Sunday, February 28, 2010
- By Nawshirwan Mustafa
Nawshirwan Mustafa's message on the issue of Kirkuk and the detached areas
Sbay website, 22 Feb 2010
In this message I will explain to you the position and approach of the Change movement on the issue of Kirkuk and the detached areas.
The issue of the detached areas means the issue of Kirkuk, Khanaqin and Mandali, Sinjar and other areas. This is one of the central and principal issues for the Change movement. After the downfall of the regime and the redrafting of the Iraqi Constitution a special article for the resolution of these problems was added, this was article 140. According to this article most of the aims of this clause should have been implemented by the end of 2007 and by now all the associated issues should have been resolved. Now three years have passed since this deadline, not only have no serious steps been taken for the implementation of this article, but also the example that the Kurdish administration did present to these areas was so bad and unjust and corrupt that it has not only alienated the ethnic, racial and faith groups in Kirkuk in particular and in the detached areas in general from the Kurdish people and Kurdistan region but has also caused a great discontent by the Kurdish people too. Instead of taking justice, democracy and freedom to the people of Kirkuk and detached areas, they carried an irresponsible party political conflict to these areas and there they repeated all the mistakes and flaws that once took Kurdistan to internal war and made it weak. Establishing two divided administrative zones, two separate security forces and two decision-making centres recreated the same party political administration in these areas which had existed in Kurdistan and it still exists. In this way the political forces of Kurdistan presented a bad example to these areas which has even angered the Kurds. The Kurdish authorities have not only discriminated between the Kurds and Arabs and Turkomans, but they have also practised discrimination within the Kurdish community itself. The experience of Kurdish two parties [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party] in Kirkuk, Khanqin, Sinjar, and other areas has angered the Kurds more than the Turkomans and Arabs because it is not enough for these two forces to be a Kurd in order to have human rights and deserve a reasonable life. No, you must, in addition to being a Kurd, also belong to one of the parties. Even this is not enough. Within the party you must belong to a certain powerful persons and factions then you will have rights, freedoms and privileges.
It is time now to put an end to this unjust politics. It is time that we all together used our will for the establishment of a new political and administrative system guided by a new mentality based on Kurdistani citizenship and Iraqi citizenship.
In our view the Kurdish administration should have behaved very sensitively towards these areas and has dealt with them with an open democratic plan for comprehensive services because these areas are not like the other areas that interpret the lack of freedoms, justice and services as bad administration only. Every flaw besides being an example of bad administration is also considered as a kind of religious, sectarian or ethnic oppression. In fact, the Kurdish administration has not been able to remove in Kurdistan the feelings of ethnic and religious oppressing that the diverse groups in the region have. The Kurdish administration has not been able to make the Shiites, Ezidis, Turkomans and Arabs feel that the political framework of Kurdistan is theirs too and it equally protects their interests.
In our belief, the issue of these areas cannot be resolved unless we in advance prove to all the peoples in the detached areas that the Kurdish administration of these areas will be a just one and protects the interests of the citizens equally.
Our motive for trying to return Kirkuk, Sinjar and Khanaqin to Kurdistan region is not based on a closed nationalist discourse. But it is based on the returning rights to those who have been deprived of them. We look at the detached areas as a right that has been taken away. This means that our national vision is based on the concept of citizenship and rights of citizenship rather than on extreme nationalism.
We must put an end to that party mentality that offers money and services only to those people and places that belong to them and neglects the other citizens who do not belong to them. The main aim of Change movement is to return to establish and restore respect to the right of citizenship away from any political, ideological and even national, faith and religious considerations. We work for equal rights for the citizens of Kurdistan region and equal share in the wealth and revenues of the region. At this level, when we all our power, try to return Kirkuk and the detached areas to Kurdistan region, we are very keen to work very seriously to reconcile and create a new sold relationship between the different components of these areas. We will work to ensure equal opportunities for work, power, freedom and services for every citizen in these areas irrespective of their ethnic, religious or faith affiliation. We must prove to all the peoples of these areas that their becoming part of Kurdistan region will bring them more freedoms and better services. The issue of the detached areas for us is a big democratic challenge. It is in these areas that real democracy as well as an end to the mentality of party supremacy, which has caused immense political, social and cultural crises to Kurdish society, must be achieved.
Dear citizens and the oppressed Kurdish society,
We are closely aware to what extent our rivals and adversaries circulate hostile propaganda for this new movement. We are aware that the enemies of our movement are prepared even to undermine their own history in order to defile this movement which has been born for you and your interests. They are furious about this movement because it has become the true mirror of your desires and demands. Many of the activists of Change were once holding high party and government positions and posts. They gave up all these just in order not to leave you alone and not to participate in the party supremacy regime that has done immense injustice to thousands of citizens of this country. They gave up everything so that they would be close to you and through this movement become the first trench to defend your rights, demands and aspirations.
