The Washington Post reported January 25th that Palestinians in Iraq, who are predominately Sunni, were being targeted by Shiite militias and Iraqi police. The article begins with the story of a many named Luay Mohammed.
Mohammed was awakened by shouting in his building just before someone broke down his door, the Post says. The report detailed Mohammed’s plight: “The men, some wearing police uniforms, entered before dawn demanding identification cards, Mohammed recalled. They tore the doors off the closet, threw the television on the floor and hauled Mohammed and his two barefoot brothers outside to be blindfolded. They and 14 other men were taken to what they thought was a government office, where a man others kept calling ‘sir’ spoke to their huddled group.”
The report went on: “‘You are Palestinians. Why are you still living in Iraq?’ Mohammed recalled the man saying. ‘You have 48 hours to leave.'”
According to the Post, thousands of Palestinians in Iraq are experiencing an increasingly hostile environment at the hands of the majority Shiites. This stems in part because, as the Post says, Sunnis are “…perceived as having been favored during the rule of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.” The report cites Palestinians and human rights officials in Baghdad as saying the efforts against the Palestinians are designed to expel them from Iraq.
Iraqi officials cited in the report said the Palestinians were detained for “investigation purposes.” The Post says Iraqi Brigadier General Saad Abdullah of the Interior Ministry stated the men had seemed suspicious. General Abdullah also said that Iraqi officials discussed ways to “get the approvals for them to be refugees in other countries,” the Post says.
The Post report says that nearly 20,000 Palestinians have left Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, leaving about 15,000 still in the country. Those estimates were attributed to the United Nations. According to the Post, over 300 Palestinians are stuck in a refugee camp at the Syrian border. They have been denied entry into Syria and they will not go back to their homes in Iraq, the Post says.
The Post article quoted a U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq report that says “Killings, threats, intimidations and kidnappings are becoming the norm for Palestinians in Iraq. Many of these actions are reportedly carried out by the militias wearing police or special forces uniform[s].”
Information for this article was obtained from “Palestinians under Pressure to Leave Iraq,” by Joshua Partlow, Washington Post Foreign Service, published January 25, 2007 in the Washington Post.