An organization based in the Netherlands that advocates on behalf of Iraq's Turkmen minority population has called for the release of two detainees, one held by US forces and the other in Kurdish custody.
The Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation, known by the Dutch acronym SOITM, has called on Kurdish and US authorities to release Lokmen Najem Ahmad, and Yashar A. Mahmud, respectively, in statements issued on its website.
Ahmad, described as 40 years of age, was reportedly detained in July 2007 on the Iraqi-Turkish border by the Asayish, as the intelligence forces of the autonomous Kurdistan region of northern Iraq are known, and is said by SOITM to be held in the al-Zarga prison in Iraq's Dahuk Province. According to the pro-Turkmen advocacy group, Ahmad's family were told that the detainee is accused of espionage on behalf of Turkey and of killing a Kurdish citizen of Iraq. SOITM says that the allegations relate to a skirmish that took place at a government building in the city of al-Rashidiya, outside Mosul, during the security breakdown in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion in which two Iraqi Kurds and an Iraqi Arab and Iraqi Turkmen were killed. Ahmad, a local official with the Iraqi Turkmen Front, was reportedly apprehended by Kurdish forces on the Iraqi-Turkish border in July 2007 as he was heading across the border with a delegation to a conference in Ankara. According to SOITM, Ahmad's family claims that he was not present in al-Rashidiya on the date of the alleged killing.
Meanwhile, SOITM calls for US forces to release the 52-year-old Yashar Mahmod, said to be an Iraqi Turkmen Front official in the city of Talafar. SOITM claims that Mahmod was invited by Iraqi military officials to attend a meeting at the Tumarat military camp, north of Talafar, and was detained by American forces after the gathering.
SOITM, in its statements, maintains that the detention of the two men is illegitimate and arbitray, alleging that their captors lack the necessary documents to justify keeping them in custody.
Click the links above to see full text of the statements on the SOITM website.
The Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation, is known in Dutch as "Stichting Onderzoekcentrum Iraaks Turkmeense Mensenrechten," hence SOITM in short.