Kurdish opposition in Iraqi Kurdistan rail
against new law to regulate demonstrations
By Nawzad Mahmoud
Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — After the Parliament of
Kurdistan passed a law that regulates demonstrations
and protests by 54 votes from the two ruling
parties, the opposition groups have objected to the
approval urging Massoud Barzani, the region’s
president, to not sign the law until it will be
The opposition parties believe that the possible law
restricts freedom of expression since it requires
people to get government permission prior to staging
“%70 of demonstrations are spontaneous here in
Kurdistan,” said Karwan Salih, a lawmaker affiliated
with Gorran, the major opposition party meaning
change in Kurdish.
“If 2000 people suddenly pour on the streets, should
government arrest them?” said Salih, adding that the
law was aimed at “blocking” rather than “regulating”
However, other lawmakers affiliated with the ruling
parties defend the approved law as necessary to help
civilize demonstrations and prevent them from
turning into chaos.
Angry demonstrators gather near fire during riots in
the Iraq northern Kurdish town of Halabja. A
14-year-old boy was killed when Iraqi security
forces fired into a massive crowd of Kurds. A tense
demonstration that took place in 2006 and led to the
burning of the memorial of the victims of Halabja.
“I have seen many other
similar laws in other countries; this law is
excellent,” said Sherwan Haydari, a parliamentarian
with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP),www.ekurd.netone
of the two ruling parties of the Kurdistan region.
Haydari believes that there is no such a thing as
“Even in European nations this term doesn’t exist.
If you organized a demonstration, then what would be
so spontaneous about it?”
But one lawmaker with the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK), the other ruling party of the
region, shares a similar view to that of the
opposition parties on this matter.
“Instead of permission, only notifying the agencies
should be enough. But this is my personal point of
view. The agencies should be notified 24 hours in
advance,” said Rizgar Muhammad Amin, a lawmaker with
In a region where the political parties rather than
an institutionalized government rule, the opposition
parties question how a government agency could
permit a demonstration to be staged against itself.
“We consider this law as a step backwards,” said
Bayan Muhammad, a parliamentarian affiliated with
the party Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), demanding
the president to not approve the law.
“Massoud Barzani is the president of all Kurds and
has a broader view than the members of the
Kurdistani Alliance,” added Muhammad referring to
the joint bloc of the two ruling parties.
Protests have sometimes turned to violent rallies in
Kurdistan as demonstrators faced barrier from police
and security forces. One of the unprecedented
demonstrations occurred in Halabja in 2006 when the
protesters burnt a memorial that was built for 5,000
victims of the chemical gas attack of Saddam
Hussein's regime in 1988.
In that unrest one protester was killed as clashes
happened with police and authorities arrested
recognized faces afterwards for burning the
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