Maxmur camp has been targeted by the Iraqi state after the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), as a
result of the impositions of the Turkish state. The Iraqi state wants to surround the camp with
hundreds of soldiers, police and gendarmes, military and bulldozers, and to surround the Ertus
refugee camp with wire fences. The Turkish and Iraqi states and the KDP, in accordance with their
agreements, have been increasing military and political pressure on Sengal and Makmur, where the
Yazidis first attacked ISIS. While the Turkish state is bombing civilian areas in Sengal and Makmur with
drones, unmanned aerial vehicles and military planes, the Iraqi state has been imposing an embargo
since July 17, 2019; they want to isolate the northern Iraqi Kurdish region and Iraq in general by
encircling both Sengal and Makmur with hundreds of soldiers, police and gendarmes they have been
deploying to Makmur since May 20. The most important characteristic of both regions is that they are
both Kurdish and were among the first areas to be overrun by Isis in 2014. In both areas, when ISIS
attacked, the KDP peshmerga withdrew, leaving the civilian population defenseless. Another
peculiarity of the two regions is that Sengal is not of the same religion as the Yazidi regional states
and forces, they are a minority, and Makhmurunda refused to accept the pressure of the Turkish state
and left their villages and governed their municipalities democratically.
Since the mid-1990s, the Turkish state has been in a state of constant aggression against these
civilians who migrated from south-eastern Anatolia. Finding it insufficient that they have been forced
to flee into their own bays, it has been creating provocations whenever it has the opportunity
through its national intelligence organization and bombing targeted houses and vehicles with
unmanned aerial vehicles. Until recently, the Iraqi state has remained silent in the face of the Turkish
state’s attacks, while on the other hand it has not launched a serious attack against the Makhmur
refugee camp. Although the Iraqi forces state that they have “put up fences to ensure the safety of
the Makhmur residents”, in essence they are isolating them from Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq and
opening the door to attacks by the Turkish state. Makhmur has been experiencing serious problems
due to the embargo imposed by the KDP since July 17, 2019, due to the most basic human rights such
as food supply, meeting vital needs and health problems. After this latest approach by the Iraqi army,
their conditions will deteriorate even more.
Makmour camp is located 60 kilometers south-west of Erbil. It is named after the village of
Makhmour. Since 1998, it has been recognized as a refugee camp by the United Nations. In
1993.1994, the Turkish army launched a massive crackdown on the population, alleging that they
were aiding the PKK. Under the so-called “drain the sea to cut off support for the PKK” policy, some
4,000 settlements were burned and some people were disappeared by unknown assailants. The rest
of the people in this region who wanted to live their language and culture were forcibly militarized,
told to take up arms against the PKK or leave the region. Because of this, people from this region fled
to northern Iraq. Today their population is around 13 thousand. The people who migrated here have
established their own lives here. They try to live their culture and language with their own systems,
and some of them work as small shopkeepers. Since the 1990s, they have been threatened by the
Turkish state because the people of Makhmur refused to take up arms and emigrated. While the Iraqi
state has sometimes remained silent in the face of military attacks by the Turkish state, after the
Turkish state’s attack on Arab tourists on July 21, 2022, the Iraqi state stepped up its repression
against the people of Makhmour. While the Iraqi state has occasionally condemned the attacks by the
Turkish state on the grounds of “violation of Iraqi airspace”, it has generally remained silent. Most
recently, it brought the July 2022 attack on Zakho to the attention of the United Nations, and
condemned the bombing of the Makhmur camp by Turkish warplanes on February 1, 2023. However,
in the international arena, Turkey does not enforce the law against the aggressive policies of the
Turkish state towards the Kurds. On the contrary, it seeks to isolate the Kurdish refugees in Makhmur
and the people of Sengal through repression. It is the duty of the Iraqi state to protect from danger
those who seek refuge and come to its country to secure their lives, and to provide them with the
best possible living conditions. According to Article 1 of the United Nations, 1951, the 1954
Protection of Refugees and the 1980 UNMIK resolutions, Iraq is obliged to protect Kurdish refugees.
