Statement on the recent protests and violence in Kurdistan Region

The last several days have been a difficult time for the people of the Kurdistan Region. What started as a peaceful protest in Slemani, Garmiyan and Halabja was exploited by opportunists to destabilize communities and pursue political agendas.

Violence, arson and looting has damaged government property, homes and businesses. It has disrupted peaceful communities and cost the lives of innocent people. Our condolences are with the families of those lost in recent days and our thoughts are with injured, including men and women in the security services.

The right to protest is a vital part of our democracy. It is afforded by the laws of the Kurdistan Region and we are determined to protect and facilitate it. There is, however, zero justifiable link with the unwarranted vandalism and violence witnessed in recent days.

We call on the people of Kurdistan Region to remain vigilant and reject efforts exploiting their grievances. This is a difficult transitional period. It requires us to rally behind far greater issues rooted in our national security interests; we must speak in one voice to protest against Iraq’s unfair treatment of the Kurdistan Region.

The Iraqi Government ignores its constitutional obligations to the people of the Kurdistan Region. Its continued aggressive military buildup – in Makhmour and elsewhere, and economic embargo are punitive measures. This policy, including withholding the budget, is a collective punishment designed to sow tensions and divisions in the Region’s social and political fabric.

We call on security services to continue protecting communities and public property from violence and attacks.