Kurd-Arab tension rising over property disputes in Iraq: Human Rights Watch

Wext: Tuesday, 03.August. @ 00:00:00 CEST



- 2h03 - The US-led coalition in Iraq failed to settle property disputes between displaced Kurds and Arab settlers in Iraq's north, leaving a situation that "could soon explode into open violence," an international human rights organization warned Monday.

Human Rights Watch said in a 78-page report that there was increasing frustration among thousands of Kurds, Turkomans and Assyrians living in "desperate conditions" as they wait for answers regarding their property claims.

"If these property disputes are not addressed as a matter of urgency, rising tensions between returning Kurds and Arab settlers could soon explode into open violence," said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa division.

Kurds, Turkomans and other non-Arabs were kicked out of their homes under Saddam Hussein's "Arabization" program, which Human Rights Watch said was "effectively an ethnic cleansing campaign to permanently alter the ethnic make-up of northern Iraq."

The report describes how "the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority failed to act even as the situation grew more volatile," the New York-based organization said in a statement.

The rights group urged the interim Iraqi government, which took over power from the Americans June 28, to "urgently" implement a judicial system to resolve the disputes and bring humanitarian aid to the displaced Kurds and other non-Arabs.

Kurds and other groups have returned to Iraq's north to reclaim their properties since Saddam's fall in April 2003, the report said. Arab families who were forced from their homes since last year also need help, Human Rights Watch said.

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