Iraqi Kurds demand referendum

A group of Iraqi Kurds have presented UN officials with a petition signed by 1.7 million Iraqis seeking a referendum on whether northern Iraq should be made an independent Kurdish state.

    Kurds of northern Iraq have enjoyed self-rule since 1991

    "The Kurds under international protection have been

    exercising de facto independence in South Kurdistan [northern

    Iraq] for the last 13 years and they do not wish to be

    controlled by an Arab-dominated Iraq," the group said at the United Nations' New York headquaters on Wednesday.

    Iraq's Kurds are ethnically, culturally and philosophically

    distinct from Iraqi Arabs and "for the last 80 years have been

    subjected by the Iraqi Arab state to repression, enslavement

    and genocide", a group statement said.

    Former Iraqi governments have always denied such allegations.

    The delegation of Kurds, including two from northern Iraq

    and five currently living either in the United States or

    Europe, identified themselves as "nonpartisan".

    Decision pending

    All the signatures were gathered in Iraqi Kurdistan,

    Najm al-Din Karim, president of the Washington Kurdish

    Institute and a member of the delegation, said.

    "The Kurds under international protection have been

    exercising
    de facto independence
    in South Kurdistan

    for
    the last 13 years and they do not wish to
    be

    controlled by an
    Arab-dominated Iraq"

    Statement by Iraqi Kurd delegation to the UN

    "We have presented the petition to the Iraqi government as

    well," he said.

    Delegation members said a decision on a referendum probably

    would have to wait until after scheduled 30 January elections as

    the country is now run by an unelected interim government,

    which includes Kurds.

    Iraq's current leaders have ruled out a separate Kurdish

    state.

    So has the UN Security Council, which has adopted

    several resolutions calling for the preservation of Iraq's

    territorial integrity.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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