Democracy, the Kurdish Style.
Nov. 17, 05
By William Warda
During his visit to the US, Masoud Barzani, the President of
the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the Supreme Leader of
the Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP, was warmly welcomed at the
Oval Office by President Bush on Oct. 25th . In a banquet next
day Barzani greeted his Kurdish and Assyrian guests by speaking
of "The brotherly love between the Kurds and Assyrian residents
of Kurdistan and "their role in promoting democracy and
progress." Recent events however prove that Kurdish leaders'
newly found infatuation with democracy is because they can use
it to oppress others without being seen as dictators.
During the Oct. 15th constitutional referendum Kurdish officials
used fear and intimidation in the Plain of Nineveh to prevent
those who would have voted against it from exercising their voting
rights. This substantiates the Sunni charges of fraudulent vote
totals in the province showing that only 55 percent voted against
the constitution far less than required 2/3 majority expected..
Advisers to the US military reported that the 'Kurdish Democratic
Party ' (KDP) transported non-resident Kurdish voters in convoy
of buses into the Assyrian towns north of Mosul such as; Qaragosh,
Bartilla, Algosh, Telesqof, Telkaif accompanied by a large Kurdish
militia which intimidated the election officials at the polling
stations to provid them with ballots to vote. The local population
resented the unlimited power given to the Kurds in the proposed
constitution and planned to vote overwhelmingly against it, but
was intimidated into staying home. The constitution in these
towns passed by a large majority.
Before the referendum, rumors were spread by the Kurds in
the Nineveh province that those who vote against the Constitution
will no longer be provided food ration Cards which are controlled
and distributed by the Kurdish officials. "Many farmers
and their families reported they voted "yes" because
they were told it will ensure the renewal of their Ration Cards.
Reasons for voting against the constitution by the Assyrians
included the unlimited power given to the Kurds, the separation
of Chaldeans from Assyrians as two different ethnic people to
divide the community and undermine its rights, fear of future
Kurd's oppression evident by how they have terrorized the local
population, and the role of Islam in legislating the laws leading
to the imposition of Sharia.
All pleas to redress such concerns were ignored. On August 24th
there were demonstrations in Bartilla, Baghdeda, Qaragosh and
Telesqop against the separation of the Chaldeans and Assyrians.
Two days later, the KDP struck back by killing at random the
37 year old Nabil Akram Ammona, a resident of Bartilla, as he
was filling his car with gasoline. When Mr. Mattai Zora rushed
to assist him, he was killed also.
Kurds have let it be known that they intend to bring under
their absolute rule not only he city of Kirkuk also the Assyrian
towns north of Nineveh where the number of Kurds living in the
region is very small. During an interview in last August with
the Washington Post reporter a local KDP official admitted to
The same article revealed "Kurdish militia have beaten
up anyone who refuses to go along with their plans, individuals
have been arrested and sent to jails in Kurdistan for activities
such as "writing against the Kurds on the internet".
There is a suspicion that several Assyrians were murdered by
the KDP during the last year to terrorize the community.
On October 29th Michael Seron an Assyrian engineer who was
the assistant manager of Iraq's North Oil company was shot and
killed by unknown gunmen. Some of his friends stated that days
before his death he had been visited at work by the KDP agents
and was told he should either join the the KDP or resign from
his position, he had refused. Forcing Assyrian leaders into the
"Kurdistan Political Party" is intended by the Kurds
to deprive the community from an independent leadership and use
the Assyrian members of the KDP as tools to serve the Kurdish
interest instead of their people, in many ways similar to how
Saddam Hosain Baath party carried out its Arabization policy.
Kurds desire to claim these towns as part of Kurdistan evokes
fears that they plan to ethnic cleanse the region and populate
it with the Kurds. These are historic towns which have been inhabited
primarily by the Assyrians since ancient times and are the last
few remaining small cities predominantly populated by them.
Given the historic predatory treatment of the Assyrians by
the Kurds and their militarism such concerns should not be dismissed
lightly. During world war one Kurds in cooperation with Turkey
massacred half a million Assyrians. The survivors were driven
from their homes in Southwest Turkey, the mountains north of
Mosul, and Urmia, in northwest Iran. The Kurdish rebellions between
1960's to 1990 resulted in bombing of the Assyrian villages north
of Duhuk by the Iraqi forces who did not distinguish between
the former and the latter. More than 220 Assyrian villages were
destroyed at that time and their inhabitants were partly killed
and the rest were driven out. During the Kurdish rebellions beginning
in 1984 in SouthEast Turkey Assyrians were terrorized by both
sides and forced to flee to Syria and Europe.
It is Ironic that President Jalal Talabani, who is a Kurd,
described "those who voted for the Iraq draft constitution
as 'partisans of democracy, freedom, and human rights' and those
who voted no as 'partisans of terrorism, al-Qaida organization,
and Arab chauvinism." Such sentiments bring to mind Saddam
Hosain's demand that 100 percent of Iraqi's should vote yes on
referendum every seven years to reelect him as president. The
use of the Kurdistan Democratic Party to terrorize the none Kurds
into submission is similar to the Saddam Hosain's use of Baath
Party to Arabize the none Arabs including the Kurds. In other
words Kurds who decried being persecuted by Saddam have no problem
doing the same to the none Kurds.
This is not the first time that Kurds have prevented the Assyrians
in the Plain of Nineveh from exercising their voting rights.
During the Iraqi elections of Temporary Assembly in January 2005,
Kurds blocked the delivery of the Ballot boxes to the Assyrian
villages in the region. By some estimate 30,000 Assyrian voters
were not allowed to vote.
When the Ballot boxes did not arrive Spontaneous demonstration
were organized by several hundred people in Qaragosh who chanted
"We want to democratically select our own representatives".
Louis Markus Ayoob the deputy mayer of the city and a representative
of the Electoral Committee at the town contacted the Election
committee in Mosul and made arrangements for the extension of
the voting hours at the town and the delivery of the Ballot boxes
by the Americans at a specific time and place. However Markus
was unable to get to the helicopters because he was intercepted
by the Kurdish soldiers and taken to the KDP headquarters where
he was beaten brutally and held prisoner until midnight. Ballot
boxes were never delivered to other Assyrian towns in the Plain
of Nineveh either. An investigation by the Election Committee
revealed improprieties but did not redress the injustice.
Democracy becomes nothing more than a mockery when those who
are trusted with implementing it have no respect for the rights
of the others, Kurdish leaders like other dictators pretend devotion
to the principals of democracy while they are oppressing the
helpless minorities to profit from their misery.