Sep 24, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Side Event For The Iraqi Turkmen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Side Event for the Iraqi Turkmen during the Human Rights Council’s 24th Session in Geneva, Switzerland

On the 20 September 2013, the UNPO with sponsorship from the Non-Violent Radical Party hosted the side event: “Iraqi Turkmen: Unveiling Repression in Iraq.” The panel discussion focused on the human rights abuses against the Iraqi Turkmen nation, and more specifically, the issue of land-grabbing and extrajudicial killings. This side event was moderated by Mr. Antonio Stango, a representative of the Non-Violent Radical Party. The UNPO was honored to welcome the expertise of Mr. Dirk Adriaensens of the BRussells Tribunal, Dr. Ibrahim Sirkeci from Regent’s University, London, and Ms. Sundus Saqi, a representative from the Iraqi Turkmen Front. This special side event took place during the Human Rights Council’s 24th Session in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ms. Sundus Saqi started the panel discussion with a brief history of the Iraqi Turkmen and the epic struggle that they have faced as an ethnic group in Iraq. She highlighted the specific instances and degrees of attacks that have been carried out against the Iraqi Turkmen, which include, but are not limited to, kidnappings, extrajudicial killings, and land grabbing in Turkmen-inhabited areas. 

Mr. Dirk Adriaensens added to the conversation with an overview of the human rights abuses that all Iraqis have faced since the U.S. invasion in March of 2003. Mr. Adriaensens discussed the power vacuum left in Iraq and the problems that this poses for Iraq’s numerous ethnic groups, including the Assyrians and the Mandaeans. Mr. Adriaensens pointed out that the violence against these Iraqi ethnic groups is not unique, but is certainly disproportionate.

Our panel discussion was concluded by Professor Ibrahim Sirkeci, who discussed the long-term effects of the conflict in Iraq and violence against the Iraqi Turkmen and the future of this group in their native homeland. Professor Sirkeci explained that because the Iraqi Turkmen compose the third largest ethnicity in the country, and because they have not been part of the power alliances emerged following the wars in Iraq, the impact of violence on Turkmen has been disproportionately bigger compared to other groups. One of the most frequent after effects of the violence has been internal and international displacement, which Sirkeci explained will continue to happen in response to the ongoing internal conflicts and instability in Iraq. Professor Sirkeci also incorporated elements from his research into the panel discussion, where he explained a culture of migration has been built among Iraqi Turkmen. Once a culture of migration is established, members of the group continue to migrate rather than stay and fight the difficulties they face home. In this outflow of people, Iraq is loosing a rich pool of skilled individuals too.

The purpose of this side event was to introduce the UN community to the plight of the Iraqi Turkmen nation. The overall safety of all Iraqi ethnic groups has been severely threatened in the last ten years, and the tribulations faced by the Iraqi Turkmen are no exception. The UNPO has worked tirelessly with other unrepresented nations, like the Iraqi Turkmen, to shed light on these issues through UN and European Parliament advocacy in the hopes that these groups do not suffer in silence. The aim of the Iraqi Turkmen is to live in a democratically unified Iraq that respects all ethnic groups and gives them a voice in government. The UNPO hopes to further discuss and highlight the issues faced by the Iraqi Turkmen and other Iraqi groups during the Universal Periodic Review of Iraq in November 2014. 


To read the full report on the side event, please find the attachment in the right-hand panel.

Dirk Adriaensens (center) giving a presentation.


Dr. Ibrahim Sirkeci (second from left) giving his presentation on migration patterns amongst the Iraqi Turkmen.

Ms. Sundus Saqi (far right) answering a question from an audience member.