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Baghdad’s Faili Kurds threatened, forced out over referendum

By Rudaw 13/8/2017
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Baghdad’s Faili Kurds threatened, forced out over referendum
Faili Kurds have been threatened and killed in Iraq for decades. Photo: Rudaw video
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – A number of Faili Kurds report being forced out of their homes in Baghdad. They have left their homes and properties behind and moved to the Kurdistan Region. 

Harassment of Faili Kurds in Baghdad intensified after the Kurdistan Region set a date for its independence referendum. Some of those who were threatened said that an unknown group approached them in broad daylight and told them to leave Baghdad or be killed.
 
“Life became difficult for us the Failis in Baghdad after the decision was made to hold the referendum in southern Kurdistan,” said a Faili Kurd from Baghdad now living in Sulaimani. Southern Kurdistan refers to the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.

“They tell us not to live in Baghdad, go out, and go to Kurdistan. ‘You are a Kurd, why are you living here?’ they say,” Salah Hassan told Rudaw. 

“We had been living in Baghdad for a while. We have work there. They don’t accept that we stay in Baghdad nowadays. Hence, we have come to Kurdistan. Where else should we go to, other than Kurdistan?”

Faili Kurds are Shiites who have mainly lived in the south in Baghdad and some of the disputed areas on the southern edge of the Kurdistan Region. They have been threatened and killed for decades. 

Nazira Ismail has been forced out of Baghdad twice. She was an oil engineering department teacher and ran on the Kurdistan Alliance list in recent elections. In 2010 she received a threatening letter.
 
“They had put a letter on the front of my door, which read: ‘We will be cutting you into pieces if you don’t leave Baghdad within 24 hours. You are a Kurdish and American spy.’”

“I am not a spy,” she said.

An estimated 2,000 Faili families live in Sulaimani. Many support the referendum despite threats against them. Some have formed an organization in Sulaimani to deal with their affairs. Their group has 650 members. 
 
The president of the organization told Rudaw that the more they are pressured, the more they will support a ‘Yes’ vote on September 25.

“It is unthinkable for a Kurd who is truly a Kurd, who wants the interests of the Kurdish nation, and knows about the hardship of the Kurdish nation, not to support the referendum,” said Ezra Mohammed. 

“Faili Kurds are Kurdish and are all in general supporting the referendum, although you might not be able to say that you support the referendum if you live outside the Kurdistan Region. Every Faili Kurd supports the referendum as far as I know.” 

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