People in Kirkuk wave the Kurdistan flag in the streets September 25, 2017, the day an independence referendum was held in the Kurdistan Region including in the disputed city. Photo: AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Several employees in the diverse city of Kirkuk have been given forms to fill out declaring that they did not help in implementing procedures of the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum, and a provincial official claims it is being done "to intimidate the Kurds."
“This form had been circulated in some specific offices, not all offices. It was circulated in education and health offices, according to information we have received. This isn’t something done by the government,” Azad Jabari, head of the security committee in Kirkuk’s provincial council, told Rudaw. "Rather, some people are doing this to scare Kurdish employees."
The form passed out to the employees reads: ‘I certify I didn’t take part in implementing the procedures of the unconstitutional referendum of the Kurdistan Region held on September 25, 2017.”
It also asks the employees to prove that they did not help with the vote by showing that they were on holiday, leave or absent on the stated date.
“I hereby confirm the information I have put on this form is correct and I will accept all legal proceedings if false,” the form continues.
“Some people are doing this to intimidate the Kurds," said Jabari.
The undated document does not elaborate what the “legal proceedings” would be.
“We have informed other parties in the council of this action. We have told them this act was illegal and should therefore stop otherwise it will draw reactions,” Jabari.
The Kurdistan Region held a referendum on independence on September 25. The provinces of Sulaimani, Halabja, Erbil, and Duhok were included in the referendum. In the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad, the referendum was held in areas where the local administration voted to participate.
Kirkuk, a diverse city and province, participated in the referendum.
Of the ballots counted, 93 percent indicated ‘Yes’ for independence.
The ballot read: “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the Region to become an independent state?”
The question was asked in the Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen, and Assyrian languages, with instructions on how to check ‘No’ or ‘Yes’ appear above the boxes.
In October Iraqi forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias entered Kirkuk and the other disputed areas, where they have imposed federal control. The incursion resulted in deadly clashes.
After what were seen by the KRG as a number of punitive measures taken by Baghdad, the Kurdistan agreed “to freeze” the result of the referendum and enter into dialogue with the Government of Iraq.
An Iraqi Federal Court then said that Iraq is a parliamentary and democratic republic with the constitution as the guarantor of its unity, saying it could become the basis for dialogue.
The KRG agreed “to respect” the court’s ruling.
Baghdad and Erbil are yet to enter into political dialogue to resolve the impasse, despite calls from the international community, namely, France, the United Nations, the European Union, and the United Kingdom, among others.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of the story erroneously reported that Kirkuk employees were asked to indicate whether or not they “voted” in the Kurdish referendum for independence. This has been changed to whether they helped to “implement” the procedures of the Kurdish vote. The translation of the form in paragraph three has also been corrected.
Last updated at 5:10 p.m.