Protesting eviction from homes

Arafa neighborhood protest representative released on bail in Kirkuk

KIRKUK — Sheikh Farhad Baiz, a key representative of the Arafa neighborhood protesters, was released on bail Wednesday, five days after being detained, marking a significant moment amid ongoing tensions in the area.

Baiz’s arrest last Saturday by Iraqi forces at the Chimen checkpoint, as he returned from Sulaymaniyah with his wife, was prompted by a complaint from the North Oil Company. Speaking to 964media, Baiz linked his charges to historical laws, stating, “I was charged under Article 36 of the 1994 law from the Ba’ath regime era. Thanks to the efforts and mediation of the justice minister, a deputy of the Iraqi Parliament, and lawyer Nawzad Sitar, I was released on bail.”

This incident underscores the broader strife faced by residents of the Arafa neighborhood in Kirkuk, who have been engaged in nearly two months of protests against the North Oil Company’s lawsuit. This legal action demands Kurdish residents vacate homes claimed by the company, alleging that after 2003, residents moved into properties owned by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil. The neighborhood’s residents, however, dispute this claim and refuse to leave their homes, asserting their rights and calling for an end to what they see as unjust treatment.

“The Kirkuk Court is seeking 65 heads of families from the Arafa neighborhood, including women. If this issue isn’t resolved, we will return to the streets. The suppression of Kurds in Arafa must stop immediately,” Baiz added, highlighting the ongoing legal and social challenges facing his community.

Bilal Hama Sharif, another resident of the neighborhood, spoke to 964media about the climate of fear pervading the area: “Since Dec. 28, 2023, arrest warrants have been issued for 65 people from our neighborhood. That’s why Farhad Baiz, our representative who went to Sulaymaniyah due to his wife’s illness, was arrested.”

For two months, the specter of arrest has loomed over the residents, deterring travel outside Kirkuk and exacerbating tensions. “The government is hostile towards us, even though we haven’t committed any crimes and are just living in our homes,” Sharif said, reflecting the community’s sentiment of being unjustly targeted.

The ongoing protests and legal battles represent a crucial standoff in Kirkuk, with the Arafa neighborhood’s Kurdish residents demanding recognition of their rights and an end to attempts to displace them from their homes. Baiz’s arrest and the wider actions against the community members underscore the fraught relationship between the residents and both the government and the North Oil Company, setting the stage for further developments in this ongoing conflict.

Kurdish families face eviction in Kirkuk as North Oil Company pursues lawsuit

Kurdish families face eviction in Kirkuk as North Oil Company pursues lawsuit