Kurdish President Masoud Barzani. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- In a strongly worded message late on Tuesday Kurdish President Masoud Barzani defended the right of his people to an independent state and described the critics of independence referendum as unfair.
“In the last few days some local politicians and officials of regional states have made incorrect and unfair statements about the right of the Kurdish people to holding a referendum and deciding their own future,” said Barzani in a statement.
“First of all, the existence of the Kurdish people in the Middle East is a reality and the Kurds can, like all other nations, achieve their rights and benefit from them. These are natural and God-given rights and can under no excuse be denied.”
Barzani said in his message that the sooner the Kurds take their rights and decide their own future the sooner peace and stability will come to the region.
“If the Kurds expect others to hand them independence as a present they’ll never achieve independence. That right is there and the Kurds must seek and fulfill it,” he said.
Barzani said that the marking of the borders a century ago caused the people of the region a lot of suffering and tragedies.
“It is clear to all that this region and Kurdistan in particular was divided without regard to the will of its indigenous people which in turn led to a hundred years of troubles, war, denial and instability,” read his message. “Those who caused this division know very well what a big mistake they made but they are not ready to admit their political failure of the last one hundred years.”
The Kurdish president who has met with political parties several times in the last few months to discuss a mechanism for holding a referendum on independence, made comparisons to places like Scotland and people’s right to decide.
“It is not fair to discard the rights of the Kurdish people for political reasons or to appease others. Would they allow themselves to stop the rights of their own people? Kurdistan has every geographic, historic and human factor just as Scotland, Catalonia, Quebec and others do. The same way people in those places have the right to decide their future the Kurds too have that right and this is not open to argument.
“It is also surprising that some local figures find excuses against this right and speak of postponing [referendum] and of having to prepare the groundwork. A referendum is to know the opinion of the people of Kurdistan on independence and needs no preparation. Seeking excuses against a referendum comes from hesitation and lack of confidence in the right of the Kurdish people.” Barzani said.
Barzani’s message went on say that there is a golden opportunity for a referendum which must be seized.
“Now the time is ripe for the people of Kurdistan to decide their future through a referendum. The referendum does not mean an immediate declaration of a state but to know the opinion and desire of the people of Kurdistan which the Kurdish political leadership will implement at an appropriate time and circumstance.
“A referendum also takes place in a peaceful and modern process and it is done for more peace in the region and the return of the right to those who have been deprived of it. This will be done without violence and through understanding and dialogue and will pose no threat to anyone,” Barzani’s message emphasized.
Barzani met with members of the Kurdish parliament in the summer of 2014 and asked them to set a date for holding a referendum on independence, which he stressed in his latest message must go ahead regardless of what opponents say.
“Our region is has witnessed too many disasters and change is on the way and the Kurds haven’t caused any of it. The Kurds have only been the victims while others have brought disasters and conflict to the region,” he said.
The Kurdish president said that “After so many tragedies and sacrifice it is time the Kurds decided their own fate and it is the duty of every patriotic citizen of Kurdistan to live up to their historic responsibility and stand by their people’s will to achieve their rights.
“Denying an oppressed people their rights is unacceptable and we must give our people that right and work for it without hesitation.”