Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative

The Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI) is dedicated to bringing together Iraqi and international civil societies through concrete actions to build together another Iraq, with peace and Human Rights for all.

The Bad Conditions of People’s Livelihood and Non-Violent Strike in KRG

بەر دەستە بە زمانی کوردی

Awat Hassan Abdulla – Civil rights activist

Paper presented at the ICSSI Annual Conference, 18th of January 2017, in Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan Region

Beforehand, I want to say that the population of this region is almost 5 million people, more than 1, 600.000 people are employees!!

In the past, people in power have appointed tens of thousands of people without any real need, and thousands of people who lack expertise have been appointed in important and leading positions. Those people whose hands were tainted red by the blood of the ones calling for freedom that they killed. Now those killers are getting paid monthly salary of martyrs. Sometimes the salaries of those killers and easy doubles or triples the amount of salaries got by the families of real martyrs (We also have people who get their own martyrdom salaries). Like wise, each of the ruling parties are paying salaries to hundreds of people in the name of veteran Peshmergas for no other reason but to win their (voting right, loyalty, and conscious), consent to stay in power when all these salaries are spend from the Kurdistan’s budget. On the other hand, we can see that for 100 days demonstrations are held constantly by teachers from: Slemani, Halabja, and the governmental sectors of Raparin and Garmina demanding their civil and legal rights that led to a continues boycotting in educational facilities. Despite these peaceful demonstrations and calls, authorities treated them indifferently, and it never had a clear answer to their demands. On the contrary, people in authority started using: violence, kidnapping, and burning the cars of these demonstrations’s leaders, and sometimes kidnapping members of their families and relatives.

In order to show what kind of a place is this, and this status quo is the result of what sort of past circumstances, I see it best that I take you to yesterday, so please join me in my journey.


1/ Kurds Strived for Democracy and human rights for a Long Time, but Another thing was Achieved.

It is clear to all that Kurdish people in general, and Kurdish people in Kurdistan Region in specific, for many years were in continues to have their human rights and their right of independence. For the sake of these noble causes, Kurdish people sacrificed hundreds of thousands of martyrs.


2/ Up-rising:

Fortunately, in 1991, and because of a strategic flaw by the Saddam Hussein’s Regime, and the intervention of world’s super powers, the uprising of most of the region’s poepls and with the participation of Peshmerga, many areas of Kurdistan/Iraq was freed from the control of this regime. Since that date, the administration of this region had its independence, but unfortunately, many of the faces that started ruling Kurdistan in 1991 are still within control in the main authority positions, and unless in rare cases, they have not been changes.


3/ The First Parliamentary Elections:

In 1992, the first parliamentary elections took place in KRG, but unfortunately the political parties instead of urging their members and supporters them to accept the election’s results, and to let the winner rule and the losers be in opposition, the two main armed parties did accept the results and this led to civil war. Thus, the brothers started to kill each other for the sake of: authority, money, customs income, and local income killing thousands of people!!!

As a result to all the above-mentioned, thousands of citizens migrated to other countries escaping: killing, war, and poor life conditions.


4/ Civil War and Dual Administration:

As a sequence and in a way or another, KRG was divided between the two main zones (PUK zone as green, and PDK zone as yellow) and each had its own: parliament, government, and authority.  There was a fierce competition to expand on the expense of the other. In this regard, they did not pull back for anything, and they resorted to getting the neighboring armies to make up for their defeat against each other. Meanwhile, each of these two parties started booting the infrastructure of Kurdistan and selling: electricity transformers, machinery…etc. to Iran. Part of the money went to buying guns for killing the sons and daughters of this Region, and the other part it was spent to have fun and travelling.

Also, people in power started establishing different companies without the minimum knowledge of Kurdish people. Each of these partied established some companies and in a way controlled the local market. As a joke here, they say “ You cannot start a bakery, unless someone in authority has a share in it.”

Thus, studying in (high schools, institutions, colleges and universities) and to be appointed different jobs, as well as getting important positions in the government unless it is for nepotism and paying favours to others. Therefore, the president and ministers in political parties appointed people giving them important positions. Lots of gifted and educated young men and women’s potentialities were wasted because of this way in getting jobs. Instead of those young and gifted, people from these political parties and their relatives and acquaintances had benefit for these times.

