Democracy and Iraqi Kurdistan Region

Wednesday, 04.11.2018, 0:28

4975 بینراوە

Once Saddam's Ba'athist regime had fallen, I dreamed that we could at last live in a freedom and peace. Thought that the people of Kurdistan region could leave the atrocities behind, that we would learn from our mistakes, and that no authority would again treat anyone like a second-class citizen. Today, I wonder if the Ba'athist culture of dictatorship, repression and violence can ever be expelled. As a scholar, I dreamed that no one would be burdened only for their opinion, and that none would again face kidnapping, assassination or being denied. I dreamed that the people would no longer stay in the dark and unjust chapters of the life. I dreamed of justice and equality, though I knew that many people of this generation would pay a heavy price for asking justice and equality.

Everything I dreamed of seemed simple and normal but years later, all of it still seems far from coming true. Despite the fact that Kurdistan region has progressed in many ways over the last few years but it wasn’t so in term of democracy.1 The two main ruling families in Kurdistan region Talabanis and Barzanis (they actually more business families than governing one), who have created what some scholars have labelled a sultanistic system and have been rooting their rule for decades. According to the well-known US commentator Michael Rubin “both the Barzanis and Talabanis confuse personal, party and public funds. This situation led the political system in Kurdistan to unpredictable disorder; a lack of trust and the pursuit of power have created a state without rules. Corruption and a lack of transparency have become the norm in Kurdistan region. In fact, one can safely call 2015 the year of the collapse of the political and democracy system in this region, the year in which parliament and the rule of law were trampled upon by the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) militia group. As time went on, however, it became clear that the problems stemmed not from individuals, but from the mentality of Tribal-Kurd elites and clan-based culture, and how they saw the national demands of people. Those with power have been unable to understand the heart of the people issue, or even the notion of sharing power at all.

This is bad enough, but the condition of independent writers and scholars has become a disaster in the recent years. Violence towards them throughout Kurdistan region covers a wide range of practices, including killings, kidnapping and violence. Normally these techniques are used to prevent them from saying the truth. A number of writers and journalists were murdered and many others received death threats through e-mail and telephone almost immediately after writing an article about the corruption (Kurdistan’s biggest economic problem) of the two ruling families in Kurdistan region.  The murder of Sardasht Othman, a university student who had written critically of the leadership and published biting satires of a kind that are tolerated by leaders in other democracies, is one in a series of assaults on independent journalism in Iraqi Kurdistan. The murder of Wedad Hussein is only the latest in a series of assaults on independent writers in Kurdistan region. Wedad was murdered in front of the people in the street in Dohuk after he had written articles that offended government officials.2 On 4th May 2017, the independent writerIbrahim Abbas was detained by KDP Parastin (security forces) in Erbil on Wednesday after he criticized the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and corruption in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region.

Despite these and other assaults on Kurdish writers, no one has been apprehended or charged in a court of law. The effect of the government’s inaction has been to intimidate Kurdish journalists, many of whom rightly fear for their lives.4 Finally, we can say that the political trend in Kurdistan region is certainly not encouraging. Barzani has remained in office despite the expiration of his legal mandate. Worse, his government has engineered a crackdown on the Kurdish community and KRG’s politicized security forces endanger human security within Kurdistan. Since the justice system is not independent enough, these security apparatuses ignore their decisions. Meanwhile, writers are killed and scholars are fired, while scarcity and joblessness are at their highest levels. Subsequently, tens of thousands people migrate from the area, as the ruling parties get richer and the government goes broke and the people of Kurdistan feel less and less safe.



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