I will always be proud of what I did in the unofficial referendum of 2005 when I wholeheartedly went to the improvised tent where there was a ballot box and voted for the separation of Kurdistan from Iraq. And I did not vote for the Iraqi constitution.
The vote for the Iraqi constitution was also hand-in-hand with parliamentary elections. When the monitor said to me, “You forgot to vote for the Iraqi constitution,” I replied, “I didn't forget. I just don't want to vote for it.” I don't believe in a constitution that defines Iraq as one country. Had it said Iraq was made of two countries I would have voted for it.
Back then I was working at Media Newspaper and with my colleagues we were working on how unpractical Iraq’s federal system was at solving the many issues, and how it did not help Kurdistan separate from Iraq constitutionally.
Then, the party which owned the newspaper, announced its voting ‘Yes’ for the Iraqi constitution, and as the editor-in-chief of the newspaper I wrote an article and said that I wouldn't vote for it.
Many people aren’t enthusiastic at the time of elections, and they are right because of the many flaws and endless problems in Kurdistan’s political and governing system. But taking part in the referendum is a patriotic responsibility and a step towards the national goal which is the establishment of an independent Kurdish state.
I believe that parties and groups who say they doubt the referendum is for independence and therefore avoid supporting it should be the ones backing it before anyone else in order to use all their influence and power to make sure that referendum and its outcome are going to be nothing but independence. Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani has said time and again that the referendum is for the people of Kurdistan to peacefully separate from Iraq.
From its beginning Iraq has never been the country of all. One people in Iraq have always been in charge and the rest oppressed. From the time of the monarchy through to the removal of the Baath regime it was the state of the Sunnis. Kurds and Shiites were the suppressed. And from the regime change till now the Shiites have been in control with Kurds and Sunnis oppressed. Iraq has never been and will never be a country for all.
If the rights of millions of Arabs are trampled just because of religious differences, what hope can Kurds and other minorities have to live in such a country? Staying with Iraq, therefore, means staying with Iraq’s constant political and military attack on Kurdistan, which in turn will always be an impediment to the progress of democracy in Kurdistan. In no aspect whatsoever is living with Iraq in the interest of the Kurdish people.
Now that Iraq has become a producer of terrorist organizations that threaten regional and world security and the world has sympathy for the Kurds in recent years, it is the best opportunity for a referendum, and especially because referendums for independence in Quebec, Scotland, and Catalonia are seen as a normal thing. The Kurdistan Region has in the past 25 years been a force for good and stability more so than many countries in the region and this makes the call for independence yet louder.
Also, the Kurds themselves or their land have never been part of Iraq to say they are dividing it now. Iraq was built divided in the first place. There also was never an Iraqi nation. It was built unhealthy and governed unhealthy. The Kurds today are not dividing Iraq, but only separating from it, especially as Iraq has proven from day one to be a failed state.
The referendum is the voice of a people. Today, through mass media and ease of communication, many nations and individuals can express their ambitions. During its past revolutions Kurds only had a few envoys abroad. Today through social media they are part of the world and therefore can build a strong and solid support for Kurdistan’s independence referendum. It is now the best time for Kurds to work for independence and declare it through the coming referendum.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.