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 Massoud Barzani's Response to protests in Iraqi Kurdistan

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Massoud Barzani's Response to protests in Iraqi Kurdistan  27.2.2011  

Kurdish President Barzani Condemns Violent Protests in Iraqi Kurdistan
Statement by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani

February 27, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlęr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —  All citizens of the Kurdistan Region can only meet the events of the last few days, which have resulted in the loss of some of our fellow citizens, with the most profound sense of grief. I personally find any loss of life in our Region to be an unacceptable tragedy.

While some may try to obscure the tragedy of these events for their own ends, I want to make clear to all precisely where I and all those who love Kurdistan must stand on the violence that has marred otherwise peaceful demonstrations over the last few days.

Regardless of political affiliation, religion, or place of birth – all people in Kurdistan are created equal and must be seen as such in the eyes of the law.            

Massoud Barzani, president of Kurdistan region in Iraq's north.

As citizens of a democracy, all have the right to peaceful demonstration. All have the right to air their grievances, to meet in peaceful assembly, to form political parties from those that are like-minded, to stand for elections and to exercise their preference as to who should best represent their interests in government.

Irrespective of political affiliation, we are all citizens of Kurdistan. We might not all agree on certain policies, we might not share a common perspective on where our government should go or how best it can accomplish our goals – but we are still brothers and sisters. Consequently, we must respect the institutions and processes democracy provides us to negotiate our differences in a way that is peaceful and fair to all. The votes of our people determine the political faith of our country. These processes cannot be over-turned through violence or the irresponsible attempts of the few to impose their will by force. Doing so would fatally undermine the values we all hold so dear and jeopardize all of the other rights the practice of democracy grants us. Chaos or dictatorship is the alternative,
www.ekurd.netwhere the desires of a few determine the fate of all. All people of Iraq know the outcome of such a system well and we will not return to it. In our pursuit of our common goals of progress and democracy, let us not trample the very ideals we aim to protect. 

As citizens, we are ultimately responsible to one another for the peace and stability of our society. We are each and all responsible for the safety of our fellow citizens, for the protection of their private property, and respect of their basic human rights. As such, we must stand united against any act of violence or any person that would seek to deny our fellow citizens their right to personal security. As a people, we have fought and suffered – we have lost children, brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers – all in the name of freedom and peace. We can no sooner deny our commitment to peace and democracy, than trample on the revered memory of those we lost in our struggle to achieve a just and democratic Kurdistan.

For this reason, we must deny those that would try to turn us against one another or seek to exploit our legitimate grievances for their own selfish ends. We all share a common goal – to see a strong, democratic, stable, and prosperous Kurdistan. We must all alike condemn any violence, regardless of its target or motivation. It violates the rights of all when government or party buildings are attacked or burned, when protesters are harmed, when policeman are shot. It is an affront to us all to silence a television station or person trying to voice an opposing viewpoint to a hostile crowd. The rights of all must be respected equally.

Thus, we must stand together as a society to deny the actions of the radical few. Those that would seek to attack peaceful protesters have no place in our society. Those that seek to burn media stations or violently attack their fellow citizens with a different viewpoint or destroy any party's property or kill policemen or maim security personnel – all who engage in violence regardless of its motivation, have no place in a free and democratic society ruled by law.

So to all my fellow citizens, to all those who love and admire Kurdistan, let me be clear. Only those who stand on the side of peace, stand with me. No one who engages in violence or seeks to steal the rights of his fellow man, practiced in peace and in consideration of his societal obligations, will find sympathy in Kurdistan.

Over the last few days, a growing number have stood in solidarity for peace, and their chants of “peace, peace, peace!” speak for all. Let everyone who loves Kurdistan stand, brother to sister, for the rights of all and the peaceful progress of our nation. Let all our political leaders stand publicly for the peaceful negotiation of our difference. Let us all work together toward that end. We have a long way to go – there must be both social and political reforms, there must be new opportunity, there must be an end to corruption wherever it is found. Our differences should not divide us, they should strengthen us, each one presenting his ideas and competing in honesty and good faith for the progress of our nation. This is the very essence of democracy - United even in our difference, we can realize our dream.   

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