We want to establish a new political beginning where we all together away from nepotism, cronyism, and party dividends live under the ceiling of one region and country and establish a new open democratic experience on the basis of citizenship not party affiliation.
If you wish to get rid of irresponsible party officials' mutual interest sharing; if you want to have a country in which we all Kurds, Arabs and Turkoman, Shiite , Christians, Ezidis and Shabak, have equal rights in it; If you want to get rid of the aggression of the parties' secret agencies, and oppression and assaults of party officials and their guards; If you want to put an end to the unequal distribution of wealth; if you want to enjoy your rights without feeling any favour to party leaders and officials; I ask all of you: voters in Kirkuk, voters in Sinjar and detached areas of Nainawa. Voters in Khanaqin, Mandali and detached areas of Diyala, Kurdistani people in the detached areas, Kurdistani people abroad: If you wish to have a country based on equality in the face of law and social justice:
Vote for Change list.
I wish you all success. May God protect you!
22 February 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Friday 12th March 2010
Outside Turkish Embassy
43 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PA (nearest tube Hyde Park Corner)
12th March. 1430-1600.
Please make home made placards and invite friends.
Arab Reform Bulletin
While all Iraqi political factions are competing strongly in lead up to the March 7 parliamentary elections, in Iraqi Kurdistan the internal competition is especially intense. In particular, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK, the more secular and less tribal of the two major Iraqi Kurdish political parties) stands to lose or regain much. The PUK suffered major losses in the July 2009 provincial elections in its main powerbase of Suleimaniyah at the hands of the newly-formed Gorran (Change) list. This has created the perception that the PUK has become a junior partner to the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) in the power-sharing arrangement between the two major factions in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Among the many important implications of the upcoming elections will be a signal as to whether the PUK can bounce back or Gorran is here to stay as a new force in Iraqi politics.
Read the rest of the article on Arab Reform Bulletin website:Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: Revival or Mere Survival?
Crisis in Southern Kurdistan: The beating, kidnapping and imprisonment of journalists by the two dominant political parties
- Organization for Defending Freedom of Press in Kurdistan
To: Amnesty International
Committee to Protect Journalists
Reporters Without Borders
International Press Institute
International Center for Journalists
All civil society organizations and civil federations
Calling all supporters and defenders of rights of journalists- we plead with you, as true humanitarians and defenders of free speech and the rights of intellectuals, journalists and media, to make every effort possible to come to the defense of journalists and objective media outlets in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
The beating, prosecution, imprisonment, torture, oppression and intimidation of journalists have become a daily occurrence in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the last three weeks alone, at least eight journalists have been beaten, tortured or threatened with murder. As many as 200 additional attacks and violations against journalists and independent media outlets were documented between 2008 and 2009. These documented cases include allegations of murder, kidnap, beating, torture, prosecution, imprisonment, removal of position in government and the threat of receiving the death penalty.
Today, in the strongest possible terms, we condemn all violations against journalists, specifically the attack and beating of Hawlati reporters Ara Ibrahim and Soran Ahmed by security forces in Silemani. Hawlati, or “Citizen” (www.hawlati.com), is an independent, privately-owned newspaper, first published on November, 5th 2000. Hawlati was established with the aim of defending freedom of speech, human rights, and promoting the development and enhancement of a democratic society through dialogue.
These tragic beatings, kidnappings and other violations are nothing short of organized crime in its wildest, most inhuman form. They represent a very dangerous step in the wrong direction, raising the real possibility of a return to oppression, civil war, the slaying of innocent men and women and kidnappings. These attacks have lead to a pervasive climate of fear and are, in no uncertain terms, crimes against humanity and gross violations of freedom of speech and are eroding Kurdish democracy, civil society and liberty in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Sadly, behind all of these egregious acts are mafias run by the two dominant Kurdish political parties, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and corrupt officials within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Additionally, the courts and judges seem to be complicit in these crimes by they repeatedly refusing to hear cases against potential violators or simply dismissing them without investigation. Even though it is commonly known who is committing these crimes, there have been no arrests.
Therefore, we are calling on all individuals, groups and international organizations who are dedicated to the defense and preservation of the freedom of speech to intervene on behalf of journalists and independent media outlets in Iraqi Kurdistan and demand an immediate end to and prosecution of the crimes being committed against them by the political party “security force” mafias.
We are now launching an international and universal campaign to protect journalists. It is time for us all to condemn these immoral, inhuman and dictatorial acts against those whose goal is the preservation and promotion of democracy, justice and equality through their objective and independent reporting. Please join us in our campaign to protect journalists and freedom of speech in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Organization for Defending Freedom of Press in Kurdistan
“You have guns, we have pens,” was the message that the Sulaymaniyah-based independent newspaper Hawlati (Citizen) printed on an otherwise blank front page on 24 February in a bold protest against a spate of threats, harassment and physical violence against journalists in Iraqi Kurdistan in the run-up to a parliamentary election on 6 March.
