Christians in Kurdistan Complain about Land Seizure

By Omar al-Jaffal, for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.v

Christian citizens in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq issued complaints in court June 15 that Kurdish residents are attacking and seizing their villages in the provinces of Dahuk and Erbil. They also accused the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of neglecting the crisis and failing to take serious action to resolve an issue that has been going on for some time.

On April 13, the KRG had prohibited residents from eight Christian villages in the Nahla area in Dahuk province from accessing the KRG’s headquarters to protest and demand that an end be put to the encroachment upon their land on the part of Kurdish individuals and populations.

However, some of them managed to make it to the sit-in location and stage a protest as they held a banner that reflected the deep sorrow plaguing Christians in the region. “Our [Christian] people’s lands are encroached upon across the Kurdistan Region,” the banner read.

On April 22, a Human Rights Watch report highlighted the hardships facing Christian citizens in the Kurdistan Region amid restrictions by the Kurdish authorities preventing them from peacefully claiming their right to restore these territories.

Kurdish individuals and tribes have been seizing lands and properties belonging to Christians since the 1980s. In 1986, Saddam Hussein’s regime demolished these villages, leading to the displacement of the residents. However, as soon as the military operations of the former regime had finished, the Kurds returned to these villages and many seized Christian territory, taking advantage of the residents’ forced absence, as per the testimonies of Christian residents of those villages.

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