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Rudaw

Kurdistan

Kurdish Taxis Shuttling to Baghdad Report Abuse by Shiite Militias, Iraq Army

By Rudaw 16/6/2014
Volunteer fighters clean their weapons following a call to arms by Shiite authorities. Photo: AFP
Volunteer fighters clean their weapons following a call to arms by Shiite authorities. Photo: AFP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish taxi drivers shuttling between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad report abuse and beatings by Shiite militias and the Iraqi military because of their ethnicity, amid turmoil in Iraq as Sunni Islamic militants nearing Baghdad vow to topple the government.

 Taxi drivers reported being abused and threatened by Shiite militants of the Iranian-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous), and by Iraqi Army soldiers.

"I returned from Baghdad two days ago, they (Asa’ib) put a gun to my head, asking if we were Kurds,” recounted a driver from Erbil. “They told us, ‘if you ever come back, we will kill you,’ and then he started cursing us and our leaders.”

In a televised speech about the security situation in Iraq, the leader of the Asa’ib, Qais al-Khazali, blamed the current turmoil on an alleged plot hatched by the Kurds, militants of the Sunni Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s ousted regime.

 "The Kurdish leaders seized the headquarters of the army and the weapons and equipment, and took control of the disputed areas after the withdrawal of the army," the Shiite leader charged.

Other drivers told similar accounts of abuse, saying that Kurds were being abused and beaten at Iraqi Army checkpoints as well.

“Even a (Iraqi army) captain did the same to us,” said one driver. “I saw them take two drivers who were ahead of me. They started hitting them with their Ak-47s. He cursed us (Kurds) one thousand times," he added. “I went through the checkpoints, but they took the other drivers.”

Drivers reported better treatment at checkpoints of the ISIS, whose fighters together with other rebels captured Mosul last week and are now near Baghdad.

“When one goes through ISIS checkpoints, they never say anything. But the Shiites insult you very much," recounted one driver.

Shiite leaders have issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling on followers to take up arms against the ISIS threat.   In response, thousands of Shiites from Iraq’s central and southern provinces have mobilized and joined their militias.

Iraq’s Sunni leaders have denounced the Fatwa, fearing it could open the gates to a war between Iraq’s majority Shiites and very large Sunni minority.  

Meanwhile al-Iraqiya TV, which is close to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malliki’s government, has seeming embarked on an anti-Kurdish campaign, accusing Kurdish leaders of cooperating with ISIS against the government in Baghdad.

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rojava | 16/6/2014
Barzani don´t want an independent Kurdistan like his father....Its sad
Hersh | 16/6/2014
They actually rather ISIL take the Kurdish territories deserted by their coward army than Kurds,they attacked an Peshmerga envoy in Khaneqin by jets yesterday killing 6. Not even in Saddams time would troops beat taxi drivers because they were Kurds or Shia etc. We took in THOUSENDS of coward Shia troops and officers fleeing from Mosul, and treated them in the best manner, we took in THOUSENDS of Shia refugees from Mosul giving them shelter and food, and this is there thanks, this is Shia honor, you dirty Iranian dogs! your masters in Iran will not be able to save you if Kurds and Sunni's unite against you!
karim | 16/6/2014
Well the Kurds did stab the country in the back. This does not in any way justify the abuse of common Kurdish laborers, however try and understand that Shias have been massacred repeatedly by Sunnis, first through under Saddam's tyranny, then by Sunni terrorism and now it seems by direct execution by the Wahhabi fanatics and the Kurdish reaction always has been to act like opportunists and provide no help in fighting terrorism. Shia anger against the Kurdish leadership is very justified.
Goran | 16/6/2014
The Shiites should blame Maliki for creating the Dajaleh force. Dajaleh and Dajjal are from the same Arabic root and even an illiterate Shiites knows that Dajjal for Shiites is like anti-christ for Christians. Didn't Maliki shut down the Shiite army of Mahdi and instead called his army, the army of Dajalh? Is he a hidden Dajjalist? It is the karma of Dajjal / Dajala force catching up with Maliki. The Sunni troops are marching along Dajlah to Baghdad.
Zelda77461 | 16/6/2014
Unbelievable. Kurds, let these arabs totally destroy eachother PLEASE.
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