A Kurdish Peshmerga planting the flag of Kurdistan in Kirkuk, June 2014. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kirkuk province has officially decided that alongside Arabic language, Kurdish should also be used in letters being issued by the city's apparatus and the Kurdish flag has to be flown across the city's governmental institutions.
Kirkuk governor Najmadeen Karim, has decreed in a written statement to the city's institutions that they "decided for the usage of Kurdish and Arabic languages in all written letters as this section has been stated in the Iraqi constitution."
Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages in Iraq as outlined in the Iraqi constitution. It is estimated that there are more than 5 million native Kurdish speakers in the Kurdistan Region, where the Turkmen and Syriac languages are also widely spoken.
According to Article 4 of the Iraqi constitution, “Each region or governorate may adopt any other local language as an additional official language if the majority of its population so decides in a general referendum.”
The governor's statement has warned if "any institution does not commit and fail to it will face legal investigations."
In a second letter also issued by Karim to the Kirkuk Provincial Council, in light of the March events including Newruz, it calls upon the provincial council to decide to raise Kurdish flag alongside Iraq's across the government institutions and companies.
In other recent outstanding decrees issued by Kirkuk province it stopped processing applications for new national identity cards in protest of Baghdad’s use of the Baath-era name for the province, Taamim.
The multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, home to one of Iraq's largest oil fields, has been secured by Kurdish Peshmerga forces since mid-2014 after Iraqi government troops left the city ahead of a possible attack by radical Islamic insurgents when they took over large swathes of the country.