Problems with Kurdish democracy: Unrest in Duhok
Today in Duhok [South-Kurdistan] the political office of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) went up in flames reported Nefel.com. This happened after a group of youngsters got into trouble with with members of the IUK. As a result a big fight broke out.
The Asayish (Kurdish security forces) were right at the spot and the firemen tried to extinguish the fire. But this was in vain. The building could not be saved. Because of the unrest 24 people got wounded including 7 civilians, 7 members of the KIU and 10 Asayish policemen. According to Reuters there also were 4 deaths, including the leader of the Islamic Union in Duhok. Rumours say he was only wounded. But the reports about this event are very unclear. According to Netkurd there were also attacks in Zakho (a place near Duhok) against the KIU.
Yesterday there were also problems, when young people tried to take away the Kurdish flag of the KIU building. These Kurdistan alliance supporters claimed, that the KIU doesn’t have the right to use a Kurdish flag, because they aren’t part of the Kurdistani Alliance, but went to the elections separately. The Islamic group has been criticised for the decision to leave the main Kurdish electoral bloc at a time when competition for votes is getting tougher. This decision of the KIU reflects rumblings of discontent with the two main Kurdish parties and their supporters, which are already predicted to lose some seats as more Sunni Arabs seek representation.
The unrest in the city is still there. People tried to evade all political offices. This case is very sensitive and will be a big influence on the people of Kurdistan, because of the elections in 7 days.
In the election three big parties will participate: PCDK 779, Kurdistani Alliance 730 and Kurdistan Islamic Union 561. (Thanks to Hiwa for translating the manifests of the parties)
I translated this, because it’s important for the Kurdish people to realise this isn’t democracy. You cannot burn down someone’s office, because you don’t agree with them. Several KIU adverts were smashed too.
Smashed Yekgirtu (Kurdish name for KIU) advert in Hawler
The Kurdish president of South-Kurdistan Massoud Barzani condemned the attacks and promised to arrest the people who were behind the attack. He said that every party is free in his opinion. Although he claims to be democratic, the security agents of his party arrested the writer Dr. Kamal Said Qadir for criticism on Barzani and the Kurdish people. (Read more here TheKurdistani.com). It’s not clear if Barzani wanted the writer to be arrested, but later he said he could walk out, if he [the writer]wrote an apology letter. It’s clear there has a lot to be done to democratise Kurdistan after decades of war and insecurity. There was also an article of Michael Rubin, who spoke about corruption in the Kurdish government. He wrote that "the Iraqi Kurdish leadership is more consumed with self-enrichment".
I am not saying that South-Kurdistan is a non-democratic regime now or that I am against the ruling Kurdish parties. I am just saying it's still a long road to democracy and that this is a logicial situation. It was a long road for all countries and nations in the world to become fully democratic. But it's in my opinion that Kurdistan cannot become democratic without criticism!! If South-Kurdistan is really a democracy, the democratic forces [media, people, etc] will bring the system in check.
Alastair Farrugia used to say:"Freedom is when the people can speak, democracy is when the government listens." It's time for the government to listen more, but also for the Kurdish people to think about the meaning of democracy.
- Vladimir van Wilgenburg