A fair referendum for Kurdistan

Submitted by Matthew on 26 July, 2017 - 7:42 Author: Worker-Communist Party of Kurdistan

A referendum is going to be held on 25 September within the Kurdish region of Iraq and the Kurdish populated areas outside the administrative authority of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Conducting a referendum for the “right of nations to self-determination” is one of the Articles of the UN 1948 Treaty. Thus, every group of people facing social injustice, discrimination, national oppression have the right to organise and hold a referendum to politically solve these problems. The people of Kurdistan in Iraq have confronted persecution, discrimination, war instability, oppression, marginalisation, chemical attacks and displacement at the hands of different Iraqi regimes for decades. In the constitutions of those regimes, the people of Kurdistan were always considered to be second-class citizens.

Due to their national identity, the people of Kurdistan have always lived in social and political instability, subjected to nationalist hatred to an extent that the Kurdish issue has become a problem and an incurable wound on the body of Iraqi society. Following the first Gulf war of 1991, an uprising of people of Kurdistan and the barbaric attack by Saddam's regime forced the United Nations (UN) to set up a no-fly zone to create a safe haven for the people of Kurdistan. They ran a project under the name of protecting the people of Kurdistan from the Ba'ath Regime. Thus, the identity of being a state was literally taken away from the people of Kurdistan. Kurdistan was turned into a camp for displaced people waiting for international help and “Oil-for-Food."

Kurdistan remained a stateless land; it was not recognised as a state and it was also not a part of any other state. In these circumstance, a civil war was carried on between the Kurdish nationalist parties and Islamists which lasted several years, between the PUK, PDK (or KDP) and Islamist forces. Thousands of people died and were forced to leave their homes. Kurdistan was divided into Green (PUK) and yellow (KDP) zones. These militia forces controlled the lives of every individual in Kurdistan. A caricature government and parliament was established.

Their agendas were against the wishes of the citizens in Kurdistan. They created disastrous economic conditions leading to financial crisis, social chaos, corruption and a devastated society. They plundered the wealth and earnings of the people, violated human rights and tens of other catastrophic actions right in front of the international bodies and the UN. After the collapse of the Baath regime, the national oppression of the Kurdish people was lifted but the national question has not yet been resolved, especially while Kurdistan was once more attached to Iraq under the banner of national federalism against the will of Kurdish people.

They were given a nationalist and Islamic identity, enshrined in the Iraqi constitution, instead of being based on equal citizenship separated people by nationality. This has not made it easier for the people to live together, rather it has created an everlasting nationalist sectarian war. The conflicts between central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Federalism, article 140, Peshmerga, oil and gas budget, and allocating political posts have led to tensions between Bagdad and Erbil.

After Daesh emerged and fighting erupted several issues and problems accumulated on the top of the old problems which led to the issue of the unity of Iraq to be questioned. With the passing of time the Kurdish region has practically become independent and has lost its integration with Iraq, at a time when its status has is still unclear. Now the war against Daesh has came to an end and the Kurdish populated areas known as the “disputed areas" are controlled by Peshmerga, the issue of identity based on being a citizen of Iraqi Kurdistan is still unclear. In this context Masoud Barzani, the President of Kurdistan Region, has decided to hold a referendum to settle the Iraqi Kurdistan’s situation. That places a huge responsibility on the UN and other international bodies in order that the referendum and the votes of the people of Kurdistan are not disregaded, as happened in 2005.

Therefore, we the Worker-Communist Party of Kurdistan, call upon the UN and European Union to take direct responsibility for observing and supervising a referendum. 1. The UN to announce officially that they are willing to observe and supervise the process of the referendum and they will form a committee of experts to be established to supervise the process of voting and announcing the results. 2. The UN to hold the responsibility of protecting the people of Kurdistan against any threat and aggression from the Iraqi and regional governments. 3. The UN and the international community to consider the decision of the people of Kurdistan and urge all the political parties and the Iraqi government to comply with the people’s decision.

• From an open letter to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the General Secretary of the European Parliament Kalus Welle by the Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan. Find out more here