The majority of: teachers, university lecturers, and employees did not have enough opportunity for training and developing their skills that leading to a decrease in the quality of both education and services.


5/ The Fall of Baghdad’s Regime:

Before the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and for the sake of getting benefit of his fall and the distribution of any source of wealth and money as a sequence of his fall, these two parities became closer to each other in a certain way reuniting the zones within their control into one zone of control, which in reality was either: 48% to one party and 52%to the other party, or 50% for each party.

KRG had a 17% on Iraq’s budget, and because this money was coming from Baghdad’s government they have appointed people with very big salaries. Because of this wave of big salaries and big opportunities of getting jobs, many people left their villages and got jobs as Peshmergas and became fighters that had a repercussion affecting agriculture and industry in KRG negatively. Those people left their herds and farms and became dependent on their monthly salaries with no other income to secure their living.

(In a statement by Maliki, he says that between 2003-2013 a total of 117 billion dollars were sent to KRG).

With this step, authority cause an immense damage to the future of KRG leading to the destruction of most of the villages that Saddam Hussein could not destroy with his military power.

As I presented earlier, the revolutionists of yesterday became the owners of big companies and businessmen publically. Some of them, as a result, step by step by the blessing of important people in the government got bigger and bigger to control big scale trades like: oil, gas, and land(such as tenders and investments)…etc. these kind of businesses became the main source of wealth and money to those people in power and their relatives where the profit reached billions of dollars.


6/ The Relationship between Hawler (Erbil) and Baghdad:

We have to mention that after the fall of Saddam in 2003, and within the enthusiasm of some of the neighboring countries and other countries of the world, a somehow-good relationship was there between Hawler and Baghdad. Within this relationship’s frame, people in here felt somehow at ease since the 17% of Iraq’s annual budget, which is KRG’s share. Unfortunately, because of the support of certain people and their encouragement, KRG government refused its oil to be supervised by the Baghdad’s government, this worsened the relationship between Hawler and Baghdad. This relationship kept on getting worse and worst till Baghdad’s government has decided to cut sending KRG’s share of Iraq’s budget.

Within all this the population of KRG are to pay the price for all the above. It is true that KRG is selling its own oil, and a 40 years contract with Turkey and 50 years of KRG’s future is talked about, yet all this is done with no filtration of parliament and lacks transperancy. Not the parliament, most of the minsters, ministry of justice, population, or the central government have any idea about how much oil is sold and what is the income of selling it!!!


7/ The Implication of ISIS War and the Fall in Oil’s Price:

KRG’s authorities, for more than a year now, have cut down the salaries of the employees to the half, or even more, because of the implications of the war with ISIS and the fall of oil’s prices.

This cause a lot of satisfaction among people leading to the loss of trust in the government and authority and asking the following questions:

-“Does cutting down salaries has anything to do with ISIS war or oil’s price?”

-“Why does not war and the economic situation does not have an impact on people in power?”

-“Why Baghdad’s government who is having the same war with ISIS and is affected by oil’s price is able to pay complete salaries to its people?”

If the war and oil’s price and their implication is true, then why none of those people in power has been affected by it? The number of their: bodyguards, convoys, villas, vacations, and other things were not affected by these implications??

If these implications are true then why lots of those people in power and parties are establishing new TV channels?!!!! That the expenses of these channels come from KRG’s budget, and it is through some of these channels that other people’s image’s is being distorted in the public eye because those people are being hated by the one owning these channels.

In brief we can say that KRG is being divided with corruption, that there is any sector within its frame that is not eaten with corruption starting from oil and gad trade to the smallest projects in the society.


8/ Does the current system provide for the real participation of all?

If one tries to look at the bigger picture of KRG closely you only see main political party and some passive political parties, and as some of political observers classify the participating political parties in the government as the following:

  • Political parties that are the leading thieves
  • Political parties that are partners of the main leading thieves.
  • Political parties that have no political will.
  • Political parties with not political experience.


