Zornige Proteste auch im kurdischen Teil Iraks

Der Eindruck, im kurdischen Teil Iraks würde der kurdische Nationalismus, das kurdische Unabhängigkeitsstreben die allermeisten Kurden hinter die beiden herrschenden Parteien KDP und PUK drängen, brach bereits nach den letzten Regionalwahlen zusammen. Mit der neu gegründeten „Bewegung des Wandels“, Goran, erhielt eine Partei auf Anhieb fast ein Viertel der Stimmen, die sich für ein Ende der autoritären Herrschaft der beiden vom Barzani- bzw. Talabani-Clan geführten Parteien KDP und PUK einsetzte und für ein Ende der allgegenwärtigen Vetternwirtschaft und Korruption.

Seit einigen Wochen werden auch die drei kurdischen Nordprovinzen, die die nahezu unabhängige Autonome Region Kurdistans bilden, von starken Protesten erschüttert, die sich wie überall gegen die schlechten Lebensbedingungen, Arbeitslosigkeit, mangelnde bürgerliche Freiheiten und die „Monopolisierung wirtschaftlicher und politischer Macht“ richten. Wie es scheint, könnten sie durchaus genügend Druck entwickeln, um zumindest vorgezogene Wahlen zu erzwingen. Mit der bisherigen, sich auf den kurdischen Nationalismus stützende Clanherrschaft, lehnen viele Gegner von PUK und KDP auch allgemein die auf ethnisch-konfessionellen Proporz ausgerichtete Politik im Irak ab. Für kurdische Nationalisten sind sie daher Verräter an der kurdischen Sache, die Schaffung eines unabhängigen Kurdistans. Entsprechend gewalttätig gehen sie zur Sache.

Es begann mit einer Erklärung von Goran am 29. Januar, in der die Auflösung von Parlament und Regierung sowie transparente Neuwahlen innerhalb gefordert wurde. U.a. heißt es darin: „Wir sind Zeuge des Falls von Dikatoren und totalitärer Staaten […], aber die Verantwortlichen in der Kurdistan-Region haben keinerlei echte Schritte in Richtung Demokratisierung des herrschenden Regimes unternommen.“ Die Führer der Region nahmen die Herausforderung ernst und versetzten die Region in Alarmzustand.
Vor allem in der Provinzhauptstaat Sulaimaniyya fuhren an wichtigen Orten Panzer auf. Hier hat Goran, deren Führer zum guten Teil einst prominente PUK-Mitglieder waren, ihre Hochburg. Der Peshmerga-Minister erklärte seinen Einheiten seien in voller Bereitschaft, bereit jeden Zeit einzugreifen. (Tanks in Sulaymaniyah, niqash, 7.2.2011)
Es war dann auch Sulaimaniyya, wo es zum ersten tödlichen Zusammenstoß kam. Als einige hundert oder tausend, überwiegend junge Demonstranten Demonstranten vors Hauptquartier der KDP zogen, schossen Polizei und Peshmergas in die Menge töteten drei Demonstranten und verwundeten über 40 weitere (siehe At least two protesters dead, LA Times, 17.2.2011 und ausführlicher: Opposition Party Demands Dissolution Of Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government, Musings On Iraq, 18.2.2011)
Die Proteste in Sulaimaniya steigerten sich daraufhin täglich, Studenten begannen sich mit einem großen, zeitlich unbefristeten Sitzstreik zu beteiligen. Immer wieder kam es zu schweren Zusammenstößen mit Regierungskräften und Peshmergas. Die Zahl der Verwundete liegt mittlerweile weit über hundertfünfzig.
Als am Montag 21.2. über 4000 Männer und Frauen die Verwaltungssitze der Stadt belagerten, um die Freilassung der Gefangenen durchzusetzen und die Situation erneut zu eskalieren drohte, eilten Kulturschaffende, Medienleute und andere namhafte Persönlichkeiten herbei, um sich als Schutzschild vor die Demonstranten zu stellen.
Am nächsten Tag versammelten sich 6.000 zu einem Sit-In und verlangten neben Reformen auch die Absetzung und Bestrafung für die die für die Gewalt gegen Demonstrationen verantwortlich sind. Am Mittwoch waren es bereits über 10.000 Demonstranten.
Die Proteste weiteten sich rasch auf das übrige Autonomiegebiet aus. Auch in Halabja gab es bei Zusammenstößen zwischen Demonstranten und Polizei und Peshmergas einen Toten.
„Lange Zeit als kulturelles und ökonomisches Zentrum betrachtet, verwandelte sich Sulaimaniyya in eine militarisierte Stadt“ stellte Reuters am 22.2. fest
Dessen ungeachtet brachte der Freitag, der „Tag des Zornes“ im ganzen Irak, die bisher größte Demonstration. Die Schätzungen der Zahl der Teilnehmer, die sich auf dem Maidany Azady in Sulaimaniyya versammelten, reichen von 7.000 im Bericht der kurdischen Zeitung Rudaw aus Erbil über 35.000 – 40.000 im Augenzeugenbericht eines in Sulaimaniyya lebenden Bloggers Karzan Kardozi bis zu 60.000 – 100.000 auf Twitter. Die mittlere Zahl erscheint mit Blick auf die Bilder des Bloggers am plausibelsten.
In Sulaimaniyya blieb es einigermaßen friedlich, was evtl. auch den „Weißen Gruppen“ zu verdanken ist, die sich ganz in weiß gekleidet, immer wieder schützend vor Demonstranten stellten (s. Kardozis Blog). In zwei kleineren Städten gab es Tote In Kalar, 140 km südlich von Sulaimaniyya, wurde ein Demonstrant getötet und 27 verwundet, in Chamchamal traf es ein 10-12 jähriges Kind.
Im Erbil wurden Demonstrationen durch Blockaden der KDP, die die Hauptstadt der Autonomen Region kontrolliert weitgehend unterbunden. Die Universitäten der Stadt wurden aufgrund angekündigter studentischer Proteste bis April geschlossen. (Most Massive Anti-Govt Protest in Sulaimani, Rudaw, 25.2.2011)
Der Ruf nach Rücktritt der kurdischen Regionalregierung wurde im Lauf der Proteste immer lauter. Auch Goran hat sie mit dem Rückenwind der Demonstrationen erneuert. Sie ist auch die einzige Partei, die voll und ganz hinter die Protestbewegung steht.
Die Reaktion der Machthaber ließ nicht lange auf sich warten. Sieben Parteizentralen wurden überfallen, verwüstet und z.T. niedergebrannt. Der unabhängigen Fernsehstation NRT, die zu ausführlich über die Proteste berichtete, ging es nicht besser. In ihrer Presserklärung macht NRT die PUK verantwortlich. Die Blutspur eines angeschossenen Angreifers habe in Richtung der Residenz des Parteiführers Jalal Talabani geführt, der gleichzeitig auch Präsident Iraks ist.
Auch zahlreiche Journalisten, die die Demonstrationen begleiteten, wurden, wie die irakisch-kurdische Nachrichtenagentur AKNews berichtete, angegriffen.
In der BRD berichtete nur die junge Welt einmal etwas ausführlicher über die Geschehnisse im kurdischen Irak. (Nick Brauns, Erneut ein »Tag des Zorns«, jW, 25.02.2011)
Eine ausführliche tägliche Zusammenstellung von Meldungen, Fotos, Videos, Blogger-Berichten etc. über die Proteste im Irak findet man auf einer Irak-News-Seite von WL Central (WikiLeaks news, analysis and action)
Anbei zur Veranschaulichung einige englische Kurzmitteilungen aus irakischen Medien. (Die Teilnehmerzahlen scheinen in der Regel, wenn man sie mit den Bildern vergleicht, wie in unseren Medien deutlich zu niedrig angegeben zu werden.)


