Some angry anti-government protesters set ablaze dozens of party and government offices in several cities of the province of Sulaimani earlier this week. Photo: Rudaw TV
BERLIN, Kurdistan Region – Kosrat Rasul, the top official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) said in a warning message to all Kurdish parties and people of Kurdistan that the Kurdish house is suffering from lack of unity, a fact that may push the Kurdish Region “towards the unknown.”
His message comes as a wave of violent protests affected many Kurdish cities in the provinces of Sulaimani and Halabja. At least two people were killed, and 300 more injured earlier this week when anti-government protests turned violent, with some setting ablaze party and government offices such in Raniya.
Kurdish security forces have since been deployed to places where the protests occurred and dozens of people, such as protest organizers, were briefly arrested. A Kurdish media network, NRT based in Sulaimani remains suspended since Wednesday, and the whereabouts of two politicians, MP Rabun Maruf and businessman-turned-politician Shaswar Abdulwahid remain unknown; both are from the newly-established New Generation party.
Rasul, the PUK acting head is in Germany receiving medical treatment after he fell ill in early November. He has undergone two surgeries so far for a stoppage of blood flow to his small intestines.
He apologized to the people of Kurdistan that he is outside of the country at this critical time. He said he wrote his message to the nation “on my hospital bed.”
“I want to openly state that expressing dissatisfaction, the protest of public employees as well as the people of Kurdistan to obtain their rights and freedoms is a necessary, and respected basic right,” Rasul said.
He said, however, targeting public and private places is not the right way to demonstrate against “lack of justice, lack of salaries, and a deterioration of services.”
“The right path is demonstration and expressing dissatisfaction through peaceful and civic ways, not the way it is taking place now,” Rasul explained.
It is the duty of the Kurdistan Regional Government, in coordination with other Kurdish institutions, to take “necessary procedures to calm the situation, and meet the demands of the people,” Rasul said in his message to the government, demanding the Kurdish security forces and the riot police to deal with the protesters in a “civilized way,” as they try to protect lives and properties.
It is unfortunate that the Kurdish parties are not united to face the “difficult and sensitive situation” in the Kurdistan Region, while forces opposed to Erbil are united in their stance against the Kurdish experience, Rasul said.
In reference to the Kurdish vote on independence held in September, Rasul said that the enemies of Kurdistan, namely Iraq and the neighboring countries, put aside their differences “and put their voices and forces together against our nation.”
He demanded that all Kurdish parties sacrifice their interests for the sake of the unity in the Kurdistan Region.
“If we fail to do that, and instead we continue to remain disunited as we are now, the fate of our experience [of the Kurdish governance] will head towards the unknown,” Rasul said in a warning message.
Anti-government protests which turned violent on Tuesday call for the full payment of delayed or reduced salaries, a fight against widespread corruption, and better basic services such as electricity. The KRG maintains that the loss of oil-fields in Kirkuk, and the continued budget cut by the Iraqi government since early-2014 means they have failed to pay the state salary in full or on time.