Kurdish peshmerga's torture of children in KRG must stop - analyst

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) peshmerga fighters must stop detaining children on terrorism offences linked to Islamic State (ISIS) and using electric shocks and beatings to extract confessions of membership, wrote Talha Abdulrazaq in his column for the Arab Weekly.

“KRG’s peshmerga fighters in Iraq have been lionised as bastions holding the line for the civilised world against the radical jihadist threat emanating from ISIS” Abdulrazaq said, pointing however to a damning report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) which claims the KRG detained and tortured children they claimed were linked to ISIS.

There is a great deal of information about how various Kurdish factions in Iraq and Syria are at the forefront of the battle against ISIS, Abdulrazaq noted, but little is know about the KRG’s treatment of children.

According the HRW report, the children signed confessions to make the torture stop and were not allowed to read the confessions until they were taken before judges who would convict them based on confessions extracted under torture.

Denied access to lawyers and were ignored by judicial officials when they voiced the torture they were undergoing, the children’s confessions processed as evidence against them, according to HRW, the Arab Weekly columnist wrote.

“Children were beaten with pipes and cables, punched and kicked, forced into stress positions, electrically shocked and burned with cigarettes by Kurdish interrogators. Many of the children were arrested by Kurdish security operatives from camps for the internally displaced. In other words, these children were fleeing ISIS and the Iran-sponsored Shia jihadists battling them,’’ Abdulrazaq highlighted.

Why the Iraqi Kurdish authorities failed to bring those in their security forces to justice for torturing children is not known, the columnist wrote, suggesting that ‘’it is quite possible that they are motivated by a desire to force demographic change over the region by forcing mostly Arab but also Turkmen populations out of areas they wish to claim as part of a future state.’’