KIRKUK, Iraq (April 23, 2008) - One hundred twenty-two detainees were released April 21 in the Ta’Mim Province of northeastern Iraq. The detainees were released as part of national reconciliation efforts. This is the largest single detainee release to date in the region.
"This is a victory for the national and provincial judges across multiple provinces who are working together to find solutions in an effort to help bring an end to the fighting and establishing peace and stability to the region," said Col. David Paschal, 1st Brigade, 10th Mountain Division commander.
More than 400 family members attended the ceremony at the Kirkuk Police Academy. Many local and provincial leaders also attended this ceremony. Iraq’s Rule of Law Judges Nauman and Farouk, who were responsible for initiating, reviewing and determining the release of the detainees, also attended.
Kirkuk Provincial Director of Police, Gen. Thaker, urged the detainees to take this opportunity to better themselves, re-join society and to ask God and their families for forgiveness.
"There are no second chances," Provincial Gov. Abdulrahman Mustafa Feta-eh said.
The 122 men were reminded their freedom was due to the efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces, the Coalition forces and the Government of Iraq working together.
"The fighting must stop. Reconciliation begins now," Col. David Paschal said. The ceremony concluded with tearful reunions between family members, many embracing, singing and dancing.