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 Day Eight of Protest in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, Religious Leaders Join In

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Day Eight of Protest in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, Religious Leaders Join In  24.2.2011  
Report by Karzan Kardozi

Kurdish protesters chanted “Hewler-Erbil is still Sleeping” “هه‌ولێر هه‌ر خەوتوو

February 24, 2011

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Today was the eighth day of Protest here in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. For the first time, the balance of power seem to be shifting toward the Protesters as their number grew and some Religious Leaders join in the Protest.

The Sun today was playing hide and seek with the Protesters, showing its face for a while and then hide behind the clouds, few chants from Protesters as the Sun would come out behind the clouds and shine its light on Maidany Azadi (Bardarky Sara). The weather was warmer than any other previous days, less scarf, the Young People now showed their face and they were not afraid to hide it behind their scarf.

Last night, around 1 AM, the Kurdistan Parliament ended its second session (their meeting went on from 11 AM in the morning to 1 AM at night), they released a 17 point statement, few points were very important to the Protesters: People can Protest Peacefully, All Militias Must get off the street and only anti-riot squat may breakup Protesters, they must have IDs on with their numbers on it. No Protesters should be arrested without a court order.

But did anybody really care about the 17 Point? NO, in today’s protest the streets were still full of Militias, some with masks covering their face and no ID on. The Protester know that Kurdistan Parliament has no power to do anything and all power belong to KDP and PUK, that is why they went on protesting. The Gorran members and members of Islamic Union of Kurdistan made the most passionate speeches,
www.ekurd.netone of the Gorran member told the head of Parliament that he should resign and the Government should be dissolved. Call also for Minister of Peshmerga and Interior Minister to resign. Members of Islamic Union of Kurdistan and Gorran said that he and some other members of Parliament (7 of them) were almost beaten by a one security guard at one of the hospitals in Erbil after they tried to visit and talk to one of the Militias who attacked the Nalia (NRT) television. He said that they took their names but they took it way from them and that some of them were sent to Turkey by plane. One of the Gorran Member “You shot and kill Young Men throwing stones at buildings, bring large Forces to the city, yet when Iran and Turkey bombard Kurdistan, you do nothing”

Al Jazeera Arabic estimated the numbers of yesterday’s Protest at 20,000, if that is so, then today there must have been between 25,000 to 30,0000 in Maidany Azadi. Today’s biggest applauds and cheers went to the Religious Leaders, a group of them who joined in the Protester and made speech to them, they hold a pray like in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. Some said the the Friday Prayer will take place at Maidany Azadi, that will surely bring in more people to the street. The White Group or Peace Group “گروپی ئاشتی” kept the peace as usual, among them there were some Members of Kurdistan Parliament, two women representative from Islamic Union of Kurdistan “یەکگرتووی ئیسلامی کوردستان”. Heavy present of Security Service around Maidany Azady, down to Mawlay Street and into Salim street in which KDP’s headquarter is located. 

A Group of Young Men are cleaning up the streets everyday before and after the Protest.

At Maidany Azady, as one of the Speaker mentioned that thousands in the town of Chwarqurna (Close to Rania and Iranian Border) are protesting, the crowds went into euphoric chant. Today, many of the shop-owners closed their shops and joined the protest. Life outside of Maidany Azady was normal, people shopping, going to schools, kids playing. As always, the streets leading to the square were closed and no cars allowed.

I would like to talk about the views of the Protesters when it comes to the recent uprising in the Arab World. Historically and especially in recent times, the Kurdish population has looked with suspicion at Arab Governments and sometime that would lead them to think of the Arab Population as being with their leaders, but now that view is changing, they applaud and love them for their new Revolutions, one middle ages man told me that how wrong he had been to consider the Arabs as his enemy and how mistaken he was not to separate their leaders from the population, he had a small Kurdistan flag on him, he went as far as to say “The Arab population proved that they are the Mothers of civilizations in Middle East”. More angry calls for Erbil (Hewler) to join it, Protesters chanting “Hewler is still Sleeping” “ھەولێر ھەر خەوتووە”       

Protests in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan region of Iraq, February 24, 2011. Photos by: Raman Gareb and Karzan Kardozi

Protests in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan region of Iraq, February 24, 2011.

Protests in Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan region of Iraq, February 24, 2011.

A Group of Young Men are cleaning up the streets everyday before and after the Protest. Sulaimaniyah, Kurdistan region of Iraq, February 24, 2011.
Back to the protesting, in Halabja for the third day on a row fight broke out between Protesters and Security Services. KNN report that unknown Militants are arresting the Protesters (not listening to Kurdistan Parliament). The head of Police in Halabja told KNN that he didn’t know who were those Militants and why they were arresting the Protesters.

The Students in University of Sulaimany went on protesting, a large number of them went to Maidany Azady. There is news that the Salahaddin University in Erbil is closed for today, conflicting reports, some say that the Students did not want to go to class and some say that the KDP closed it. Also, there is news that the KDP Security Guards at checkpoint leading into the city of Erbil won’t allow cars that got Sulaimaniyah tags to get into the city, more checkpoints is created. Some Protester were angry at one of the Kurdistan List representative in Iraqi Parliament, Ahwaq Jaf for calling the Sulaimaniyah Protesters as “Troublemakers” in Iraqi Parliament. The father of Sukrew, one of the wounded who died is asking Masud Barzani to apologize to him.

KurdSat TV and Gali Kurdistan TV (belong to PUK) with Zagros TV and Kurdistan TV (Belong to KDP) had some businessmen talking and mention that the protest could hurt the Kurdistan economy and lose of millions of dollars. The head of Barez Company (one of the biggest construction company) told Gali Kurdistan that “Many project could stop and companies could leave the country”

Some of today’s chants:

“This is the Tahrir Sequare, Do you remember Mubarak?” ئێره‌ مه‌یدانی ئازادییە، موباره‌كـتان له‌بیره

“چۆڵی كه‌ن ئه‌و كورسییه‌ میلله‌ت هه‌موو برسییه‌” “Leave that chair, the Masses are hungry”

“No to Corruption, Yes to Reform” نابۆ گەندەڵی‌ و قۆرغكردن، بەڵێ بۆ چاكسازی


“In Rain and in Hail, Sulamiany Still got Energy” به‌باران‌ و به‌ته‌رزه‌، سلێمانی وره‌ی به‌رزه


No to Killing of Kurds” نا بۆ کورد کوژی

” Freedom , Freedom ” ئازادی ئازادی


“Stop killing the Protesters” کوشتنی خۆپیشاندەران ڕاگرن


“No to silencing Voices, Yes to Freedom of Expression” نا بۆ کپ کردنی دەنگ، بەڵێ بۆ ئازادی ڕادەربڕین


“Listen to the sounds of Kurdistan” گوێ لەدەنگی کوردستان بگرن

Also for the second day, students in University of Koya went on to the street. Speda TV and Payam TV (both belong to Islamic Party) are now, more and more taking sides with the Protesters and criticizing the government.

There is news that many Militias are sent to Kirkuk for tomorrow’s protest. Tomorrow is called the “Day of Rage” all around Iran and the Iraqi Government is taking heavy security measures.

On Channel 4 (Belong to KDP), the Avin Aso’s program (Oprah of Kurdistan), Evin Jin u Jiyan is on, she is showing pictures of cute Kurdish children with smile, Kurdistan Flag with sad Classical Music on the background and she is talking patriotic “let us not give all this away, the World is jealous of us in Kurdistan, for our prosperity, etc..”

Thanks to Raman Gareb and others for some of the Pictures.

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