The Iraqi Turks are concentrated in the Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Salahaddin and Diyala provinces. They constitute the third largest ethnic group in Iraq, after the Kurds and Arabs. The number of Iraqi Turks is estimated at 3 million, which represents 13% of the Iraqi population.
The region in which the Iraqi Turks live has many natural resources, especially oil and gas. In addition, there is also a wide production of cotton. The Iraqi Turks are distinguished from their neighboring Arabs and Kurds both by language as well as culture. This has influenced the constant denial of their political rights and they very frequently suffer from the so-called “assimilation”.
The Iraqi Turks have undergone various degrees of suppression and assimilation that go from political persecution to exile and terror. One of the facts that demonstrate the latter was the Massacre of Kirkuk, which occurred on July 14, 1959, perpetrated by separatist and communist groups. The objective of the terrorists was to frighten and ethnically clear the city, which is to say, get rid of the Iraqi Turks.
Another step against the Iraqi Turks was the “assimilation”, a program that has been converted to state policy since 1971, when the General Assembly of the Baath Party decided to complete the Arabization of Kirkuk in 1980.
Recently, the European Parliament adopted a resolution related to the Iraqi minority groups, among them the Iraqi Turks. The said resolution condemns the attacks against the Turkish community and clarifies that “despite the references in the Constitution to the rights of the Iraqi Turks and other minorities, these continue to suffer sectarian, ethnic violence and discrimination.” In addition, the European Parliament has asked the Iraqi government “to adopt the necessary measures for offering security and protection for all citizens in general and especially for ethnic and religious minorities in particular.”
The Unrepresented United Nations Organisation (UUN) supports the Resolution because this will help the Iraqi Turks. The document has arrived at a crucial moment for the Turkish community in Iraq, where they are often victims of violet sectarian attacks. For example, January 23, 2013, a suicide bomber exploded inside a mosque during the funeral of a civilian Iraqi Turk, and killed 42 people. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated event. The violence and intimidation have become a daily part of life for the Iraqi Turks who are in the middle, as collateral damage, of the conflicts between the Arabs and the Kurdish population in Iraq.
There are several organisations that seek a higher autonomy for the Iraqi Turks. Among them are: the Iraqi Turks Front (ITF) and the Iraqi National Turcoman Party (INTP).