Severe Violations of Rights of Disabled People in Iraqi Kurdistan

Severe Violations of Rights of Disabled People in Iraqi Kurdistan

Through recent reports from the Institute of Kurds with disabilities in Sweden, the situation for disabled persons within the Iraqi Kurdistan illustrates a grisly and an outright inhumane treatment of these people with their basic human rights being grossly violated.

In Kurdistan, there are up to 100 thousand people with various types of disabilities. Kurdistan is a part of Iraq, Kurds have their own parliament, regional government and authorities for the past nearly 25 years. Although the region is rich, people with different types of disabilities live in misery and pain. Iraq as a country and Kurdistan, as a part of it, has ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities but people with disabilities are living in horrible conditions.

Most of them live on charity and often stand outside the labour market and live by begging on the streets and squares. People with disabilities are not treated well in society. Children, youth and adults with various types of disabilities are often subjected to bullying, harassment and discrimination. Individuals with mental and intellectual impairments can be tied with chains at home and be stripped of all their human rights and dignities. People in general and the poor in particular are not aware of how to behave and treat people with disabilities.

The authorities have showed reluctance in taking actions or making plans towards this issue. The Kurdish government is disqualified in regard to many articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Persons with disabilities. The state and the Kurdish parliament have so far been passive in taking measures when human rights for disabled people are repeatedly violated by society and families.

To illustrate the situation on a more personal note, are herewith two cases of recent violation of individual freedom and human rights.

The first case is about a man of 32 years of age. He has a type of intellectual and mental disorder, and cannot talk. He is an orphan and lives with his brother who tied him with a chain on his neck and put him in a small room outside the family’s home for three years. His excuse is that he works and cannot take care of his brother anymore because he has become aggressive and fights. Therefore, the family has chosen to tie him with the chains.

The second case is of a young girl with tied hands with chains at home. She is deaf, cannot speak and is mentally ill. Her father has tied her firmly because she is aggressive and fights.

The misery and suffering for these two young people, together with countless others disabled people who face severe discrimination, are continuing and authorities have shown unwillingness to intervene. There is an urgent need to increase public awareness towards the issues concerning people with different types of disabilities to put pressure on the Kurdish authority to be responsible towards its own citizens.

Website of the Institute of Kurds with disabilities in Sweden:

You can contact the Institute’s Chairperson, Farhad Jahanmahan, at

Photo: Iraqi disabled people being locked

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