By Dr Mohammad Kayani and Mr Amin Mineh
The Rt. Honorable Mr. Gordon Brown MP, the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Dear Prime Minister
On July the 25th 2009, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan voted in a general election for the presidential and parliamentary candidates. This was the third parliamentary election since the establishment of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in in a part of the Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, which comprises of Erbil, Sulaimaniyah and Duhok provinces.
The Kurdish people had high hopes. For the first time, they had a chance to elect their legitimate President and Parliamentary representatives in a clean, free and fair elections as were promised by Mr. Masuad Barzani, the current President of the Kurdistan Region and Mr. Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi President but to the great disappointment of most of the people they did not live up to their promises. Their Kurdistani electoral list, Mr. Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Mr. Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) alliance, resorted to wide spread, centralized, systematic, electoral frauds. These included vote rigging, intimidating voters in various ways, organizing voting groups using special voting forms which allowed them to turn in to as many polling stations as time allowed them to cast their vote repeatedly. Their Militia forces, police and securities personnel voted twice or even more. In a lot of polling stations, the contestant parties’ representatives and independent observers were denied presence and in other places they were intimidated and even physically abused along with many other electoral irregularity procedures. They also forced the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to extend the voting time by one hour despite not being necessary and refused by the other contestant electoral lists, during which most of the vote rigging took place in Erbil and Duhok provinces, where the turnout of voters was low. In addition to that, there are concerns about the conduct, impartiality and professionalism of the IHEC, the body that oversees all elections in Iraq. In this election all of the IHEC operational staff were members of the KDP and PUK and a lot of them facilitated and practiced electoral frauds and vote rigging. Some estimates quoted as many as bogus votes were casted out of million actual voters, of whom the turnout was 75%, including those fraudulent votes which are estimated to comprise more than 20% of it.
Moreover, Mr. Barzani’s Chief of Staff preempted everybody. He released the initial electoral results and announced Mr. Barzani’s and their Kurdistani list’s victories three days before the IHEC released their official results. They exercised this manoeuvre as a warning shot to the contestant lists, who have lodged many complaints, in order not to resort to public expression of their anger and frustrations in case the IHEC, the head of which is a high ranking KDP member, announce the final result without paying enough attention to their complaints. A few hours after Mr. Barzani’s and his list’s victories were announced, hundreds of his militia members, special forces and KDP party activists gathered in front of the offices of Gorran (Change) list and its KNN TV stations, Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) Headquarters and the office of the Head of the Islamic Group in the Capital city of Erbil shooting at these premises, abusive to their occupants and even raided some of the offices of Gorran (Change) list and KNN TV station in Erbil, looting their contents and physically attacking the staff. These kinds of behaviors are adopted throughout entire territories of Erbil and Duhok provinces against activists of the Service and Reform List and the Change List, some of its activists were forced to leave their homes.
Once again Kurdish people have been robbed of another opportunity to elect their president, whoever it would have been, and their legislative representatives through the ballet boxes in a transparent, clean, free and fair election. The KRG is ridden by corruption from the top to the bottom, which has resulted in a huge disharmony between the few rich and the majority poor people. All these together with the recent denial of the democratic opportunities for people to exercise their rights to chose their leaders in a free and fair election will further deepen the existing social, economic and political problems in the Kurdistan region and would lead to civil unrest, chaos and even violence confrontations that certainly would have unwonted repercussions throughout Iraq, its neighborhood and worldwide.
Mr. Prime Minister, we are, as members of the Kurdish community in the United Kingdom, deeply affected by these electoral frauds, violations of human rights and abuse of power by the KRG and its party’s militias. Therefore, we ask you to use your good office and influence;
- to urge the Iraqi Federal government, specifically Mr. Nuri Al-Manlike, the Prime Minister, and Mr. Talabani, the Iraqi President and head of the PUK, and the Kurdistan Region’s present President Mr. Barzani, head of KDP, whose militia is the main the perpetrators of these human rights violations, to put an immediate end to the these current abusive provocative behaviors and malpractices and bring those responsible to justice.
- to urge the IHEC and Kurdish leadership and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to appoint a genuinely independent body to investigate the complaints of the election frauds and irregularities. This body should have the authority to make proper recommendations according to the result of their inquiries, even if it decides for a fresh reelection to be rerun in the disputed areas of Erbil and Duhok, and all parties should adhere to their recommendation
- to urge the Iraqi government to establish an truly Independent High Electoral Commission to oversees future elections in Iraq and the Kurdistan Federal region. Whose members must comprise of independent, fair-minded individuals with high integrity and are not under influence of political parties, on contrary of the present one, whose members are belonging to the main influential political parties.
Please accept our sincere regards
On behalf of the participants
Dr Mohammad Kayani and Mr Amin Mineh