03/18/2010, 00.00
IRAQ

Nineveh governor wants international probe into attacks against Mosul Christians and minorities

by Layla Yousif Rahema
The governor blames Kurdish militias and parties, calls for UN-EU investigation. Kurdish sources tell AsiaNews that al-Qaeda and inefficient law enforcement are to blame.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – The Governor of the Province of Nineveh has asked the United Nations and the European Union to undertake an international investigation into attacks against Iraqi minorities in his province. Atheel al-Nujaifi said violence against minorities in Nineveh, especially in the provincial capital of Mosul, had surged recently. He said Christians were being forced to flee and some of them have been killed. Other minorities like the Shebek and Yazidis are under immense pressure and targets of mounting violence, he explained.

In a letter, which he also addressed to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and to the commander of US troops in Iraq, Nujaifi said, “I would like to present before you the suffering of my people in the Province of Nineveh and particularly members of Iraqi minorities which started in the past few years and in the aftermath of 2003.”

Nujaifi points the finger at Kurdish militias and the political factions to which they belong. He said the armed Kurdish militias were in control of large areas of the province, including Mosul’s left bank.

Christians and Yazidis are being targeted as part of a plan to force them out so that their areas can be annexed to the Kurdish autonomous region, which borders Nineveh province.

“Those opposing the Kurdish agenda are persecuted, threatened, arrested and even liquidated," Nujaifi said.

Kurdish leaders have declined to comment Nujaifi’s charges, but last year a report by Human Rights Watch accused the Kurds of targeting Christians, Yazidis, Shebek and Turkmen as part of their fight with Arabs over Nineveh’s territory and resources.

Some Kurdish leaders told AsiaNews that insecurity in the Mosul area is mostly due to the presence and action of al-Qaeda militiamen, who are responsible for the targeted killing of Christians, and to the inaction and efficiency of law enforcement agencies.

In the meantime, vote counting from the 7 March election continues. After 83 per cent of the ballots were counted, al-Maliki’s coalition has retaken the lead against the nationalist alliance led by former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, which had surged ahead yesterday.

The State of Law Alliance leads the Iraqiya List (Iraqi National Movement), Allawi’s party, by 40,000 votes. The Iraqi National Alliance, which includes most Shia-based parties including the Sadrists, is third.

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