Friday, February 19, 2010

Confrontations between Change and Security Forces in Sulaymaniyah

London ( 18 February 2010: The Arabic daily al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that bloody clashes occurred between Change Movement advocates and security forces in Sulaymaniyah during campaign rallies in the city for the upcoming Iraqi elections in March 7th, 2010. Sources in Sulaymaniyah informed that three people were injured and a number of others were arrested.

According to al-Sharq al-Awsat, a parliamentarian from the Change Movement demanded KRG leaders to intervene to contain tension in Sulaymaniyah as a result of what he described as “harassments” against the advocates of the movement.

Nariman abdul-Qader, an MP from the Change List and a member of the Security Committee in the KRG parliament told al-Sarq al-Awsat that the level of violations is escalating everyday, since the start of the campaign everyday. He said that the those violations include threats on lives, cut of food ration, arbitrary arrests, shredding banners belonging to Change Movement, the use of government building for elections campaign and gun firing at Change offices.

Zana Mohammad Salih, the chairperson of the Security Committee in Sulaymaniyah, stated at a press conference that “the committee will transfer the detainees to a court to handle the matter appropriately.” According to al-Sharq al-Awsat, Mr. Zana said that “unidentified opened fire at a PUK,” and denied the involvement of the anti-terror force of PUK in these confrontations. He said the force that interfered was Operations Force of the Sulaymaniyah Directorate of Security.

But Muhamad Tawfiq, the spokesperson of the Change Movement told al-Sarq al-Awsat that anti-terrorism force, which is led by the nephew of the Iraqi President Jala Talbani intervened in the confrontations. He asked “why would such a force be involved in campaign rallies? Are elections campaigns considered terrorism?”

Meanwhile, sources in Kurdistan informed that a delegation from the US embassy led by Alan Misenheimer visited Kurdistan and met with multiple Kurdish parties to ensure a safe environment for the elections campaign.