Kirkuk Meeting with out Kurdish representatives

2008-06-23  


Iraqi Turcoman Front – ITF / Soitm is organising a meeting on Kirkuk in the European Parliament, hosted by Ana Maria Gomes (SP). But the meeting is not sponsored by any political group in the EP. Despite the fact that the Kurds are majority in Kirkuk, they are not invited. Kurdistan Region’s Mission to the EU and Kurdish representatives in Brussels are reacting strongly.
 
 
Kirkuk Meeting with out Kurdish representatives 

Ararat News – (ANP) – Roger Alan and James Allori, 21/6/2008 / Brussels – Iraqi Turcoman Front – ITF / Soitm is organising a meeting on Kirkuk in the European Parliament, hosted by Ana Maria Gomes (SP). But the meeting is not sponsored by any political group in the EP. Despite the fact that the Kurds are majority in Kirkuk, they are not invited. Kurdistan Region’s Mission to the EU and Kurdish representatives in Brussels are reacting strongly.

The conflict and complications of the oil rich city Kirkuk in Iraq, has been always a serious issue, not only in the Middle East, but it in the Western countries. The involvement of the neighbouring countries such as Turkey, Syria and Iran in Kirkuk create more problems. Tens of thousand Kurds who constitute the majority in the province have been forced to leave their home during the Arabisation policy of Saddam Hussein. Today, and after 5 years since the downfall of  Saddam’s dictatorship, the Kirkuk issue is still with no solution.

This week the Iraqi Turcoman Front organisations with cooperation of some remnants of Saddam’s Arab Baath party are planning a meeting in European Parliament (EP). In a press release issued by the Turcoman Front, the organisers have explained the aim of meeting is ; “To convene representatives of Iraq’s new institutions, with outside policy makers with an interest and opportunity to influence the reconstruction of the Iraqi state, in an effort to ensure that the next crucial steps in the reconstruction process proceed in a manner consistent with the principles of democracy, human rights, and with the genuine inclusion of all affected communities.”

But the Kurds who are the majority in Kirkuk area are not invited. Most Kurdish organisations in Brussels and The Netherlands played down the significant of this meeting. 

ANP has interviewed the organiser of Kirkuk meeting, Mr. Sheth Jerjisthe, Chairmen of the Turcoman organization SOITM that is closely associated with the Turcoman Front. Kurds and many other are accusing the Turcoman Front as a “strong right-wing organisation supported by Turkish deep forces”. But we use the ping pong tactic on journalism and talk to all parts in conflict.

Interview with SOITM, Sheth Jerjis ; We dont invite the Kurds

Mr. Sheth Jerjis, in first coming Monday and Tuesday, 23 and 24 of June, you are organizing a meeting regarding Kirkuk issue in European Parliament. Could you tell us what this meeting is all about ? 

-The meeting is about Kirkuk problem and article 140 defining the alternatives, the views of Kirkuk’s Turcoman and Arabs. Two Council members from Turcoman group and two from Arabic group will present their views on the situation in Kirkuk, what happened after US occupation, and article 140 etc.

So there are no any Kurdish representative invited, even not Kurds from Kirkuk, Only Turcoman and Arabs? Why?

 – Yes, we have invited only Turcoman and Arabs, but not the Kurds.

 What is the population of Kirkuk at the present? And what is the population of Turcoman community in Kirkuk? 

 – Kirkuk population is around 1,400,000 and maybe 300,000 of them are Turcoman

 How sure are you of  the Turcoman population? Is this an official statistics? 

 – No, I am not sure, well, its very difficult to answer your question. I do believe that the percentage of Turcoman population is about 30 % of Kirkuk’s population but not sure because many things has been changed.

 According to the last two elections in Iraq in 2005, how many percent or how many of Turcoman have voted or supported the Turcoman Front? 

 – The Iraqi Turcoman Front (ITF) participated in both the national and the provincial elections. All what the ITF got was around 70,000 votes.

 What do you think is the population of the Kurds in Kirkuk ?

 -It is not so easy to answer. the demography of Kirkuk region is changing. There is an increase in the population size. It is about 600,000 and most of them are Kurds. Generally speaking I would say that 700,000 Kurds are now living in Kirkuk.

 So the Kurdish population who is now living in Kirkuk  is more then 700,000 and yet you are not inviting any representative from them!, How are you going to “solve” the Kirkuk issue without talking with the Kurds ?

 -The problem is that now Kurds have their Regional Government and they are giving information, organizing meetings. The aim of our meeting is to present the views of Turkmen and Arabs. We will have 40 minutes discussion time, whereby the Kurds can say their opinion, if they come.

But you are not inviting any representative from the Kurds? 

– We did invite Mr. Burhan JAF, head of mission of the Kurdistan Government  to the EU but he turned our invitation down. 

