Kirkuk de­mog­ra­phy un­der threat

Thoun­sands of Arab IDPs re­lo­cated in the city

The Kurdish Globe - - FRONT PAGE -

Although be­fore 2003 the cen­tral gov­ern­ment of Iraq was forc­ing Kur­dish fam­i­lies out of Kirkuk and re­lo­cat­ing Arabs from the cen­ter and south of the coun­try in the city in an at­tempt to change the city’s de­mog­ra­phy, this process was sup­posed to be un­done after the fall of the Sad­dam Hus­sein’s Baathist Party.

How­ever, Arabs con­tin­ued to move into the city and set­tle there due to the se­cu­rity de­te­ri­o­ra­tions in the south and cen­ter of the coun­try. Now the se­cu­rity threats in­crease due to the war Is­lamic State im­posed on the coun­try.

The au­thor­i­ties in Kirkuk and the po­lit­i­cal ob­servers see this move as a threat to the de­mog­ra­phy of the city.

Some 21,800 Arab fam­i­lies were moved to Kirkuk be­fore 2003 as part of the Ara­biza­tion process, out of which 14,000 have been com­pen­sated by IQD20 Mil­lion (ap­prox­i­mately US$17 thou­sand) to re­turn to their home towns. How­ever, only 2,000 fam­i­lies have left Kirkuk while the rest are still there.

Dur­ing 2003-2014, some 9,000 Arab fam­i­lies re­set­tled in Kirkuk and regis­tered at the city’s refugees and im­mi­gra­tion depart­ment, while there are many more fam­i­lies who are cur­rently there with­out in­form­ing the au­thor­i­ties.

Ad­di­tion­ally, after the events of June 10, 2014, when the ISIS took con­trol over wide ar­eas in the north­ern prov­inces of Iraq, some 71,000 more Arab fam­i­lies fled to Kirkuk. This is in ad­di­tion to many fam­i­lies who have not regis­tered with the im­mi­gra­tion depart­ment.

This makes a to­tal of more than 100,000 Arab fam­i­lies in Kirkuk only within the past 11 years, which ap­prox­i­mates to some half a mil­lion peo­ple.

Kawez Mala Parez, a Kur­dish po­lit­i­cal ob­server says only a small num­ber of the Kurds who have been pushed out of Kirkuk as part of the Ara­biza­tion process be­fore 2003 have re­turned to their homes in the city.

Ac­cord­ing to Parez, some 58,802 dis­placed Kur­dish fam­i­lies have regis­tered to re­turn to Kirkuk, some of whom have re­ceived the com­pen­sa­tion pay of IQD10 mil­lion, i.e. half of the com­pen­sa­tion for the Arabs, while most of them have never ac­tu­ally re­turned to the city.

“Ad­di­tion­ally some other Kur­dish fam­i­lies of Kirkuk have left their home­town dur­ing the past 11 years and have re­set­tled in other places inside Kur­dis­tan Re­gion,” said Pare. “The last par­lia­men­tary elec­tions of Iraq showed that more than 100,000 Kur­dish vot­ers from Kirkuk are liv­ing in Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, while the fam­i­lies of an over­whelm­ing majority of the Kur­dish high rank- ing of­fi­cials of Kirkuk live out­side Kirkuk, and even abroad.”

Kamil Salayee, Mayor of Kirkuk, says due to the re­stric­tions by his of­fice for the set­tle­ment of the Arab dis­placed fam­i­lies inside the city, more than 5,000 fam­i­lies are cur­rently re­sid­ing in the city il­le­gally.

He also says the majority of the other 60,000 fam­i­lies who are legally in the city have fake doc­u­ments.

“Some groups have faked the mayor’s stamp and have been giv­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dence per­mits to the Arab fam­i­lies and have been trans­fer­ring their food ra­tion cards from their places of ori­gin to Kirkuk,” says Mayor Salayee. “They are do­ing that for an amount of money ig­nor­ing the fact that they are be­tray­ing the sa­cred land of Kur­dis­tan, since this sig­nif­i­cantly harms the is­sue of re­turn­ing Kirkuk to the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion ad­min­is­tra­tion and prov­ing its Kur­dis­tani iden­tity.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Iraqi con­sti­tu­tion all Iraqis are free to live in any prov­ince or city in Iraq in­clud­ing Kirkuk with­out re­stric­tion. How­ever, Kirkuk Mayor be­lieves that Kirkuk is a spe­cial case and should be dif­fer­en­ti­ated from other ci­ties, and the eth­nic com­po­nents of the city should not be al­lowed to try to in­crease their com­mu­nity sizes to change the de­mog­ra­phy of the city.

“The im­mi­gra­tion of Arab fam­i­lies to the city, even if jus­ti­fied in a way or another, is even­tu­ally an at­tempt to change the city’s de­mog­ra­phy and hence it is a dan­ger­ous process that should be stopped.”

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