Protests spread in Iraqi Kurdistan

Submitted by AWL on 17 August, 2006 - 10:16

From the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees: In the past 10 days demonstrations and marches protesting against shortages of petrol, electricity and corruption of the PUK regime in Iraqi Kurdistan have taken place in the following cities:

  • 7 August Chamchamal
  • 7 August Shorsh
  • 9 August Darbandyxan
  • 10 August Kalar
  • 5 August Kfry
  • 7 August Zarayan
  • 12 August Kirkuk
  • 13 August Sulaimanya

Thousands of people have participated in these demonstrations. Instead of listening to the protestors the PUK opened fire on them. As a result Aryan Mahmoud in Kalar was killed also shkar Amen in Darbandyxan was killed, and 60 people were injured. Reportedly, about 2000 young people have been displaced in a week. Over 400 people have been arrested, amongst them:

Zmanko Aziz, Akrim Muhammed, Said Mustaf, Hwar, Bahra Muhammed, Hariz Muhammed, Kajaw Jamal, Shoxan, Ali Maulud, Salah Baban.

According to recent reports received from Kurdistan the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) have kidnapped and arrested many political activists in an attempt to create an atmosphere of fear and to gag dissenting voices of protest.

In the last two months waves of protests and demonstrations have erupted in Kurdistan over the lack of basic amenities such as water supplies, electricity, fuel and the growing corruption of the KDP and the PUK. These protests and demonstrations have spread to most cities and towns across Kurdistan. The protests have intensified following the recent elections in Kurdistan. Before the elections all the political parties promised to improve the basic amenities in Kurdistan. Unfortunately the promised improvements have not materialised; instead the basic services and amenities have declined, whilst the wealth of the officials of the KDP and PUK continues to grow.

Instead of meeting the demands of the protestors, the PUK and KDP continue to try to suppress the demonstrations by shooting at the demonstrators and arresting political activists or anyone thought to play a part in organising the protests. Many political activists are being held in the notorious prisons of Akre, Kany goma and Qalacholan. Often they are released several days later with no charges against them.

  • Kordo Karim was killed on 16 March at a demonstration in Halabja.
  • Hawez Hawezi, the correspondent of Hawlati newspaper was arrested on 17 March 2006 in the town of Koya for writing an article critical of the authorities.
  • Jabar Soffi an activist of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq was shot at and seriously injured on 23 March 2006
  • Bashdar Ali an activist of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq and a well known student activist was arrested on the 21 March 2006. Whilst in custody he was warned to give up political activity or he would be killed.
  • Azad Majed an activist of the Worker Communist Party of Iraq and a well-known figure in the city of Kirkuk was threatened by the PUK’s militia during a demonstration against an increase in fuel prices.

On the anniversary of the notorious so-called Anfal campaign by the Baath regime, which claimed the lives of thousands of people, the PUK has created an atmosphere of fear in the region of Garmian to prevent the relatives of the victims from protesting against corrupt officials of these parties who take advantage of sympathy for the victims of the Anfal campaign, while relatives of victims grow poorer and more deprived.

The PUK armed men, just like the Baath forces did, go from house to house searching for activists who are engaged in organising demonstrations on the anniversary of the Anfal asking for basic services for the families of the victims. In the last 3 days, Hussein Salih, the member of the WCP of Iraq and also a well-known figure in labour movement and Zmnako Aziz, the member of the Politburo of the WCP of Iraq have been jailed in order to foil these demonstrations and gag the protests.

On Thursday morning 27 July 2006 the workers of the Tasluja Cement Factory in Suleimanya took part in a peaceful protest demanding a pay rise and the reinstatement of fellow workers who had been sacked. The PUK shot into the demonstration and 13 workers were badly injured.

These oppressive acts of PUK and PDK are completely against the interests of people in Kurdistan. They amount to the violation of the basic rights of these people. They are in contrast to all claims made by the officials of these two parties in regard to flourishing political freedoms and freedom of expression in Kurdistan. They are an attempt to consolidate the oppressive rule and terrorise people of Kurdistan.

The International Federation of Iraqi Refugees will do our best to defend the political and civil rights and freedoms of people in Kurdistan. We demand that:

1. The PUK and KDP stop the oppression against people and political activists.

2. They recognise the right to demonstrate, express opinion and engage in political activity as basic rights of people in Kurdistan

3. All political activists and those arrested during various demonstrations in different parts of Kurdistan be released immediately.

4. The PUK and the KDP meet in full the demands of the protestors and negotiate with the protestors’ chosen representatives.

5. Water and electricity be supplied equally to everybody.

At the same time, we call on all human rights and refugees organisations and progressive parties and groups to support our struggle to defend the basic rights of people in Kurdistan. Write letters of protest to the offices of the PUK and PDK in your countries. Put pressure on them to officially recognise the above-mentioned rights of people of Kurdistan. Fax your letters to:

the PUK’s office in London, on fax number 00 442078400630

the PUK’s office in the USA on the fax number 12026372723

the KDP’s office in UK 442074982531

the KDP’s office in the USA on Fax Number 7035335886

Please sent a copy of your protest letter to Dashty Jamal.

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