“More than 350 detainees held by the Kurdistan Regional Government in the Iraqi city of Kirkuk are feared to have been forcibly disappeared… Those missing are mainly Sunni Arabs, displaced to Kirkuk or residents of the city, detained by the regional government’s security forces, the Asayish, on suspicion of Daesh [terrorist group outlawed in Russia] affiliation after the regional forces took control of Kirkuk in June 2014," the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said.
On December 18, Human Rights Watch asked the Chairman of the KRG’s High Committee Dindar Zebari for information on the current number and whereabouts of people detained in Kirkuk facilities. The official has not responded. Other local officials told the HRW that the prisoners were no longer in and around Kirkuk when Iraqi federal forces regained control of the area in October.
The Iraqi-Kurdish conflict is an ongoing resistance between Kurds, whose aim is to establish an independent state, and the central Iraqi authorities. The last active phase of the conflict started in October 2017 after Iraqi Kurds held a referendum for independence from Iraq in September. The referendum was also held in Kirkuk, which was previously occupied by Kurdish Peshmerga forces amid an anti-Daesh campaign. Iraqi forces later pushed the Peshmerga out of the contested area.