North Iraq (AINA) -- Armed Kurdish men, mostly belonging to the Zebari tribe, attacked the Assyrian village of Rabatki on Thursday at 18:00 local time in Northern Iraq. The motive behind the attack was to forcefully claim parts of the village.
When the villagers realized that the large truck filled with construction material and bricks approaching their village was an attempt by the Kurds to forcefully erect a house on their lands, they quickly formed a road block using their cars, effectively blocking the truck from entering the village. The move angered the Kurds, who then left only to come back less than one hour later, at 18:00 with seven cars full of Kurdish men armed with Kalashnikovs and other weapons.
A fight broke out between the male inhabitants of the village and the attackers and several rounds were shot in the air by the Kurds to try to scare the villagers. The village chief, Mr Zaya Barcam Khoshaba, was beaten in the face by one of the attackers with the side of the kalashnikov. The attack stopped only when police were called to the area.
The village of Rabatki lies in the district of Aqra in the Dohuk province. The village, which has never had any Kurdish inhabitants, has been fending off land grab attempts since the early 1990s. The Kurds living in the area belong to the powerful Zebari clan, with their most known clan member being Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's current foreign minister and a prominent member of the Kurdish political elite.
The first court ruling concerning the ownership of the village and its lands came in 1992. The verdict stated that the village and its lands belong to its Assyrian inhabitants. The Kurds would not accept the outcome of the civil process and continued to file complaints, which they continued to lose. The problem pressed on even after the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein. In 2006 the American Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Dohuk investigated the ownership issue after Kurdish complaints only to conclude what former court cases had found more than a decade earlier -- the Kurds did not have any valid ownership claims over the village and its lands.
Assyrians, who are the indigenous people of Northern Iraq, have been subjected to massive land grabs and discrimination by the Kurdish political establishment, headed by Masoud Barazani and his Kurdistan Democratic Party. Dozens of Assyrian villages in Northern Iraq are either partly or entirely occupied by Kurds.