Did you invite Mr. JAF formally to speak in your meeting and express the view of his government or you have just invited him like a none-participant?

 – No we didn’t. The KRG-EU Mission has send us a reply to our normal invitation that he wouldn’t participate in meeting organised by us. He believes and accuse us of close association with the ITF. He said that ITF is a MIT agent (spy) of Turkey who is undermining the democratisation process in Iraq).

 

OK, what about the Turcoman representatives in Kurdistan Region or Turcoman members of the Kurdistan Parliament ? Or any of the Turcoman ministers in the Council of Ministers of the Kurdistan Government? . Did you invited any of them ? 

-No, we did not.

But the Turcoman parliamentarians in the Kurdistan parliament and those in the Kurdish cabinet were elected by Turcoman people living in Kurdistan Region ?  

 -We don’t respect and recognise those elections. The Kurdish President Barzani is not much different (than)  Saddam Hussein.
How many Turcoman were killed, prisoned  and deported by Saddam’s old regime?

-Its true that many Turcoman politicians killed by Saddam Hussein. But you should make difference between Turcoman and Kurds. Kurds have been fighting the Iraqi (Saddam) government for 50 years and they have weaken the Iraqi (Saddam) government and killed many Iraqi soldiers. Turcoman didn’t fight the Iraqi (Saddam) government. 

And how many Turcoman were/are mistreated, killed or deported by Kurdistan Government? 

No comment ….

Do you recognize the Kurdistan Government which is elected by millions of Kurds, Turcoman, Geldo-Assyrians ? And what about Federalism ? 

– Federalism is not a good idea because Iraqi population is highly mixed of Arabs, Turcoman and Kurds. 

So you don’t recognize the new Constitution of  federal Iraq and article 140 that is approved by 80 % of the Iraqi population ? 

– What referendum? All that was false.  I don’t believe in article 140, but now Arabs and other groups learned to deal with this situation.

Kurds fought and defend the rights of all minorities in Iraq esp. in the Kurdistan Region for so many years. They have paid a heavy price for that; from chemical attacks to the genocide of more then 200,000  victims who have been killed by Saddam’s dictator policy. Kurds defended also Turcoman rights, Geldo-Assyrians and Armenians. And now in the Federal Kurdistan Turcoman have several radio stations, televisions, newspapers, schools, colleges. Their culture and identity are recognised and no one is threatening their way of life. Why are you so anti-Kurds in all of your activities?

-It will be better to meet and talk about all those points

As you said yourself, ITC and you are accused by Kurds and many others as collaborators working with the Turkish secret services to destabilize the new federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Are your organisation and ITC asking for more rights for the Turcoman?

-We are asking for a unitary (centralised) Iraq with democratic principles. But there are also other Turcomans parties who are asking for federalism or for an autonomy. There are many views. 

You call yourself ;"a defender of human rights". In Turkey, there are around 20 million Kurds who are without any fundamental human rights, cultural rights. Kurdish children can not learn even  their own mother language. What are you asking for the Kurds in Turkey? 

– I support the Kurdish rights in Turkey.

You are organizing a meeting with Arabs who are defender of an independent Palestinian state. Do you believe that Palestinians should have an independent state?

-I would not answer your question in that way. The principles of human rights and democracy will solve everything in the Middle East. Palestinians case is another subject.

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Reactions :

ANP has talked to the Kurdistan Region Mission to the EU, some Kurdish representatives in Brussels and also to Ana Maria Gomes MEP (SP) who is hosting this meeting.

Burhan Jaf, the Head of Kurdistan Regional Government in EU Mission :

SOITM/ITF has a secret agenda

Mr. Burhan Jaf, an Iraqi Turcoman group (SOITM/ITF) is organising a Kirkuk meeting in the Brussels this Monday but there is no Kurdish representative has been invited, what is your reaction ?

I’m not surprise that no genuine representative from the Turcoman community has been invited to speak in this meeting. Not even Turcoman members of Parliament. Basically SOITM has invited pro -Iraqi Turcoman Front-ITF who is members are well known for their anti-Kurds. Sadly, SOITM is a front organisation working on behalf of the ITF in Brussels for the last two years. If one reads SOITM publications, you wouldn’t be surprise the hatred views they hold towards the Kurds.

Why you are refusing to participate in this meeting ?

– I have not been formally invited to speak on the panel neither called to be a guest in this meeting. However, my last year experience of similar meeting convinced me that SOITM’s objective is to undermine the achievement of the Kurdish people in Iraq and its security.

What is your opinion abut SOITM & Turcoman front (ITC) ?

– SOITM is a front NGO for ITF in The Netherlands. Both are two organisations known for its anti-Kurds policy. Furthermore, SOITM fabricate news of human rights abuses allegedly committed by the Kurdish authorities or Kurdish parties. ITF has voted against the new Iraqi constitution and constantly undermining Article 140 that calls for a peaceful and constitutional solution of the Kirkuk issue. They openly are calling for Turkey’s army to invade Kurdistan Region. ITF allied itself with the remnants of Saddam’s Baath party criminals.

