Rudaw file photo of the Iraqi parliament in session.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Fourteen Kurdish members of the Iraqi parliament are facing the threat of death sentences from Baghdad for voting in Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum on September 25.
Dr. Muthana Ameen, an MP from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), one of the MPs in question, says “They want to try us with Iraq’s penal code 156 for voting as Kurds and in a civil and democratic way for the independence of Kurdistan.”
Ameen slammed the parliament’s decree saying “We see this decision against us as political not legal.”
The Iraqi Parliament’s MPs affairs committee has so far read three recommendations from the parliament against the 14 Kurdish parliamentarians which include stripping them of immunity, trial and banning them from parliamentary duties until their cases have been decided on by the court.
Amin wonders why the parliament is only after these 14 MPs when “many others” voted, too.
“If death sentence is issued for an MP for voting, then three million Kurds must be punished," said Amin.
On suggestions from the Shiite State of Law Coalition nearly 100 MPs submitted a letter to the Iraqi Federal Court, wanting legal measures taken against the Kurdish MPs who voted for the independence of Kurdistan from Iraq.
Of the 14 MPs, 10 are from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), two from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the other two from the KIU.
The Federal Court refused to issue any verdicts against them, saying according to the Iraqi constitution, it was not their business to issue verdicts against the respective MPs.
On October 10, a temporary committee comprised of the legal and MPs affairs committees decided to expel the 14 MPs and sent their cases to the court.
Amin Bakir, a Change Movement (Gorran) parliamentarian in Baghdad echoed the sentiment that stirring the motion against the Kurds in the parliament is more of “political.”
“This question is political and lifting immunity on MPs is not an easy job,” Bakir, who is also member of the legislature’s legal committee, told Rudaw.
He added they “Do not know the opinion of other Kurdish MPs since they have not returned to Baghdad yet. But this subject is certainly more to do with political stalemates between Erbil and Baghdad.”
In the meantime, the Iraqi parliament is trying to persuade the Kurdish MPs to return to Baghdad.
According to Renas Jano, one of the 14 charged MPs, Salim al-Jabouri, parliament speaker, had asked several MPs to persuade other Kurdish parliamentarians to return and attend the sessions.
“But Jabouri has not given any guarantees to the MPs that there will not be any legal measures against them once they return,” he explained.
According to Iraq’s penal code 156, a person is sentenced to death who “intentionally” threatens the sovereignty and unity of the state.