Sep 23, 2013

Shabak Kurds Targeted in Mosul

By Shvan Goran

More than 1270 Shabaks have been killed since 2003

Shabak Kurds have become targets of terrorist attacks launched by Al-Qaeda affiliated groups in Mosul and surrounding areas, leading to the death and evacuation of hundreds.

Shabak officials say they have been targeted because they are Kurds on the one hand, and Shiites on the other. Community leaders have called on Peshmarga forces to protect their areas against attacks by terrorist groups, while pointed at the failure of the Iraqi police to protect Shabak Kurds.

The targeting of Shabak Kurds in Nineveh province has escalated remarkably in recent months.

Last Saturday, a suicide attack killed at least 28 people and wounded 37 others as a bomber, wearing an explosive vest, blew himself up at a Shabak funeral in the town of Aorth Kharab in the Baashiqa district, 17Km north-west of Mosul.

Earlier, on August, 14, the terrorist organization which calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq issued threats across neighborhoods in eastern Mosul, giving Shabaks four days to evacuate the city or face death?this despite the Shabaks being the original inhabitants of the city, according to the head of the Shabak Consultant Board.

Three days later, the group started targeting Shabaks in Mosul, which led to the deaths of 16 people within four days and to the evacuation of 1 200 families, according to unofficial statistics.

According to statistics provided by the Shabak Consultant Board, more than 1 270 Shabaks have been killed since 2003, and 6 000 Shabak families have been displaced from villages in disputed territories.

This makes the Shabaks the most targeted minority group in Iraq, according to Salim Shabak, the head of the Shabak Consultant Board.

"We call on the KRG to send Peshmarga forces to Shabak areas in cooperation with Federal Government to control the security situation and protect Shabak Kurds," the head of the Shabak Consultative Board says.

"Although Shabaks have now left their own city, a day will come when they return back to Mosul, because it is their ancestral land," Salim told the Globe, demanding the implementation of Article 140 enabling Shabak-populated areas to return to the administration of the Kurdistan Region.

He says the Iraqi police and army have been infiltrated by insurgent groups, which is why the security situation in Mosul continues to worsen and the police and army have no control over the city.

The villages in the Baashiqa district are currently under the protection of Peshmarga forces, but the sub-districts of Bartla and Qaraqosh are under Iraqi Army control, and this is where the majority of Shabaks live.

"We demand that Peshmarga forces be sent to our areas, because our people trust them more than they trust the Iraqi police and army," says Salim. "We are Kurds?that is why the Kurdish government should protect us."

Although the town of Aoth Kharab was under Peshmarga control, Salim says what happened there was exceptional and could have occurred anywhere. Generally speaking, the Peshmarga and Kurdish security forces have been able to provide security in these areas.

The Shabak Consultant Board was founded in 2007 to defend the rights of Shabak Kurds.

It has 560 members including intellectuals and personalities within the Shabak community and tribes."We are now struggling to implement Article 140, so we can overcome this complex situation and returned these areas to the Kurdistan Region," concluded Salim.

Gazwan Dawoody, a Shabak representative on the Mosul Provincial Council, told the Kurdish Globe that the Iraqi police are incapable of providing security in Shabak areas of Mosul, and demanded that the KRG provide security for Shabaks, because they are Kurds.

"We call on the KRG to recruit people in these areas into the Peshmarga," demanded Dawoody, saying they have hundreds of young people ready to serve as Peshmarga to protect their areas from terrorist attacks.

?We have had many meetings with the governor of Mosul regarding the protection of Shabaks, but there have been no developments and we are concerned about the recent threats issued against Shabak Kurds,? argued Gazwan.

Shabaks were also targeted during the era of the toppled Baath Regime. The Board reveals that Shabaks were forced to evacuate their areas in Mosul in 1988, when they were moved to concentration camps in Harir, Chamchamal and elsewhere in the Kurdistan Region.

All in all, 1 660 families were forced to leave their homes, and Shabak villages were destroyed because of their Kurdish identity during the Anfal Campaign.

The Shabaks are Muslims; 65% of them are Shiite, the remaining 35% are Sunni. They reside in Nineva province in over 50 villages in, mainly, the districts of Tilkef, Hamdaniya and the sub-district of Baashiqa.

According to the Shabak Consultant Board, their estimated population is between 350 000 and 400 000. There are also considerable numbers of Shabak families in Mosul, which they claim as their home city.

Socially, Shabaks are composed of several Kurdish tribes such as the Bajalan, Zirar, Shikak and Rojbiyan, all of which have links with and bear the same names as Kurdish tribes in other areas of the Kurdistan Region. As the Head of the Board argues, this is proof of the Kurdish origins of the Shabaks.

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