Steve Fainaru and Anthony Shadid's June 15 front-page article, "Kurdish Officials Sanction Abductions in Kirkuk," accused Iraqi Kurdish leaders of ordering and condoning extra- judicial abduction, arbitrary detention and torture. The Kurdistan Regional Government categorically denies any involvement in these practices.
Counterterrorism operations in Kirkuk are the responsibility of local Iraqi security officials in coordination with the Iraqi interior and defense ministries and the Multi-National Forces (MNF). We were asked by Iraqi authorities and the MNF to help transfer detainees from Kirkuk to Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, and when we were asked to return them, we did so immediately. Within our jurisdiction we similarly coordinate with Iraqi federal ministries and the MNF.
The detention of suspected terrorists and those suspected of aiding and abetting them is a critical element in our fight against terrorism. We pledge full cooperation with investigations of human rights violations that may have occurred within our jurisdiction. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been functioning in Iraqi Kurdistan since 1991 and has full access to detainees.
The leadership of the Kurdistan Regional Government is committed to a free, federal, pluralistic and democratic Iraq that fully respects human rights. We are not and will not be party to any actions that undermine these principles. We will continue to work with our fellow Iraqis to ensure that human rights are respected in Kirkuk and throughout Iraq.
FALAH M. BAKIR
Minister of State
Kurdistan Regional Government
Irbil, Kurdistan, Iraq