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Hundreds stage ‘No for Now’ rally against Kurdistan referendum

By Rudaw 9/9/2017
‘No’ vote supporters rally in Sulaimani Stadium Saturday. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
‘No’ vote supporters rally in Sulaimani Stadium Saturday. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Hundreds of people have staged a rally in support of the “No for Now” campaign to express their opposition to the Kurdistan independence referendum set for September 25.

Shaswar Qadir, a businessman and the owner of NRT media outlet, told the crowd at Sulaimani Stadium on Saturday evening that they refuse to believe the Kurdish leadership’s “lies” that the goal of the September vote is to establish an independent state.

He said the referendum is to distract people from the real problems, such as the ongoing financial crisis and shortage of basic services.

Rabun Maruf, spokesperson for the no campaign, said that it is also an attempt by the Kurdish parties to forget that the “post held by Mr. Barzani is illegitimate.”

The term of President Masoud Barzani, who favours a yes vote, expired in August 2015 but was extended in a controversial court ruling until the next presidential election takes place.

Barzani has said that he will resign from his post if the people of Kurdistan vote against leaving Iraq. He also ruled out himself and members of his family from running for office in the presidential election scheduled for November 1. 

Making reference to Barzani’s statement that he would rather die of starvation than give up on the referendum, Qadir said that only leaders who are “losers” make such remarks. He said his campaign wants people to stand on their own feet and thrive.

Qadir said that voting no means the “elite rulers” can no longer “think on our behalf, or make decisions on our behalf.”

The majority of parties in the Kurdistan Region, including Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), participated in a meeting where they decided to hold the vote.

Qadir claimed that those who support the ‘Yes’ vote want to create a kingdom to be ruled by a king. 

“They are naive if they think they can establish a kingdom in Kurdistan,” Qadir told the crowd. 

Many in the crowd waved the Kurdistan flag along with that of the ‘No for Now’ campaign. They chanted “Shaswar” on several occasions as they listened to his speech. 

Barzani has said the future independent Kurdistan will be federal, democratic, and a republic that will give each province the right to control their own affairs, except for sovereign matters such as the army. 

The Sulaimani football club, in whose stadium the event was held, named Qadir its honorary president when the businessman offered financial support to renovate the arena.

The local government in Sulaimani, controlled by Gorran and the PUK, stated Friday that the rally did not have a permit and warned they would organizers responsible if something went wrong.

Qadir told the crowd that the movement he leads has plans post September 25. 

“Our and your work begins from September 26, for a greater work,” Qadir stated. 

He said the people of Kurdistan should be given the opportunity to bring about change through civic activities or “they will have an excuse to resort to non-civic struggle,” he warned.

Commenting on the ‘No for Now’ campaign’s Sulaimani origins, Qadir said, they would reach Erbil, though it may take time, making comparisons to the civil rights movement in the United States. 

“The revolution begins from a remote village, but ends in the capital,” Qadir said.  The Kurdish uprising against the Iraqi government in the early 1990s began from the city of Rania, but soon spread to the rest of Kurdistan, he added. 

He argued that the Kurdistan Region is already acting like a state and that if the leadership were genuine in their calls for independence, a referendum would not have been needed. He said a referendum as a tool is not needed to establish a state or should only be the final step.

Kurdish parties who throw their support behind the vote argue that an independent Kurdistan will enjoy all the sovereign powers currently exercised by the Baghdad government, including an independent economy and the right to obtain weapons and training needed for the Peshmerga.

Qadir told the crowd to cast ‘No’ vote on September 25, arguing against calls to either boycott the referendum or spoil their ballots. 

Official campaigning for the referendum began on Tuesday and will continue until the 23rd. 


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Tony Montana | 9/9/2017
What is wrong with this people? The don't want an indipendent kurdistan? Then they should not live in it when it has been created. Prs. Barzani do not want to prs. Any more and his familiy won't even be running. So whats up with this nunsennes? Elect me as prs. 😁 i will fiks all your problems. First by kicking out those garbedges 😌 Tony Montana 4 prs. 2017
Hoshyar Zaxoy | 9/9/2017
When Late Barzani (RIP) was leading September 1961 uprising and by 1966 Jalal Talabani defected to the Baghdad Government then claimed Barzani was a Mosad agent, not him!!. The city of Slemani immediately followed him. By 1970 this jash 66 movement collapsed to appear again in 1975 with Koye & slemani joining the jash 66 now called PUK. By late 70s Nawshirwan created the Garan jash and the people of slemani found him the perfect leader, from their city while Koye people stayed loyal to jash 66. History repeats itself. In the years 1980 and afterwards all PUK & Garan peshmergas were doing every night was arguments after arguments about who is better.
Shameless | 9/9/2017
Surprised Maliki wasn't invited😏😏... Shameless. Such a shame to be from Slemani today. I know I am.
Observer | 9/9/2017
Even if Barzani is trying to establish a kingdom (which is not the case). Why not support the establishment of an independent Kurdish Kingdom and then start a revolution for a democratic Kurdish republic? Could it be because they are genuinly against the establishment of an independent Kurdistan?
Argushi, USA | 10/9/2017
This idiots who are against the NO vote. are traitors, they are not kurds, not human, not Muslim. They are the enemy of the kurds. ALL kurds around the world should remember and never forget these people. LONG LIVE KURDISTAN, LONG LIVE SAROK BARZANI, LONG LIVE PESHMERGA

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