Monday, February 22, 2010

Suleimaniya witnesses clash as Election campaign starts in Kurdistan

Supporters of the Kurdish Change List rally ahead of regional elections for local parliament in three provinces in Suleimaniyah, July 22, 2009. AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed

The Kurdish Globe

The security forces were the first opened fire on the campaigners and a number of them fell wounded.

A number of people were wounded after gunshots and another group was arrested by security forces after midnight on February 17 in Suleimaniya. 

Competing lists in the city interpret the occurrence with harsh accusation tones. 

Goran (Change) list officials say their supporters have been shot by security forces while celebrating in favor of their list. Meanwhile, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) officials reply the accusation and add that their office in Suleimaniya was attacked by Goran supporters. 

Goran, led by Nawshiran Mustafa, is a wing which has split from the PUK of the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani nearly two years ago. Supporters from both lists rush into streets in car convoys colored with posters and flags to show their loyalty to the lists. This routine first appeared in the Kurdistan Parliamentary July election. 

"During the last days, people enthusiastically and with enjoying absolute freedom go out into the streets expressing their happiness and support for the different lists," says Zana Hama Salih, spokesman of the Suleimaniya Province Security Committee. 

With describing the period of the election campaign as "a sensitive stage," Hama Salih announced that a number of irresponsible people step in the public gatherings and "start offending supporters of the political lists; this sometimes is drawn into violence and quarrel." 

His statement comes during a press conference following a clash between campaigners and security elements in front of the PUK office in the Salim Street Suleimaniya. He announced of arresting eleven people in the place of the clash noting that the outlawed ones are submitted to court without considering to which list they belong. 

Meanwhile, He called on the Kurdistan lists and their supporters to help in protecting the situations in Suleimaniya city. 

A Goran member of the Kurdistan Parliament, Sherzad Hafiz informed that that the security forces were the first opened fire on the campaigners and a number of them fell wounded. The security took the wounded ones out of hospital, he reported to Sbeiy, Goran's mouth speaker website. He also announced six of the detainees are already released noting that they were exposed to tortures. 

Relevantly, PUK Suleimaniya Office published a statement to express their view of the story. 

"Armed people driving two cars passing through Salim Street and in front of the PUK Suleimaniya Office opened fire to the office and to the supporters," says the statement and adds that the security shot them back. 

"At the place of the incident, three of them, a car, unlicensed gun and explosives were seized. The rest of the shooters flee away and the asayish (security) forces were able to arrest them later," says the statement adding that the arrested people were supporters from the Goran list. 

Goran list was able to win 25 of the Kurdistan Region Parliament's 111 seats in the regional parliamentary elections last July. Allying the Kurdistan Democratic Party led by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani together won 59 seats and formed the regional government.