Iraq: Increasing violence against the minorities in provincial elections

  • Society for Threatened Peoples
  • 30/01/2009 00:00:00

Göttingen/Arbil, 26.01.2009

Provincial elections in Iraq on 31.01.2009

Society for Threatened Peoples warns of increasing violence against the minorities

Provincial elections will be taking place in Iraq on 31st January and the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) has warned of an increase in terror attacks above all against members of the ethnic and religious minorities in the north-Iraqi provinces of Mosul and Diala. Kurds, Yezidi and Assyro-Chaldeans have in the past six years been there the goal of bombings, abductions and threats. The violence could escalate because no decision has yet been taken as to whether parts of these two provinces – like large regions of Sinjar, Nineveh Plains, Makhmur, Khanaqin and Mandali – are to be administered by the central government in Baghdad or by the regional government of the autonomous federal state of Iraqi Kurdistan. The status of the entire province of Kirkuk has yet to be clarified.

The north, west and east of the north-Iraqi province of Mosul bordering on Kurdistan is inhabited for the most part by members of the minorities and Moslem Kurds. Almost 200,000 of the remaining 600,000 Christian Assyro-Chaldean Aramaeans in Iraq and the approximately 70,000 Shabak live for the most part in the Nineveh Plains At least 440,000 of the approximately 500,000 Kurdish Yezidi live in the Sinjar Highlands. Tens of thousands from these ethnic groups had to seek refuge in the autonomous federal state of Iraqi Kurdistan.

These displaced people should also be allowed to vote: This has for months been the demand of the Iraqi Kurdistan section of the GfbV in Arbil. Approximately 100,000 IDPs from the province of Mosul – and above all from the provincial capital with the same name – are entitled to vote and approximately 18,000 from Diala.

In accordance with the electoral law, which was passed on 24th September 2008 after months of stormy debate in the Iraqi Parliament, voting will take place on 31st January in 14 of the 18 Iraqi provinces. For the ethnic and religious minorities there is a quota system. This entitles the Christians, Yezidi and Shabak in the province of Mosul to one seat each in the provincial council. In Baghdad one seat each has been reserved for the Christians and Mandeans and in the south-Iraqi Bassara the Christians are to be given one seat. In the province of Kirkuk and in the three governorates under Kurdish administration – Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dohuk – no elections are to take place.

The forthcoming provincial elections are considered to be an important step towards the stabilisation of Iraq and are to be conducted under the supervision of the United Nations. Figures provided by the independent Iraqi High Commissioner for Elections show that altogether 14,780,000 persons out of a total of 27 million Iraqis are being called upon to take part in the provincial elections. 16,600 candidates are contending for 440 seats in the 14 provincial councils.

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and his Islamist-oriented al-Dawa Party have been arguing the case for a “strong Iraqi state”. In so doing they are indirectly questioning the Iraqi constitution, which has been the subject of bitter argument, and which is guaranteed by a federal system and self-government for all Iraqi ethnic groups and religious communities. For this reason the electoral results will be seen as a landmark decision for a democratic and federal Iraq.

Für Menschenrechte. Weltweit

Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker / Society for Threatened Peoples

P.O. Box 20 24 - D-37010 Göttingen/Germany

Nahostreferat/ Middle East Desk

Dr. Kamal Sido - Tel: +49 (0) 551 49906-18 - Fax: +49 (0) 551 58028

E-Mail: nahost@gfbv.de - www.gfbv.de

  • Society for Threatened Peoples
  • 30/01/2009 00:00:00