Demographic Change under the Disguise of Modernization of the Countryside

Taken from and translated from its original Arabic.
Originally written by the Political Editor of
It has recently come to our attention that the Regional government has entered into an agreement with a German company by the name of “Fausink” to redesign the city of Dohuk and the surrounding towns and valleys in the province of Dohuk for touristic purposes; specifically, the areas that will be included in this plan are our historical lands where many of our towns and villages lie along the sides of the road between Dohuk and Amadiya. This road passes through the villages of Babelu (Bab Eilu) and Kori Gavana and Bakierat in addition to the villages whose populations were forcibly removed after the Simel massacres of 1933, such as the villages of kaflasan, loumana, boubawa, tazikee as well as the villages of Sacreen, Bardarawa, Dohukee, Beth Anasah, Hsmaziki, Bardaresh, Sarsank, Einashke, Blijan, Biebad, Bimadah, Mircetk and Deraluk and dozens of other villages located on the same road and in other valleys where the same program will be implemented as well, sooner or later.
It is only normal for those that are in power to be responsible for the development of the region with the goal to improve the lives of the citizens by creating opportunities for employment, providing social welfare within the framework of the principles of humanitarian values that were adopted in the new Iraqi constitution. The urbanization of the countryside and the re-design and development of urban and rural areas is an important step especially when it comes to making use of natural resources to achieve prosperity for mankind and his overall well-being. This however, should be conditional to other aspects, in the forefront of which is the preservation of the “identity” of the land and the distinctive culture of the region, in addition to achieving justice and fairness in the use of resources and not, as is the current reality on the ground such as in Ankawa, Shaqlawa, Harir or Diana in Erbil province. Most evident is the situation in Ankawa; which has lost more than 98% of its territory in the past few
years by granting permission to unknown investors who are not residents of the area to build high-rises. Most recently, four towers were built which will certainly have a “demographic impact” in favor of the prevailing ethnic majority of the region, hence changing forever the ethnic identity of the land and culture of the city.
Back to the design project in the province, the municipal offices in the area had declared their intention to confiscate the land by initially prohibiting the current owners to act freely with their properties. This announcement was made under the pretext of vital planning in the area of Sapna which includes the villages of Sarsank – Eineshke- Aradin – Hamziki – Beth Anatha – Blijan – Baibad, as well as Derre Koomaneh and Mirectek. It is also worth mentioning here that the local authorities had approved earlier the construction of a housing complex known as GIA which resulted in the confiscation of thousands upon thousands of Dunams (each Iraqi Dunam is equal to 2500 square meters) of agricultural lands in the area known as Rofee that belonged to the people of Sarsank, hence granting the residents of the housing complex the usage of what was left of the villagers’ land and the foothills which were considered to be natural pastures of the village. Few months ago, the people of Kori Gavana woke up to find their land had been included in this new design and that the distinct identity of the village had been demographically changed, as a matter of fact, this unique identity has been completely erased. The housing complex built by Saddam’s regime still exists and continues to grow and expand which is in direct conflict with the resolutions the regional parliament had adopted to remedy the damaging effects of the former regime’s policies and at odds with the language of article 58 of the Iraqi Transitional Law and interim constitution which later became known as article 140 in the permanent constitution of the country. Isn’t this considered to be applying a double standard by the regional authorities, or is it because they think they can easily trample on our nation’s rights and properties under the veil of public interest?
In conclusion, we want to inform our people that the municipal authorities had published on January 7th their intentions to sequester our territories. You have the right to object to this decision by March 7th. Note the publication of this information came in an unknown local newspaper which 99.9 percent of people do not read. It was done in this manner so our people would not know about this law and would not be able to object to it within the specified time frame. We urgently call upon our people to act quickly and register their objections so the whole project would be reconsidered and eventually reject all that harms public interest and benefits only few and leads to the elimination of what is left of the distinct identity and culture of the area. We are hopeful the concerned authorities will respond positively to our legitimate demands and will return what was ransacked during the rule of the past dictatorship and the years after that. We also ask the same authorities to extend the time allotted for registering objections for another three months to give all those affected by these measure ample time to fully review the intricacies of the project and act accordingly