Unfortunately one cannot make the distinction between the main three authorities in Kurdistan because according to me, there is no existence for “dispersion of authorities” anymore in KRG, and this is one of the fundamental pillars of democracy.


9/ The Legislative Authority:

Before hand you have to know that there was never had an honest election process in KRG, and the main political parties have tried all types of tools to play with election results.

Pardon me if I say that there is nothing called legislative authority!!!!

At a time when, because of a party’s order, for more than a year the president of the parliament cannot go to the capitol of KRG. Also, two of the most active parliament members of one of the political fractions (that one of them is the head of Human Rights Committee in KRG’s parliament) on their way to Hawler where not allowed to go there and were sent back to Slemani. Also you have to know that parliament is used as a tool to not allow the passing of legislations (an MP, who is the head of a committee, said that 80% of the legislations are not being sorted out). Not monitoring or watching can be useful for people since courts cannot do a thing in case of finding our about corruption cases. In many governmental facilities, in cases of corruption, getting information was hard to get. Thus, they do not allow the smooth going of: legislating laws, following up, and monitoring. Even if it worked to some extent, it would only be words on paper.

According to the data that I have, 80% of MPs are members of PDK party.


10/ Executive Authority:

Under the name of a “Kurdistan Regional Government” only PDK are the hours owners, and PUK is only the guests, and it is only through parties that minsters are appointed and practice their jobs.

In different governmental sectors only political parties have the final word, as I mentioned previously, especially PDK, and 90% of parliament employees are members of PDK. All the jobs’ offers and appointments are based on being members of political parties, and how much the appointed person for a certain job is serving that specific political party, not because of their capabilities or expertise.


11/ Judicial Authority:

Judicial authority had many observations on judge’s appointments, on sorting out different laws in courts, and on the way that judges deal with different cases.

According to my knowledge 80% of judges belong to a certain political party. Appointing the head of judges is exclusively ordered by the president of the Region (the case of the Region’s president is of such a long debate).

Till now courts could not solve the 6 journalists’ assassination cases to find the killers.

Courts never had a word on corruption cases; on wasting public’s money; on the selling of lands and farms for cheap prices…etc.


12/ Media:

At the climax of such an economic crisis where people are foced to sell their kidney’s to party for their children’s food and milk, hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on media by a political party. A total number of 365 employees were appointed in Halabja, Slemani, Raparin, and Garmian. This economic crisis has affected local and private sector media since money is cut down and people are paying less for advertisements. At a time when people are struggling to afford their daily bread, they cannot afford to buy a newspaper. Thus, two birds are killed with one stone: at one hand, the voice of independent media was decreased and hushed out as there is a lack on money, and on the other hand, the media of political parties was heard more. One political party is spending one billion dollar for its media annually.

The case has always been to stand against independent voices and media. Even advertising companies sponsor certain media channels since they belong to the parties that these channels belong too.

If any of the assassination cases where to any of these journalists belonging to any political parties then their cases were to be solved and finding the killers were a piece of cake.

The negativity of these political media channels is that they only have one opinion and opposing all the other voices against it. This kind of media was the reason to lead to civil war that thousand of people were the victims of it. Distorting the noble causes of many incidents of dissatisfactions by people (18 February).

Thus the contribution of such kind of politically driven media is creating dishonest media channels that lie to people and falsify the truth.


13/ NGOs:

These political parties have funded tens and hundreds NGOs to beautify the real face of authority. They had no important role in changing the flaws in difference governmental and social sectors, but on the contrary the contributed to the waste of natural and public resources.

It never had any efforts in trying to satisfy the voices calling for change, or even tried to stop violence and the use of physical and mental terror towards people. These political parties are trying to show that it is striving to foster non-violent strife in solving problems in the society and government.

With such kind of acts, people have lost hope in getting a legal representation for them in the government. The truths of elections results are being forged; that people and journalists and civil activists are being assassinated; that natural resources is being stolen; that lands are being sold for cheap prices; that trades are being set with ISIS. Despite all of that international society is still willing to help; it is still providing it with weapons to fight ISIS that till recent incidents it used these weapons against unarmed civilians.