In areas affected by Arabization campaign

Kirkuk’s Kurdish farmers prevented from harvesting crops

KIRKUK  —  Kurdish farmers in Kirkuk’s Sargaran and Palkana subdistricts are protesting against the Iraqi Army’s prohibition on harvesting their crops for the year, vowing not to leave their lands for Arab settlers brought to the area by the former Baath regime.

Ahmed Aziz, a local farmer, told 964media that Iraqi Army officers warned them against harvesting their wheat and barley crops, and prevented them from bringing agricultural harvesting machinery to the area. Aziz lamented that the recent heavy rainfall had already caused a loss of approximately 50 percent of their crops.

Mohammed Amin, representing Sargaran’s Kurdish farmers, highlighted, “The property deeds of the lands in Sargaran’s villages belong to Kurdish farmers, but the former Iraqi regime expelled residents of 10 villages in the area during the Arabization campaign in 1974 and 1987, replacing them with Arab settlers.”

“We returned after the fall of the former regime in 2003, hoping to reclaim our lands, but the Iraqi government has evaded responsibility for a resolution,” Amin added.

Arabization, initiated by the Iraqi government in the 1960s, aimed to displace Kurds from their homes in Kirkuk and surrounding regions, replacing them with Arab settlers from central and southern Iraq.

Iraq’s 2005 Constitution outlined a three-phase “normalization” solution in Article 140, including the return of Arab settlers to their original areas and the restitution of usurped properties to Kurds. This was to be followed by a referendum on whether the residents of the “normalized” areas would want to join the Kurdistan Regional Government or stay under the control of the federal government. However, these constitutional provisions remain unimplemented despite the 2007 deadline for the normalization process.

In recent years, buoyed by the appointment of an Arab governor, settlers in Kirkuk, with the backing of the Army and security forces, have repeatedly intimidated Kurds into vacating their areas or prevented them from accessing their lands.