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 The 20th Anniversary of the Parliament of Kurdistan: An Open Letter from the Federation of Civil Society Organizations FCSO

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The 20th Anniversary of the Parliament of Kurdistan: An Open Letter from the FCSO  21.5.2012  
Federation of Civil Society Organizations
Ekurd.net 







May 21, 2012

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — The 20th Anniversary of the Parliament of Kurdistan.

An Open Letter from the Federation of Civil Society Organizations

The restrictions on the freedom of speech is a reversal of the democratic process and the genuine role of the parliament.

Dear Members of the Parliament:

The limitation of the freedom of expression and speech is a violation of human right principles, democracy and the provisions of the Iraqi constitutions. It is, further, a violation of the laws and provision put forward by the Parliament of Kurdistan during the past 20 years. Restrictions on the freedom of speech and limitations of the freedom of expression is a significant threat to social stability and progress in Kurdistan region and it is a worrying sign about the future prospects of democratic development in the future.

Following the toppling of dictatorship in 2003 with the help of the friends of Kurdistan and Iraq, many opportunities emerged for the consolidation of basic social and political rights including political freedoms, fair elections, media freedom, demonstration right and political and civil society assembly and organization rights. We, in the civil society, were a strong partner to promote, protect and fulfill many of the basic human rights of the people in Kurdistan and Iraq. We are proud that a host of laws and legislations were passed that are, to an extent, positive and helpful for the fulfillment of the above-mentioned goals. Laws such as the ‘Civil Society Organizations Law’, ‘Journalism Law’, and ‘Domestic Violence Law’ were among those that we helped to pass and are assisting the consolidation of the progress toward democracy. Other laws, however, can be seen as among the worst in the region in terms of providing the legal bases for human right violations; such as ‘demonstration regulation law’ and ‘the security council law in the Kurdistan region’.

As we indicated, we are proud to be a catalyst agent in passing the first group of laws. But we are equally frustrated and would like to voice our concern and criticism toward the second group of laws and legislations. We were particularly frustrated and angry with those members of parliament who voted for those laws and legislations and went further to organize demonstrations and civic activity to expose the detrimental nature of the laws that were passed with their votes.

Dear Members of the Parliament:

With regard to the freedom of expression and speech, you are aware that there was no specific law to protect the rights of the people to access information. This was negatively impacting the ability of journalists and other activists to get public information. It was further resulting in enhancing violations against journalists to the extent of exposing them to torture, physical and mental assaults and abuses. We, in the federation, voiced our concerns on many occasions against those violations. It is worrying that currently there are increasing attempts to further limit the freedoms and rights enshrined in the international and local laws and declarations. It is particularly worrying that these attempts are advanced under the excuses of protecting sacred religious provisions.

Dears

We acknowledge that the religious rights of all Iraqis are protected in the Iraqi constitution that views Islam as a major source of legislations and laws in the country. This principle is applied to all laws including the Journalism law and other laws and legislations regulating the lives of Iraqi all over the country and in Kurdistan. Therefore, the use of religious excuses to further limit the freedoms of speech and expression in the region is not justified. This attempt can surely result in disturbing the social order and reverse the progress toward democracy and respects for human rights in the region. That is the case because of the fact that this new wave of attempts to impose limitations on the freedom of expression is coming after a fabricated story. The publication of an article in Chrpa magazine http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2012/5/state6218.htm , which appears as a carefully planned plot, and the turmoil that it resulted in, doesn’t justify the passage of legislations that can further undermine freedoms of speech and expression in the region.

Dear Members of the Parliament:

The problems facing the Kurdistan region will not be solved by issuing even more laws and legislations that violate basic human rights and freedoms. The problems in Kurdistan are due to the lack of respect for the rule of law. The very laws that you work on passing are not implemented and are violated on daily bases due to the absence of independent institutions to apply them. It is encouraging that a number of the members of your parliament agreed to this characterization recently.

The curses of the fragmentation of the government between two KDP and PUK administrations, the failure to abide by the rule of law and corruption are what need to be solved in this region. The only hope for the people of the region is the ability of a free and independent media to expose those violations and problems. It was those courageous media outlets and few journalists who took on the difficult task of fighting darkness and injustice and in the process were exposed to torture, threats and genuine trauma. Therefore we strongly voice our discontent toward this draft bill that is presented to you which aims at an even further limitation of human rights and legalization of the violations against freedoms in the region.

We hope that this letter would prove as an awakening call to all of you about the risks involved in passing such a law by the Parliament. The mere fact that the bill is not announced and is not presented to the public for discussion raises concerns about it intensions. We also support all of the campaigns and attempts that are aiming at preventing this bill from being ratified as law and join all of the anxious voices that are concerned about the freedoms of expression and speech in the region.

We would like to remind you that limitations and restrictions of human rights were not the solution for any issue or problem. The privilege of difference in opinion and freedoms of expressing those opinions offered humanity the opportunity to advance and prosper throughout history. Therefore, we call on the Parliament not to function as a tool for limiting freedoms of expression and human rights in the region. This is risky since freedom is the basic building block of democracy. If the Parliament of Kurdistan doesn’t comprehend this basic principle, it is no different from the dysfunctional parliaments imposed on the people during the era of Saddam’s regime and other parliaments throughout the Middle East including Iran, Saudi Arabic, Egypt and Kuwait. If that is the case then there are nothing is there in the parliamentary experience in the new Iraq and Kurdistan to be proud of.

The Federation of Civil Society Organizations
Sulaimaniyah May 19, 2012

PS. This letter was published in many Kurdish homepages and news agency's on 19th of May2012.

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