The Iraqi state’s approach to Makmur is not to protect them and secure their lives, but to coerce
them into submission to the Turkish state’s attacks. According to official statements, since 2016, the
Turkish state has attacked Makmur 17 times with unmanned aerial vehicles. These attacks were
responded to by Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on January 18, 2021, The meetings of Chief of
General Staff Yasar Guler with the Iraqi interior and defense ministers and the meetings of KDP
honorary chairman Massoud Barzani and regional prime minister Najirvan Barzani in Erbil, the capital
of the Kurdistan Regional Government, on January 19, 2021, led to an escalation of the KDP and Iraqi
state’s embargo and isolation of the refugees in Makhmur. Since the mid-1990s, the Turkish state has
attempted provocations and aerial bombardments on several occasions. A look at the attacks on
civilian settlements by unmanned aerial vehicles and drones over the last few years will show the
extent of the crimes committed by the Turkish state and the silence of the KDP and the Iraqi state.
December 2017: Turkish warplanes bombed the Mexmur Refugee Camp. 5 people were killed in the
December 13, 2018: Turkish warplanes bombed Mexmur Refugee Camp. Asya Ali Mihemed, 73, her
daughter Narinç Farhan Qasim, 26, her granddaughter Evin Kawa Mahmud, 14, and Eylem Mihemed
Emer, 23, died in the attack.
July 18, 2019: Two people were injured when Turkish warplanes bombed the camp.
April 15, 2020: 3 young women died as a result of attacks by Turkish drones.
June 15, 2020: Turkish warplanes bombed Mexmur Camp and the area around Qereçox Mountain.
May 5, 2021: The Turkish state attacked Mexmur Camp with drones.
June 5, 2021: 3 migrants lost their lives in a Turkish air force attack on Mexmur. U.S. Ambassador to
the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the attack on the Maxmur refugee camp in Iraq
violated international and humanitarian law, expressed concern about the violence near the camp,
and called on all sides to respect the rights of refugees.
3 September 2021: The Turkish state bombed the camp center with UCAVs. A woman and a child
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February 1, 2022: The Turkish state bombed the camp with UCAVs. Eight people were killed and
dozens were injured.
May 21, 2022: The Turkish state bombed a vehicle in the camp with UCAVs. As a result, a shepherd
named Haji Mirza Ali, who was on his way to his garden, was killed.
July 5, 2022: The delegation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Army, including the Commander
of Joint Operations, the Commander of Joint Forces and several commanders of different ranks, the
Turkish Armed Forces and drones visited Makhmur. The state targeted a house in Makhmur camp. As
a result, a woman was injured and a large number of people were affected by the bombing.
July 5, 2022: While the delegation of the General Commander of the Iraqi Army, the Joint Operations
Commander, the Commander of the Joint Forces and a number of commanders of different ranks
visited Makhmour, the Turkish state targeted a house in Makhmour camp with its drones and armed
aircraft. A woman was injured and many others were affected by the bombardment.
August 29, 2022: The Turkish state attacked the camp with UCAVs. A citizen named Ebûzêd Abdulla
Ubeyd, father of 6 children, was killed in the attack.
The above is just a few attacks in chronological order. What needs to be evaluated is not the attacks
by the Turkish state, but the fact that Iraq and the KDP, which is in power in the Northern Iraq
Regional Government, which should have secured the lives of the people living in Makhmur, which
has the status of United Nations refugees, have made the living conditions of the refugees even more
difficult and provided the ground for the attacks. The Iraqi state has turned the refugees in Makhmur
into an open prison by isolating them from the rest of Iraq and surrounding them with wire fences,
which is contrary to human rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Refugees.
The Center for Kurdish Human Rights calls on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human
Rights to urge the Iraqi state to respect the rights of the refugees in Makhmur, to stop the provocative
and unmanned aerial attacks by the Turkish state, and for the Turkish state to abide by international
law and human rights in order to protect the rights of the refugees in Makhmur; We demand that the
Kurdish refugees in Makhmur move freely and freely; that all attempts to threaten the lives of the
refugees be stopped; that the Iraqi state abandon its policy of isolating and isolating the refugees in
Makhmur with wire fences and take steps to protect the life and human rights of the refugees.
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Kurdish Center for Human Rights
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