On 25 September, 3.5 million people (97.7%) voted for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan. Aso Kamal of the Worker-Communist Party of Kurdistan and a Coordinator for the Centre for independence of Kurdistan spoke to Solidarity.
We have been campaigning for a referendum since 1999.
We have had conferences in Kurdistan and across Europe, Canada and Australia and we have lobbied for support for a referendum. The issue has come to the fore since federalism has been in collapse across Iraq since the rise of Daesh.
The Baghdad Government is Shia Islamist and they have opposed Kurdish rights, especially in disputed areas like Kirkuk. The EU Commission, UN and Russian Embassy refused our requests to monitor the vote and uphold our right to self-determination under the UN Charter.
In the UK The Minister of State for the Middle East for North Africa, Alistair Burt MP, wrote to me saying that our priority should be to fight ISIS and that this referendum is a distraction and you should be supporting the Iraqi Government fighting ISIS!
But the vote has happened so we want recognition for the outcome. Baghdad are trying to sanction the Kurdish regions, closing airports and Iranian backed militias have threatened to attack Kirkuk. We completely condemn the Turkish and Iranian Government threats against the Kurdish people.
Now we want support from unions, workers organisations and others to show they support this basic human rights of the Kurdish people. We want a secular state in Kurdistan, with equal rights for everyone.
We think an international conference supported by the UN to move forward on building a state and dealing with Baghdad and the other nations is the way forward.
Barzani wants to go back to Baghdad and negotiate with the Iraqi Government. They want to appeal to Sistani, the Shia spiritual leader and have some kind of negotiation. Baghdad want them to renounce the result of the referendum. We absolutely reject this.
We have to go to the UN and ask them to uphold our rights. They should recognise Kurdistan as a state. Through the UN we can put pressure on Turkey, Iran and others to stop them making these threats.
The majority of Kurds support the result whether in Iraq, in Turkey and Iran as well as internationally. It has been taken very positively in the region. This is why Turkey and Iran are so afraid of the result, because others in Kurdistan will ask for the same rights.
When we were in Kurdistan we supported and organised demonstrations to against the Baghdad’s Government’s offices and helped to monitor the voting and ensure people could use their vote.
Our priority now has to be winning full recognition of the result and putting pressure on the Government to respect it.