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Voices from Iraq


BBC News Online spoke to six Iraqis about their lives, fears and hopes.

Maysoon Nejhat Shukri, a member of Iraq's Turkmen minority, fled Iraq in 1988 when her father was killed. She believes her father, an army general, was executed by the government. She worked as a teacher in her home town of Kirkuk, in northern Iraq. She now runs her own hair salon in London.

While I don't want a war in Iraq because of what it will do to the people, all I want is for the regime to be changed. I want freedom in Iraq.

Whatever anybody wants in the country, they should be able to have. If they want a house, they should be able to have it in their name.

Iraq’s ethnic groups:
  • Arab: 72%
  • Kurdish: 18%
  • Turkmen, Assyrian or other: 5%
  • What they did in Iraq, especially in Kirkuk, is that they paid Arab people lots of money to move there, and they took Turkmen people from Kirkuk to the south of Iraq. They took all our houses and everything from us and they brought the Arab people from the south to live in Kirkuk.

    People in the Turkmen community are willing to pay with their lives for regime change. Everybody has lost one or two people from their household. But we are the quiet nationality in the country, we like peace.

    I do still have some family in Iraq, but to be honest, we cannot talk on the phone or anything like that, because the security people listen in on the phone lines. I am worried about their safety.

    Going home

    Thinking about going back isn't that easy. Everything has changed. We have no freedom. Here I can speak my language. If I have another baby, I want to give it a Turkmen name. In Iraq I wouldn't be able to.

    Everybody would like to go back to their own country, because that's where you were born, where you've grown up. I do miss my city. I'd love to see it, to see the university, to see my family, to see the house we used to live in.

    People think Iraq is a stupid country, that there's always war and that it's a very poor country. But it's the complete opposite
    Lots of countries, and lots of Iraqis, are thinking about Kirkuk, because there's so much oil there. Kurdish people are thinking of the city because of the oil. They have been saying that Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan, and I don't think that is right. Kirkuk has always been the home of the Turkmen people.

    It has affected my life since everyone started talking about war. Sometimes I feel a little bit embarrassed, with all the journalists talking about Iraq. People think Iraq is a stupid country, that there's always war and that it's a very poor country. But it's the complete opposite. It was one of the richest countries in the Arab world.

    I want to try my best to talk to people, to explain to people. They think that Iraq is just a problem in the world, but that's the regime, it's not the people.

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