Hawlati’s front page is just one example of the growing protests by Kurdish intellectuals and independent media against abuses by the Kurdish security forces and by the supporters and security forces of the two parties that control the Kurdistan Regional Government – the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The newspaper Awene, Radio Nawa, the television station Kurdish News Network (KNN) and Speda, a TV station that belongs to the opposition Kurdish Islamic Union (Yekgirtu), issued a joint statement on 23 February condemning the recent violations of free expression and media freedom in Kurdistan.
Asos Hardi, Awene’s founder and head of the company that publishes it, said: “The authorities do not stop talking about freedom of expression, constantly boasting of the media’s independence. But these words are meaningless. In practice, the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan do not believe in freedom of expression.” Hardi won the 2009 Gebran Tueni Prize for the defence of press freedom, which is awarded by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA).
Anwar Bazgr, the head of a press freedom defence committee formed by the Union of Kurdistan Journalists, has also condemned the recent attacks and has called on political parties to respect a law protecting journalists that was passed by Kurdistan’s parliament.
Hawlati editor Kamal Rauf told Reporters Without Borders: “I called Kurdistan’s prime minister, Dr. Barham Salih, to talk about the recent incidents involving journalists. He told me he was going to request an investigation.”
In a Hawlati editorial about the abuses, Rauf appealed directly to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani: “As free and independent journalists, we have improved the media’s level of impartiality and independence in the reader’s interests but now the security forces are attacking us and beating us without reason.”
The PUK’s own security forces, which are regarded as illegal, are alleged to have been responsible for most of the attacks on journalists in Sulaymaniyah since the start of the election campaign.
Some, but by no means all, of the press freedom violations of the past week are summarised below:
Security forces attacked and beat Hawlati reporter Soran Ahmed in Sulaymaniyah at 7:50 p.m. on 20 February, seized his mobile phone and camera and shut him in the boot of a car for more than half an hour. He got his phone and camera back when he was freed, but the data on both of them had been erased.
Two Speda television journalists were attacked in Erbil on 19 February.
Ara Ibrahim, the publisher of Hawlati, and Saman Majid of the magazine Livin and the TV stationGorran (Change) were attacked by security forces in Sulaymaniyah while covering the election campaign on the evening of 18 February.
“We were taking photos in Sahollaka Street, especially of a man who had been injured by members of the security forces, when individuals in civilian dress ordered us to stop, saying they were authorised by the PUK to confiscate our cameras,” Ibrahim told Reporters Without Borders. “One of them managed to take my camera. Then he began hitting him and insulting me. Saman managed to get away.”
Ibrahim, who still has not got his camera back, is the third Hawlati journalist to be attacked in Sulaymaniyah. An independent biweekly, Hawlati (www.hawlati.com) was founded in November 2000 with the aim of defending free expression, reinforcing civil society and helping the development of democratic debate.
Dawoud Baghstani, the editor of the magazine Israel-Kurd (www.israelkurd.com), who is also a local political figure and a member of Kurdistan’s Jewish minority, was attacked in a restaurant in Erbil on 18 February.
“I was invited to dine in a restaurant in the city’s Ankawa neighbourhood,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “After my arrival, I was attacked by the bodyguards of Dr. Nuri Othman, the head of the Kurdistan cabinet’s secretariat, who was also there. There were about 25 soldiers at the restaurant. They tried to scare me. It was clearly linked to my recent criticism of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Othman disputes this version of the incident, claiming that his bodyguards just defended him. “I was in a restaurant with foreign journalists,” he told Awene. “Dawoud Baghstani was also there. He brandished his pistol and insulted me and Iraqi Kurdistan. I just asked by bodyguards to disarm him.”
Baghstani said he intended to bring a complaint against Othman. “Masoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan, must investigate what happened,” he said. “I will file a complaint although I am sure the courts will support him.
He added: “The KDP and PUK do anything they want against journalists, who are the victims of frequent attacks and cannot work freely. Democracy and free expression are in danger in Kurdistan. International organisations must act to put an end to this harassment of independent journalists, otherwise we risk going back to the darkest years of Baathism.”
Shaswar Mama of Sbeiy.com (www.sbeiy.com), the official website of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), was attacked by PUK and KDP supporters in the city of Raniya as he and KNN reporterKarwan Anwar were taking photos in the city’s market on 18 February.
A Hawlati photographer had already been attacked there on 16 February, when his camera was broken and his photos were erased.
Adnan Othman, a former Hawlati editor who is now an MDC parliamentary representative and editor ofRojname, a newspaper that supports the MDC, has received many death threats by email and SMS. He was also insulted by KDP and PUK supporters after he referred to the security forces that had attacked MDC supporters as illegal and called them “militias.”
Responding to these comments in a speech at the opening of a students’ conference in Erbil on 24 February, Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani said: “There is no place in Kurdistan for those who say that the province’s security forces are militias. I see nothing to stop me from acting against these people.”