The Zummar area is where the alleged execution of IS prisoners by the Asayesh took place (Iraq Tradeline News Agency)
The story of the executions was relayed to HRW via interviews and social media. A man from Zummar said that he saw 30 bodies in a mass grave at the end of August. Two Asayesh also told the man that they had taken between 50-150 prisoners to two villages and killed them. Two separate Twitter accounts said that 375 IS members were killed from August 27-September 2. One of those posted a picture that looked like an Asayesh officer standing over a pile of bodies. Another photo showed 15 bodies in a grave. Families said that they surrendered to the Peshmerga from August 22-29 near Sahil al-Maliha in west Ninewa. August 30, a video was posted of the Kurdish forces lining up the people. The women and children were separated from the men and boys. Those males were reportedly the victims of the killings in Zummar.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) denied the accusations. The head of the Asayesh claimed that the deaths were the result of fighting the Islamic State. The frontline however was 40 kilometers away from the gravesite. A Kurdish MP accused HRW of using insurgent sources or sympathizers for the report. That’s expected as the KRG and the Iraqi government routinely deny any abuses. Kurdistan even has an office solely dedicated to responding to negative western reports about it.
Human Rights Watch has documented various cases against the Kurds during the war against IS. In 2015, it found that the Peshmerga were confining Arabs to specific areas after they were liberated because they were considered a security threat. The next year the group accused the Kirkuk government of expelling Arab residents and displaced from Kirkuk city, and destroying Arab homes in Kirkuk and Ninewa. Finally, HRW documented torture of IS prisoners by Kurdish forces. The KRG and Iraq in general has a poor human rights record, which has only been highlighted by the conflict against the insurgents since 2014. Various elements of the Iraqi forces have all posted pictures of executions, driving around with IS bodies latched to vehicles, strung up on poles, etc. That makes this latest HRW paper just a continuation of those practices. Neither the regional nor central government has ever held anyone accountable for any of these actions, which is why they continue.
Bas News, “HRW Sources IS Militants in Report Against Kurds: MP,” 2/10/18
Human Rights Watch, “Iraqi Kurdistan: Arabs Displaced, Cordoned Off, Detained,” 2/26/15
- “KRG: Children Allege Torture by Security Forces,” 1/29/17
- “KRG: Kurdish Forces Ejecting Arabs In Kirkuk,” 11/3/16
- “Kurdistan Regional Government: Allegations of Mass Executions,” 2/8/18
- “Marked With An “X” Iraqi Kurdish Forces’ Destruction of Villages, Homes in Conflict with ISIS,” 11/13/16