Kurds terrorized by armed groups in Iraq's
July 8, 2012
Residents of Jalawla waves banners condemning
terrorist acts and supporting the deployment of
Kurdish Peshmerga forces in their area. September
2011. Photo: albawaba net
See Related Links
NORTH DIYALA, Iraq, — A Kurdish resident
of Sadiya, in northern Diyala province complained
that it is not even possible to go out to get
vegetables. “Here, it is like Kandahar!” After the
fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, 43 percent of areas
historically claimed by Kurds were considered
"disputed" and put under Article 140 in the
Kurdish residents of this region receive threatening
letters or text messages from radical terrorist
groups such as the Islamic State in Iraq and
Salih Mahdi, a council member in Saadiya, says,
"Before they were just asking us to leave. Now they
have a list of demands."
A Kurdish resident Rudaw spoke with said the Iraqi
government in Saadiya is only a facade, and the
citizens pay a heavy price if they choose not to
obey the demands of armed groups.
"Here, terror is in charge. All residents have been
notified by letter. Anyone who chooses not to obey
their rules after being notified will get killed in
a short time. Here, being brave means to stay out of
harm’s way," he says.
Masked gunmen appear in town most nights, usually an
indication that someone will be killed, according to
"They are so willing to kill Kurds. We have no
choice but to obey them to save our lives," says a
45-year-old female resident of Saadiya.
Some of the rules these terrorists groups insist
upon include prohibiting any celebrations, the sale
or use of alcohol, taking pictures or removing
Abdulkhaliq Garib, director of the Patriotic Union
of Kurdistan (PUK) committee in Saadiya, said that
some photographers complained that they had been
ordered not to take photos. He said, "People here do
not dare breaking the rules because it will cost
them their lives."
Garib added that, while the PUK committee can listen
to the stories of suffering, they remain helpless.
"We cannot do anything. When the 34th Brigade was in
Sadiya, life was good; but when they left in 2008,
nothing remained as it once was," said Garib.
In 2008, Peshmerga forces retreated after Kurdish
homes and residents were targeted by armed groups.
The presence of the Iraqi police in Saadiya has not
helped Kurdish families at all.
"They do not want to get harmed so they keep silent.
They would not move even if it meant the lives of
hundreds of people like us," said a Kurdish
Protection money is also a large problem in the
area. People here tend to repeat the phrase: "I pay
money, I am protected."
Muhammad is a shopkeeper who cannot open his shop
for more than five hours a day because of terrorist
groups. "Those groups extract money from owners of
restaurants and gas stations and in return they are
allowed to do business in Saadiya," he said.
Jasim Muhammad, a security officer in Saadiya,
confirmed this statement, saying, "But Arab
residents carry out their businesses unhindered,
while the terrorists groups keep a list of all the
wealthy residents and Kurdish shop owners."
He complained about the restrictions to his
authority: "We cannot do anything. The Iraqi
government has restricted our activities and we can
only be spectators."
None of the wealthy people in Saadiya dared to speak
to Rudaw for their own security.
"People are afraid to go out of their houses to buy
their daily necessities. I know many people who will
only go to Khanaqin to buy 2 kilos of tomatoes. The
bazaar of Saadiya has become a terrifying place and
people avoid it," said Mahdi.
"The shops of five Kurds have been destroyed with
explosives so far. The latest victim was Shukur
Faraj’s teahouse which was destroyed last winter,"
"No one has paid as heavy a price as the Kurds did
over identity in this region," said Hassan
Abdulrahman, a Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)
official in Saadiya.
KDP headquarters are sought out every day by Kurds
who come and plead for help.
"We also are fed up with the situation and cannot
wait anymore," added Abdulrahman.
Saadiya is a small town of approximately 47,000
people -- Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs -- 40 kilometers
from Kalar. Its population has been subject to
shifts since 1975 due to the Arabization process,www.ekurd.net
resulting in a steadily decreasing number of Kurds.
Kurds now constitute 12 percent of the population,
while in 2003 they made up 38 percent.
“After the fall of Saddam, 480 Kurds were martyred
and around 200 of these were cadres and Peshmerga
members – not to mention the 1,200 families who have
deserted this town," Abdulkhaliq explained.
By Nawzad Mahmoud - Rudaw
Copyright ©, respective author or news agency,
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the
content of news information on this page