First Published: 2010-12-09


The Human Rights Situation of the Turkmen Community in Iraq


The international community should no longer ignore the violation of human rights of Iraq’s Turkmen community, says Ahmed Al-Hurmezi.


Middle East Online

The Turkmen community represents the third largest ethnic group in Iraq. Their population size is more than 2 million of the total Iraqi population. The Turkmen of Iraq live mainly in an area which is called Turkmeneli, which stretches from the northwest to the east at the middle of Iraq. They speak "Turkmenelian", which contains some Arabic words and for their written language, they use standard Turkish (have used a modified version of Arabic alphabet in the past).

Most of the Turkmen are Muslims; there are also about 30,000 Turkmen Christians. The city of Kirkuk is considered by the Turkmen as their capital city.

The Turkmen community of Iraq has made considerable contribution to the region of Mesopotamia and to the Iraqi society in general. Unfortunately due to political differences, Turkmens in Iraq faced numerous prosecutions during the British invasion after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (First World War) and subsequent regimes that followed, especially during the devastating period of Saddam's era, which stripped many Turkmens from their right to express their culture and educate their children in their mother tongue.

Iraqi Turkmens continue to face misrepresentation even after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003. Kurdification of the Turkmeneli capital Kirkuk and another area where the Turkmen lives being one of the main problems.

Indeed, since 2003, the Turkmens are victims of human rights violation, they are marginalized in their own area, their community is discriminated, their cultural rights are denied and their language is not recognized as an official language where the Arabic and Kurdish languages are imposed as the two official languages.

They are denied their fair share of employment in the administration and they are markedly under-represented in the security forces, in the police and in the armed force which are almost all monopolized by the Arab and Kurds. The Turkmens, not having militias of their own, are left defenceless and are living under constant threats.

The international community should no longer ignore the violation of human rights of Iraq’s Turkmen community and ask UN and EU to intervene without delay and send independent international fact finding mission to Turkmeneli area.

Ahmed Al-Hurmezi is an Iraqi writer.


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