In Pictures: Kurdistan flag banned, Khamenei photo raised in Kirkuk
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – Following the Iraqi takeover of the disputed province of Kirkuk, supported by Iranian-backed militias, photos of Shiite figures like Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali-Khamenei have been displayed in the city. At the same time, the Kurdistan flag has been banned.
An Iraqi flag has taken the place of the Kurdistan one at the giant Peshmerga statue built in the city in memory of the sacrifices of Kurdish soldiers in the war against ISIS.
In other places, photos of Kurdish figures like the late Iraqi President Jalal Talabani appear to have been damaged.
Kirkuk's Provincial Council voted to raise the Kurdistan flag alongside the Iraqi one over state buildings in the province in March, despite opposition from the government in Baghdad.
Iraqi forces removed the Kurdistan flag from state buildings throughout the province in late October and banned Kurdish parties from raising the banner over their own offices.
An Iraqi commander on October 17, a day after the city fell to Iraqi forces, did not allow a Kurdish police officer to speak in his native tongue, though the Iraqi constitution officially recognizes the language.
Iraqi forces took control of many of the disputed or Kurdistani areas in mid-October after a military incursion triggered by the independence vote held in the Kurdistan Region and disputed areas in the face of Iraqi opposition.
A Kurdish official told Rudaw over the weekend that some employees in certain public offices have been asked to indicate whether or not they helped implement the KRG's "unconstitutional referendum” on September 25.
The KRG has offered to freeze the outcome of the vote in return for open dialogue with the Iraqi government on the basis of the constitution and has also respected rulings issued by the Iraqi Federal Court that declared the vote "unconstitutional" and canceled its results.
Photos by Rudaw/Hiwa Hussamadin