- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2006

Kurds and human rights

The U.S. State Department annually releases a report on human rights violations of various countries. Its recent report on Iraq, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, released March 8, talks about arbitrary arrests and human rights abuses by Iraqis in general, including Kurdistan Regional Government authorities.

Even at a glance, it will not take much to realize that the report has no legally verifiable basis because many of the incidents are cited based upon hearsay or press reports — easily seen by the use of such language as “reportedly” in descriptions of incidents of abuse. It is not based upon a thorough investigation to determine how these violations occurred and who was behind them.

The report doesn’t even demonstrate a valid understanding of the ethnic formations. For instance, the report talks about Kakayees, Shabaks and Yezidis as non-Kurdish minorities living in Kurdistan. They are not minorities. They are indigenous Kurds. Yezidis even pray in Kurdish, unlike the majority Muslim Kurds. It’s a bit like saying Episcopalians and Jews in the U.S. are not Americans.

Furthermore, the report also talks about religious minorities being abused in Kurdistan and specifically mentions Christians. On Nov. 14, 2005, when Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, visited Pope Benedict XVI in Rome, the pope expressed his gratitude to Mr. Barzani for creating a multicultural environment where Christians could practice their faith freely.

Saddam Hussein’s government bombed Christian churches; the KRG has provided funds to rebuild those churches, according to Bishop Raban, the Chaldean bishop over the Ainkawa and Dohuk regions of Kurdistan.

The report talks about the Kurdish peshmergas cooperating with Iraqi security forces in taking Arabs to undisclosed detention centers. What the report does not specify is that many of those Arabs were identified members of terrorist groups; these were the same terrorists who in the past had been captured and turned over to Iraqi authorities in Kirkuk and Mosul and who, inexplicably, had been released after only a short time.

They returned to fight again and shed innocent blood. In addition, if this alleged cooperation with Iraqi security forces has taken place, it could not have taken place without the knowledge or complicity of American officials, because, legally, Americans are in charge of those security forces.

The report also describes ethnic minorities being harassed in Kurdistan. When one compares the current situation of the minorities with their treatment in Saddam’s era, the difference is between day and night. The minorities exercise their culture; their children study in their ethnic languages — these are social changes that never would have happened under Saddam, who, rather, imposed the Arabic language upon all.

With regard to other parts of Iraq, the situation is chaotic; there is no way you can have law and order, which preserve and promote human rights. These are the actions of isolated terrorist groups, not the policy of the government.

Although there have been reports about human rights abuses by the Ministry of the Interior and Ministry of Defense, such actions, if they indeed did happen, are the result of rogue elements in those ministries and not a concerted policy of the government.

Furthermore, the report would have been more balanced had it also mentioned the human rights violations committed by some of the U.S. and coalition forces.

Personal observation from extended trips there and news reports from Kurdistan instead verify that what exist there are relative calm, prosperity and a tolerant multicultural society. We would recommend that future reports show more rigor in reporting facts, not hearsay, and more balance by fully disclosing abuses by all parties operating in Iraq.

Even better, some concrete recommendation on how human rights could be protected and a culture of tolerance encouraged would have been more helpful to these infant governments.


Associate professor,

educational administration

and leadership

Tennessee State University



Assistant professor,

electronic media communication

Middle Tennessee State University


Geography matters

Not to be pedantic, but from a Danish reader’s perspective, James Martin makes a grave mistake in the interesting and well-argued Saturday Op-Ed column “Communications school’s cave-in.” Jyllands Posten, the Danish newspaper that initially published the nine famous Muhammad cartoons in September last year, is by local standards not a small newspaper. Among traditional non-freely-distributed newspapers in our country, it remains by far the largest in circulation.

Secondly, its headquarters are near Aarhus, the second-biggest city of Denmark located on the peninsula of Jutland (Jylland in Danish) and not on the eastern island of Zealand. I could easily make similar errors about the local American media, but in a U.S. context, this error would be something like identifying the Dallas Morning News as the biggest newspaper in the U.S. and then remarking that its headquarters are in New York.



Balking baseball

As a baseball fan awaiting a resolution to the Comcast versus Mid-Atlantic Sports Network dispute that is preventing us from seeing the Washington Nationals on television (“Rabbit ears and Peter Angelos” Editorial, Saturday), I am disappointed with the results of Friday’s hearing before Rep. Tom Davis’ Committee on Government Reform.

If the two involved parties are left to resolve the broadcasting dispute on their own, we will still be talking about this issue next year at this time. As a businessman, I have learned that the best way to resolve an issue is to offer a plan or solution to the parties involved that makes it easier for them (or pushes them) to reach an agreement. In this case, Mr. Davis’ committee needs to push much more aggressively to get this resolved.

Major League Baseball made a deal that never should have been allowed. The conflict of interest apparent in having one team’s owner in control of another team’s television rights is ridiculous.

Baseball needs to be called upon to pay for the cost of the resolution of this issue or consider facing the removal of its antitrust exemption. That thought might get MLB’s attention. The existing television deal with Mr. Angelos, owner of the Baltimore Orioles, was obvious indirect financial bribery to keep him from suing MLB for awarding Washington the Nationals franchise.

Baseball should be held accountable and made to pay Mr. Angelos appropriate compensation directly so MASN could be dissolved or at least would be willing to release rights to the Nationals broadcasts. An amount could be determined by measuring Mr. Angelos’ expected profitable revenues under the current structure.

Comcast then could bid for the Nationals broadcasts along with any other party that wants to bid.

Are Mr. Davis and his committee willing to get aggressive for the benefit of more than 1 million area residents? Or are they just going to keep talking without really doing anything?


Davidsonville, Md.



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