Federal court verdict in favor of Kurdish farmers

By KirkukNow

The federal cassation court has decided to return 4,000 dunams of agricultural farmlands in a district of Kirkuk used by Arab settlers into the real Kurd owners, a lawyer of the Kurdish farmers said.

Following a month, the verdict has been delivered to the agriculture department of Daquq distric, 44 km south of Kirkuk, and a copy of the verdict was delivered to Shikar Mardan, lawyer of the Kurdish farmers.

“First, the verdict by Kirkuk court was in favor of Kurdish farmers yet it was appealed by Daquq agriculture department and the Arab farmers and the final say was by federal casation court,” Mardan told KirkukNow.

“The verdict returns 4,000 donums to Kurdish farmers whom can use it hereafter.”

The verdict returns 4,000 donums to Kurdish farmers whom can use it hereafter

On December 23rd, Daquq court has decided to annul the contracts of Kurdish farmers for 60 dunums of agricultural land in a village of Daquq district in favor of a number of Arab farmers.

The court’s verdict was delivered in the village of Tareq in Daquq district on December 20, 2021 to two Kurdish farmers who had been using these lands for agricultural purposes for years.

Daquq is part of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil. Part of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution deals with the issue of resolving the ownership of agricultural lands in the disputed territories, particulay in Kirkuk province thousands hectares of agricultrual lands were distributed to Arab settlers originally from the middle and southern provinces of Iraq during the period of the Baath regime.

The return of Arab farmers and their quest to return to the use of agricultural lands in Kirkuk began after the events of October 16, 2017, when the Iraqi military and security forces returned to Kirkuk and the rest of the disputed territories and ousted the forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

With the emergence of ISIS in 2014, and years before that, the Kurdish political parties and the Peshmerga were controlling Kirkuk and the disputed territories.

The disputed agricultural lands of expelled Kurdish and Turkmen farmers were distributed to the Arabs in the form of contracts in the 1970s and 1980s per a decision of the Revolutionary Command Council of Ba'th Party chaired by Saddam Hussein which is valid up today since its abolition requires a counter law by the Iraqi parliament.

Daquq district, 44 km south of Kirkuk, is home to Turkmen, Kurd and Arab communities.

“Initially, the farmlands are our property and we have deed for this but Arab revolutionary command of Baath party gave it to Arab farmers per contracts,” said Sheikh Najat Mukaram Talabani, a well-known figure of the region.

“In 2006, we got back ownership per the special court for agricultural disputes but after October 2017 events, again the Arab farmers via Kirkuk agriculture department they took it back so we filed a lawsuit,” he Talabani explained.

The area of Talaban in Daquq is home for 17,000 donums of farmlands and the case of the rest 13,000 is in the federal court pending.

“The case of the other 13,000 donums will also be in favor of Kurdish and Kakai farmers,” Mardan confidently said.

The 17,000 donums were cultivated by Arab farmers in the villages of Ashtana and Ouzeri.


Kirkuk, November 2021: Kurdish farmer in the village of Shanagha in Sargaran sub-district. Kirkuk Now

The history of this conflict dates back to the period of the rule of the Baath Regime in 1970s while successive parliaments and governments in Iraq post 2003 have failed to find radical solutions.

In the 1970s, the Baath Party, led by Saddam Hussein, distributed most of the agricultural farmlands of Kurdish and Turkmen farmers in several areas of Kirkuk to Arab settlers brought from central and southern Iraq, in the form of agricultural contracts.

These contracts continued until the fall of the Baath regime in 2003. Then, the Kurd and Turkmen real owners returned to their lands and have been cultivating those lands for the last 18 years.

“Following federal court verdict, Kirkuk and Daquq agriculture departments can’t renew contracts for Arab farmers any more is the verdicts were in favor of Kurdish farmers,” Mardan added.

Kurdish residents called on relevant authorities to materialize the verdict and retun the farmlands to owners.

“We call on related authorities to implement the verdict and return the farmlands to us,” Talabani said.

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