So SOITM has a secret agenda under name of NGO and human rights issue ?But what about the Turcoman rights in Federal Kurdistan ?

 I believe that SOITM and ITF are pursuing an agenda supported by Turkey to undermine the positive role of the Kurdish people in building security and stability in the region. I think SOITM should carefully assess its present anti-Kurds activities. The Kurdistan government does recognise the rights of Turcoman community in Kurdistan and Iraq. Turcoman enjoy wider cultural freedom in our country. Since 1992, for the first time in Iraq’s history, the Turcoman are now having schools, colleges and institutions in their language. It gets financial grants from the Kurdish government. Twice, the majority of Turcoman voted with Kurdistan Alliance during both the national and the provincial elections.

-Since Iraq’s liberation in 2003, No Turcoman has forcibly been evicted from his/her house or being kidnapped or killed. In comparison to the rest of Iraq, Kurdistan is the most stable region. The question one should ask is this; why does ITF opposes the will of Kirkuk population to choose democratically the fate of their province. Moreover, SOITM has never cooperated with the Iraqi embassy in Brussels and The Hague nor with the mission of Kurdistan Region to the EU in Brussels. But strangely enough it has a warm and closely relations with Turkey’s embassies in Europe. This I hope the SOITM and ITF could answer in their meeting this week. 

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Reaction from MEP Ana Maria Gomes (SP) who is hosting the SOITM’s meeting:

                                               I am not supporter of SOIM / ITF

Ana Gomes Gomes, you arewell known in Kurdistan , Iraq and in the EP as a defender of Kurdish rights and Kurdish independent. But also defender of democratic, federal and united Iraq The Kurds are strongly criticising the meeting you are behind. Why do you support this group who are anti-Kurds and anti-federal Iraq?

– I am not a defender of the Iraqi Turkmen Front or of SOITM. I am a defender of the human rights – namely the freedom of expression – of all Iraqis, whether Kurd, Turkmen, Arab, Assyrian or otherwise. In my visit to Kurdistan I also had the opportunity to meet Turkmen representatives in the parliament in Erbil who disagreed with the position of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, or of SOITM. This is also part of the reality that makes up the complex Kirkuk issue.

– I am a staunch defender of a democratic, federal and united Iraq. I have highlighted on many occasions the important contribution of the Kurdish people to the stability and unity of Iraq. I have been defending the human rights of the Kurdish people since I served as a Portuguese diplomat in Geneva from 1986 to 1989, when I first heard about the Anfal campaign and the horrors of Halabja.

 – I visited Iraqi Kurdistan in February this year. I witnessed the degree of stability, development and peace that region of Iraq is enjoying and am convinced that the Kurdish people have shown great political vision since the fall of the Saddam regime in 2003. This is particularly the case with the Kirkuk issue, where the Kurdish leadership has acted with great flexibility and accepted an increased role for the UN in solving the dispute within the framework of the Iraqi Constitution and international law.

 – This meeting will be an opportunity to debate the future of the city of Kirkuk. In my intervention I will make sure to present my ideas about this issue, which are independent of the agendas of any particular religious or ethnic group.

But the Kurds from Kirkuk, and Turcoman parliamentarians from federal Kurdistan parliament are not invited…

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Pervine Jamil, Chairwoman of the Kurdish Bureau for Liaison and Information in Brussels :

 

-We are disappointed that Kurds are not invited to the Turcoman meeting.  Without Kurdish representation this meeting wouldn’t achieve its aim. Why? , because it is very important that the Kurds also say their point of views.

 – It is evident that the organisers don’t want to have the voice of the Kurds in the meeting room, because they know that they will reveal to the public the wrong and unfair ideas that the Iraqi Tucuman Front has over the Kurds. It is also evident that the problems can’t be resolved if each side persist to see and to give only his/her "reality". I hope that in the future, the Turcoman , Geldo-Assyrians and Arabs organisations in Iraq organise meetings in the European Parliament with the Kurds.

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Derwich M. Ferho, the Chairmen of the Kurdish Institute in Brussels :

 

– Historically, Kirkuk is a part of the Kurdistan Region. One of the main reason for Kurdish struggle over the past 50 years, was Kirkuk. In this struggle , hundred thousand of Kurds has been slaughtered by Saddam Hussein’s old regime. After decades of ethnic cleansing of Kurds, today the Kurds are again the majority in Kirkuk province. From that background, we do believe that the Kirkuk conflict cannot be solved without respecting the reality of the city Kirkuk  and the Kurdistan region. Such a meeting organised by anti-Kurds ITF of excluding the Kurds and with involvement of the neighbouring countries, it will bring only more conflicts and complications to the Kirkuk issue.

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