Hundreds of families with IS members 'forced into camps'

Beaten, homes destroyed, livestock looted: Hundreds of families with IS members 'forced into Iraq camps'
3 min read
06 February, 2018
Over 200 families have been forcefully evicted from their homes by Iraqi forces, due to their family links with IS, in a move HRW condemned as a 'crime against humanity'.
Iraqi forces were reportedly returning civilians to areas forcibly that were still volatile [Getty]
Iraqi forces have forcibly displaced over 200 families of suspected Islamic State group members, as well as destroyed their homes and used physical violence, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on Sunday.

Most of the 235 families have been forced to move to the Daquq camp, near the city of Kirkuk in northeastern Iraq. Many had previously been residents in the camp after IS took over their homes.

Many of the forced evictions, demolitions and beatings were carried out by the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), Iraq's powerful Shia militia who played a key role in the ongoing battle to eradicate IS. However, some of their horrific war crimes are now coming to light. The forces also forcefully separated parents form their children and stole livestock from the families they were evicting, according to the rights group.

HRW said that during interviews with the families, all but one admitted to having family members affiliated with IS.

The families reported that the PMF and army forces rounded them up with no warning and brought them to the camp, all the while telling the families they were innocent but had family members in IS.

Several men and women at Daquq camp showed independent observers their bruising from the beatings carried out by Iraqi forces, but were afraid to disclose further details.

Daquq residents also told stories of being blindfolded, sent to military bases for screenings, and being subsequently sent to the camp without their children, whom they had left at home.

Witnesses also reported that soldiers in PMF uniforms set homes on fire and demolished them with bulldozers. HRW could confirm, through using satellite images, that several homes in the villages concerned had been destroyed.
Imposing collective punishment on families, villages, or entire communities is strictly forbidden and can itself be a crime, especially if it results in forced displacement
"Iraqi authorities should take immediate steps to investigate these alleged war crimes and other allegations of unlawful demolitions, looting, and destruction of civilian property," the rights organisation stated in the report.

"Iraqi authorities forcibly displacing these families are condemning them to a bleak future of difficult economic circumstances, restricted educational opportunities, and dismal living conditions in prison camps," one of the affected family members said.

HRW strongly condemned the Iraqi forces' actions, calling out that forced displacement in such a way is a war crime. 

"Imposing collective punishment on families, villages, or entire communities is strictly forbidden and can itself be a crime, especially if it results in forced displacement."

"Widespread or systematic unlawful forced displacement imposed as a policy of the state or organised group can amount to a crime against humanity," the rights group added.

Last month it was reported that Iraqi forces were forcibly returning civilians to areas that were still volatile, in an attempt to portray an image of stability to the outer world. Many people have been injured and some even killed by uncleared booby-traps left by IS fighters.

It was also revealed last month that many of the mass graves uncovered in Iraq thought to be the doing of IS were actually from mass executions carried out by the PMF.