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Still Targeted: Continued Persecution of Iraq’s Minorities

14 June 2010

Although the overall security situation in Iraq has gradually improved, minorities continue to be persecuted.

In May 2010, suicide bombers at a sports stadium in the town of Tal Afar killed 25 people and wounded over 100. Situated between the Syrian border and Mosul, Tal Afar’s residents are predominantly Shi’a of Turkmen ethnicity, and have been frequent targets of suicide bombers.

Also in May, hundreds were wounded, most of them Christians, when a convoy of school buses was attacked whilst taking students from Christian towns and villages in the Nineveh Plain back to the University of Mosul.

A new report based on investigations throughout 2009 by Minority Rights Group International’s (MRG’s) partner in Iraq, Iraqi Minorities Organization (IMO), lays bare the frequent bombings, torture, arbitrary arrest, intimidation, displacement and marginalization facing Iraq’s cultural, ethnic and religious minorities.

In the Kurdistan Region, Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces in the north, and Baghdad (where minorities such as Christians, Faili Kurds, Shabaks, Turkmen and Yazidis are concentrated), the report details targeted killings, gender-based violence and attacks on religious sites; arbitrary arrests and intimidation; political disenfranchisement; internal displacement and resulting loss of property; and discrimination in accessing public services.

Violence and marginalization have occurred for reasons ranging from territorial disputes between Arabs and Kurds, to religious bias, issues concerning political representation and long-standing patterns of discrimination.

An estimated 2.8 million people remain displaced. A significant number of those people displaced internally in Iraq since 2006 – almost 250,000 – represent minority populations. Figures for November 2009 show that, for example, of the several thousand Christian families originally from Baghdad, just 60 currently reside there, the remainder of them having fled mostly due to attacks and intimidation.

Note to the Editor