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Doctor's fears for his peaceful people; He fled Iraq after torture.

Byline: By EXAMINER News Correspondent editorial@examiner

A DOCTOR who was kidnapped and tortured in Iraq wants more protection for his vulnerable community.

But he says his pleas are falling on deaf ears and no-one is listening to his fears.

Dr Ahmed Naser lives in Berry Brow and is seeking asylum after fleeing the Middle East last year.

He is a member of the Shabak community, a 400,000-strong group who live around Mosul in northern Iraq.

Dr Naser, whose brother was killed in a bombing, said: "We are peaceful, hard-working people and we only want to live in harmony with other people."

The Shabak are distinct from both Kurds and Arabs as they have their own language, Shabaki.

Dr Naser, 37, said: "We were oppressed during the time of Saddam Hussein. Our language was not recognised nor taught in schools. We didn't dare to ask for our rights."

Dr Naser hoped the US invasion in 2003 would improve the position of the Shabak.

He said: "We hoped that life would be better and we could forget all the years of oppression and war."

But Dr Naser said the situation actually got worse.

"At least before the war we weren't being randomly killed," he said. "At least we had some sort of protection."

The Shabak, most of whom are Shia Muslims, soon came under attack in central Mosul from Sunni insurgents linked to al Qaida terrorists.

Dr Naser said: "When the Sunni hear the word Shabak they just think 'he is Shia so he must be killed and his house destroyed'."

He was kidnapped in October, 2006, after he told the authorities that one of his medical colleagues supported the insurgency.

Dr Naser said: "I was driving home from the hospital when four men with AK-47s stopped me and took me away to a barn."

The kidnappers held him for eight days and tortured him, perforating both his eardrums with a wire. Dr Naser was released after agreeing to pay a EUR30,000 ransom.

But he was lucky to survive.

Dr Naser said: "If they had known I was a Shia they would have killed me. I converted from being a Sunni in 1992, so I know everything about the religion. I was able to convince the kidnappers that I was a Sunni."

After he was released Dr Naser fled to his home village of Baswaya about 10 miles from Mosul. But the area is now controlled by Kurdish militia.

He said: "They intimidate us. If there is a dispute between a Kurd and a Shabak the Shabak will be arrested, beaten and tortured."

Abomb attack in 2006 killed his brother, Kane, and left his other brother, Natk, in a wheelchair.

Fearing for his life Dr Naser fled to England in April last year. He was moved to Berry Brow three months later.

Dr Naser volunteers as an Arabic interpreter at Kirklees Refugees and Friends Together on Manchester Road. He is applying for asylum.

Dr Naser said: "When you're an asylum seeker it's like you live in a big prison. But I like England. I hope one day we can have such a stable and safe life in Iraq as you have here."

Dr Naser, who is a member of the Democratic Shabak Assembly, is concerned about the welfare of the Shabaks in Iraq.

He said: "No-one talks about us in the media because we're not violent."


FEARFUL: Ahmed Naser, who is worried about the oppression of the Shabak people in northern Iraq
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Aug 2, 2008
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