2006-08 Open letter to SI [WCPI]

An open letter to Mr George A. Papandreou, President of Socialist International

Copy to Miss Luis Ayala General Secretary

Dear Mr. Papandreou

As you are aware, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan has observer status in the Socialist International. You may be less aware that this party and its authorities rely on very oppressive and violent methods to silence popular protest in many cities and towns such as Kefri, Kalar, Darbanidkhan, Chemchemal and Sulaymania in Iraqi Kurdistan. They have relied on methods which we witnessed and experienced under the Ba’ath regime. This has been in particular evidence through the response of the PUK to recent demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan.

On 5, 6 and 7 August, people in the towns of Chemchamal, Kefri, and Darbandikhan protested for their basic rights, demanding water supply, electricity and fuel. They protested in a peaceful fashion, concluding their demonstration by presenting their demands to the PUK authorities. In response to this, the PUK’s security forces opened fire on the demonstrators. Tens of people were severely injured and hundreds were arrested and are now in prison. The security forces have also carried out subsequent raids of demonstrators’ homes.

This is not the first time that the PUK has committed such crimes; they have done so in the past when they attacked and killed protestors in Halabja, Ranya, Qaladza, and Koya.

Prior to the August protests, the PUK security forces shot at a workers’ demonstration outside the Tasloja cement factory and injured 13 workers. The behaviour of the PUK is unjustifiable.

Dealing with the PUK’s corruption, repression and violence is a daily reality of life for people in Iraqi Kurdistan. The PUK authorities have not responded to popular demands for improvements in living conditions. At a time when many people have no access to basic necessities such water and electricity, it is an outrage that the leaders of this party and their associates enjoy the highest standards of living.

When people have no access to these very basic necessities, they have no other choice than to demand that the ruling authority – in this case the PUK – provides them. They have a right not to be met with repression, violence and torture.

I urge you to consider whether these acts make the PUK’s continued membership of the Socialist International appropriate. I further urge you to stand with the Kurdish people and pressurise your observer member the PUK to cease its repression against the people of Kurdistan and agree to the following demands:

1. The release of all imprisoned protestors and stop using violence and shooting at people who protest for their rights.

2. Recognition of the right of protest and expression in Kurdistan

3. The supply of water, electricity and fuel to all.

Ultimately, I am sure that your intervention and support for the above demands can benefit the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. If the PUK continues its current actions, it can only damage the reputation of your International and, more significantly, bring further misery for the people of Kurdistan.

I am looking forward to your cooperation in this matter.

Yours sincerely

Xasraw Saya

Political Bureau,

Worker Communist Party of Iraq (Abroad Representative)

10/08/2006

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