After residents of one of Kirkuk’s neighbourhoods staged a protest, the Federal Government has ordered the demolition of houses without a building permit to be temporarily suspended.
Several months ago, backed by ministerial decrees, the Kirkuk Administration started a campaign to demolish buildings constructed without a permit, including houses in the ‘Celebrations Square’ neighbourhood.
On 4 October, tensions rose as residents started protesting when authorities brought bulldozers and started demolishing the houses in the aforementioned neighbourhood, during which a man died of a heart attack and several others were wounded.
Marwan Ahmad al-Ubaidi, head of Kirkuk’s Youths and Sports Department, told KirkukNow: “The Minister of Youth and Sports Adnan Dirjal has decided to hold off the demolition of houses in that neighbourhood and to halt the campaign.”
The neighbourhood is located in the southern parts of Kirkuk City. Prior to the fall of the Ba’th regime, it was being used as a training ground by security forces. The land belongs to the Ministry of Youths and Sports. 300 houses have been built there without permits.
al-Ubaidi says that the minister has informed him in a phone call that he will be in Kirkuk next week to look into the issue.
Several shops in the same neighbourhood were demolished by the authorities earlier this year, and residents of the illegally built houses were given a period of time in order to evacuate.
Khadija Ali, an MP representing Kirkuk at the Iraqi Parliament, confirmed the minister’s intervention in a post on her Facebook page. She adds that there is an attempt to let the residents keep their houses.
Since the fall of the Ba’th regime led by Saddam Hussein in 2003, thousands of houses have been built on government property.