1959 Kirkuk Massacre of Turkmens

It was the day when country-wide preparations were going on due to the anniversary of July 14, 1958 when Iraq had abolished the kingdom and announced the establishment of the republic. Like any other city in Iraq, the city of Kirkuk was also decorated victoriously. Huge preparations were planned for the ceremonies and celebrations to be held that day. Children, young or old people, women or men, all the Turcoman people were waiting in their national dresses for the ceremonies to start. Since July is a very hot month, the ceremonies were planned for the evening and people started to get into the streets after six o’clock in the evening. In every neighborhood and on every street of Kirkuk, there were groups of youngsters in national dresses playing games and singing songs.

The official parade started on seven o’clock with the participation of Mayor of Kirkuk Maruf Berzenci. Other people being present for this parade were senior level officials, Peace Supporters, Revolutionary Teachers and communist organizations such as the People’s Resistance Organization and hundreds of militants. The militants, who drew attention and who made slogans against Turkmens, carried ropes in their hands. While the parade continued under these tense circumstances, people started to scold at each other. At that day around seven thirty, the Kirkuk Turks were sporadically attacked and initial gun shots were heard. The first target was the 14 July Coffee House where Turkmens were sitting. Osman Hidir, the coffee house owner, was shot dead. His feet were tied with a rope and his dead body dragged by a car. The unarmed Turkmens just wanted to celebrate the first anniversary of the republic, but they had to disperse due to the random automatic gun shooting even to young and old people. Women and children were running in panic and frustration trying to find a place to hide. In this way, the genocide that was called the “Kirkuk Massacre” had started and lasted for three days and nights. When the people tried to hide in a state of panic wherever possible, the 2nd Division Command announced curfew. But very soon, it became clear that this was only applied to the Turkmens.

Later on the distinguished individuals within the Turkish community were taken from their homes, on the pretext that the 2nd Division Command had made a call on them, and brought to the Kirkuk barracks. There were tried and sentenced in the so-called people courts within a few minutes after which they were shot to death. Meanwhile, the army, the police and the civilian organizations together with the members of the communist party carried out raids on houses they had identified in advance and arrested hundreds of Turkmens. Some of them were gathered in barracks and massacred with bayonets and rifle buts. Some Turkmen leaders were taken from their homes and shot to death with machine guns in front of their families. The death bodies were dragged behind cars by binding their feet with ropes. Ata Hayrullah, who was a kind of leader to the Iraqi Turks, and his little brother Dr. Yarbay Ihsan Hayrullah were also killed in this way. Some Turkmens were arrested and each of their legs bound with separate ropes attached to cars driving in reverse direction by which the bodies were divided into two. Some death bodies were dragged through the streets and then smashed by trucks and tractors driving over them. Afterwards, the other identified Turkish intellectuals were also taken from there houses one after the other and shared the same destiny.

The furious monsters carried out inhuman massacres. Some were buried alive. Some were hung at electricity masts and left under the burning sun. They hollowed out the eyes of some. Besides those who died, thousands of Turks were wounded in various ways. The hospitals were full with wounded people and since there was no place in the prisons, many schools were used as prisons. While these events were happening, the shops, businesses and houses of the Turkmens were looted. Thus there was no safety in life and property for the Turkmens. The property and goods that were plundered by the communist and Kurdish looters were carried by trucks to the northern region. These bloody events that have never been witnessed before in the history of mankind had great repercussions throughout Iraq. This genocide became news outside Iraq as well and had wide coverage in foreign press and radio broadcasting. The Kirkuk Massacre raised a lot of reactions and hatred both internally and externally upon which General Kasim made a statement in Baghdad on July 20 in which he had to state that he condemned the massacre and that the perpetrators would be severely punished. Kasim also announced that the massacre was planned in advance and that the responsible individuals would be put to court. Presently, now that a half century has passed over this massacre, Kirkuk is still living under the threat of similar massacres and our kinsmen are still living without having any simple human right.



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