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 Iraqi Kurds protest against Iran and Turkey in Holland 

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Iraqi Kurds protest against Iran and Turkey in Holland  3.9.2011    

September 3, 2011

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, —  More than 30 Kurdish and Iraqi organizations demonstrated against the Iranian and Turkish bombardments of Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Friday in the Dutch city, The Hague.

Organizers said they hoped the protests would push the international community to convince Turkey and Iran end their strikes on Kurdish rebels along Iraq’s border. While Turkey and Iran regularly fight the rebels, the attacks have heated up this summer, claiming the lives of nearly a dozen civilians and displacing scores of families.

“While there are more and more positive changes in the Middle East, the aggression of the Iranian and Turkish regimes against Kurdish civilians continues,” said Kurdish protest organizer Ali Ghahrmani.         

Demonstrators in the Hague against the Turkish air strikes in Iraqi Kurdistan region. Photo: Wladimir van Wilgenburg/rudaw
A statement signed by the 33 organizations sponsoring the event claimed they represented Iraqis of diverse ethnic backgrounds, including Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and Turkmen. There were also organizations representing Kurds from Turkey like FEDKOM.

Ali Afrasiab, 26, a Kurdish organizer, told Rudaw that although Turkey and Iran claim to target Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) rebels, “The victims of this conflict are civilians. You have seen the pictures of 7 civilians who were killed (in a Turkish strikes), and whose families fled their homes. They destroy nature, target civilians and bomb Iraqi territory.”

Al-Hakim Abdul Razzaq, chairman of the Iraqi House Union in the Hague, told Rudaw that Iraqi Arabs turned out in support for the Kurds.

“Every time, Iran and Turkey bomb our land Iraq and Kurdish villages. Today we came to show our solidarity with the Kurdish people,” he said.

Nihad al-Kadi of the Iraqi Democratic Movement in Holland, told Rudaw that “Turkey and Iran export their problems to Iraq, and should their issues in a democratic way. Why is Turkey supporting Gaza or the Arabs while they’re bombing Kurds?”

On August 21, a Turkish air strike in Sulaimaniyah province killed a family of seven, according to Kurdish officials. Turkey denies the civilians were killed,www.ekurd.netand have suggested the report was propaganda by the PKK.

The anti-insurgent cross-border operations were criticized by Human Rights Watch on Friday, who suggested at least a dozen civilians had been killed.

“Iran and Turkey should do all they can to protect civilians and their property from harm, no matter what the reason for their attacks in Iraqi Kurdistan,” Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East director, said in a statement on Friday.

“Year after year, civilians in northern Iraq have suffered from these cross-border attacks, but the situation right now is dire,” Stork said.

By Wladimir van Wilgenburg

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