. Fleeying their homes and their Chaldean, Assyrian and Armenian churches, 160 Christian families have found shelter in Alqosh after the assault.