Iraq: Diyala's displaced barred from protesting

Iraq: Diyala's displaced barred from protesting
Displaced Iraqis from Diyala have been prevented from not only from returning to their home province by Iraqi militias but are also reportedly barred from protesting their treatment.
2 min read
17 August, 2015
Fighting between IS and Iraqi government forces and militias has forced thousands to flee [Anadolu/Getty]
Refugees from Iraqi's Diyala province are still barred from returning to their homes despite the national army liberating territories from the Islamic State group more than eight months ago.

In January, Diyala was back under Iraqi army and allied militias, after IS militants had captured towns and villages in the province.

Many of the residents of the largely Sunni province - which lies east of Baghdad and straddles the Iranian border - fled during IS' invasion and subsequent war. So far, they have been barred from returning to their homes.

Member of the Diyala provincial council Mohammed al-Karkhi told al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service: "Displaced persons from the province, who are unable to return home, are seeking by all means to find a solution to their predicament."

He added: "They have been trying to obtain permission from the authorities in Diyala to stage protests against those preventing them from returning, and appropriating the government funds allocated to them."

Kharki said the displaced people have tried to take advantage of the wave of protests in Iraq and the reform campaign led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to highlight their plight to the authorities and the world.

He pointed out that though protesting peacefully was a right guaranteed for all, the security committee in Diyala province is "prevaricating and withholding its approval".

"The displaced have knocked on all the doors of the government of Diyala, but no one can help," the provincial official continued, citing what he called the Popular Mobilisation Force militias' "domination" of the province.

The Diyala tribal council said barring displaced people from protesting equates to "repression of freedoms guaranteed by the constitution".

Speaking to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service, tribal council member Sheikh Hathal al-Nadaoui said, "Diyala is one of the worst-off provinces in the country, even if those controlled by IS are included."

He said that pro-government militias operate in the province with impunity and the largely Shia force is acting with a sectarian agenda.

"The crisis in Diyala and reforms in the province should be a top priority for the reform drive," he added.

For now, many of the refugees from Diyala live in desperate conditions in displacement camps.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.