The Agriculture Department of Daquq District in Kirkuk province and the farmers of a village belonging to the district oppose efforts to allocate 500 dunums of agricultural land for “military camps."
A letter issued by the State Real Estate Department in Kirkuk in early January addressed to the agricultural departments in Daquq and a number of sub-districts, requesting an inspection of at least 1000 dunums of agricultural land in Daquq, Tuz Khurmato, and the Riyadh sub-district.
According to information obtained by (KirkukNow), there are efforts to turn these lands into military camps.
A source in the Daquq Farms Division anonymously told KirkukNow, “We received a letter a few days ago. There is an effort by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense to establish several camps, one of which is located within the boundaries of Daquq district.”
According to a document obtained by KirkukNow, dunams of land was requested in the village of Koli Teppe in Daquq.
"After the letter arrived, we discovered the 500 dunums, and it turned out that they are agricultural lands located between the villages of Koli Teppe and Taza De, owned by 15 farmers from the two villages,” he added
“We responded to the Iraqi Ministry of Defense with a letter in which we indicated that the ownership of these lands belongs to the farmers of the region and they have renewable agricultural contracts.”
Daquq district, 44 km south of the city of Kirkuk, is home to over 50,000 Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs.
The northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.
According to the Iraqi constitution, which was approved by a majority of Iraqi voters in early 2005, the fate of the disputed territories must be decided after three stages of normalization, census and referendum, according to Article 140, up to end of 2007.
The disputed territories is a constitutional term used to refer to the political and administrative situation in Kirkuk province and the areas that have been changed in terms of administrative and demographic conditions due to the policies of the Iraqi government from 1968 up to 2003.
Up to the present, only part of the first has been implemented, which led to tensions over administrative and security posts, disputes over ownership of lands and farms and several other issues leaving the area in poor conditions in terms of public services and security.
On Saturday, March 4, a reporter (KirkukNow) went to the village of Koli Teppe and spoke with farmers who expressed their rejection of attempts to set up camps on their lands.
Fahmi Habib, the mukhtar (elected representative) of the villages of Kuli Taba and Taza De, told KirkukNow, “We ask the Iraqi government to stop this effort. If 500 dunams of agricultural land are converted into a camp, the other 500 dunams will surely become a forbidden area in the vicinity of the camp. This means that the residents of the two villages have to evacuate her."
He stressed that the 500 dunums that have been allocated belong to 15 farmers from the villages of Koli Taba and Taza Di, whose livelihood depends on agriculture.
There are 75 farmers in these two villages who have contracts issued by the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture authorizing them to use agricultural lands.
"The government, instead of creating job opportunities for dozens of young men from the two villages, also makes the rest lose their jobs. We demand that this effort be stopped," says Habib.
The Real Estate Registration Department in Kirkuk, at the request of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, also requested an inspection of other plots of land in the Tuz Khurmatu district of Salhaddin province and the sub-districts of Riyadh and Rashad in Kirkuk.