Tanks in Sulaymaniyah: „We are not the same as Egypt or Tunisia“
niqash | Zanko Ahmad | mon 07 feb 11
http://www.niqash.org/content.php?contentTypeID=75&id=2777&lang=0
On the morning of 29 January 2011, the Kurdish opposition Movement for Change published a statement demanding the dissolution of the Kurdish government and calling for elections within three months.
It also called for a ban preventing the security forces and the Kurdish intelligence from interfering in political affairs, and for a return of public property that was seized by the two political parties.
Since then, there has been a high state of alert in the Kurdistan region, in particular in the city of Sulaimaniyah, where military tanks can now be seen in the streets, near almost all civilian and military institutions.
Two military tanks of the Peshmerga forces are stationed on a hill, a dozen meters away from the office of the Prime Minister, Barham Saleh, in the city centre. The Peshmerga minister in the Kurdistan Regional Government, Sheikh Jaffar Mustafa, says his forces are “in a full state of alert and ready to assist the police and security forces if needed, because of fears that the statement may lead to chaos.“
[…]
Certainly, Change’s demands are unequivocal: “We are witnessing the fall of dictators and totalitarian states (…), but officials in the Kurdistan region have not taken any real steps towards the democratisation of the ruling regime.“
[…]
A few hours after the opposition statement was published, the two ruling parties issued a strongly worded statement, accusing Change of „anarchism and sabotage.“
[…] But he [chief editor of Hawalati] thinks the two main parties „are undemocratic and will not accept changes of such kind and magnitude. Citizens will be the first losers if chaos breaks out.“
This time, though, only the
[Kurdistan] Islamic Group supported Change, while other opposition forces sided with the ruling parties. […]
1 killed, 33 wounded in Sulaimaniya protests
Aswat al-Iraq, 2/17/2011 6:25 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141044&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: One protester was killed and 33 others wounded off the fourth branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) building in Sulaimaniya on Thursday, a medic said.
“A dead body and 33 people wounded were received by the Sulaimaniya Emergency Hospital after violence broke out when demonstrators calling for better services, an end to corruption and political reforms as well as support for the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia pelted the KDP’s fourth branch building with stones,” the medic told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
The stone-throwing prompted the KDP building guards to shoot fire in the air in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators, he added. Aswat al-Iraq correspondent had said five protesters were wounded in the demonstration.
An informed source said that the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniya is witnessing an embarrassing security situation. “The Kurdish peshmerga forces are deployed on a number of streets and near the key partisan and government headquarters to wield control over the situation.”
Five Dead, Dozens Wounded in Iraqi Kurdistan Protest
RUDAW (Erbil), 17/02/2011 15:32:00
http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurds/3468.html
image
Five people were killed and dozens wounded Thursday as over a thousand protesters took to the streets in downtown Sulaimani. —– Photo/lvinpress.com
ERBIL, Iraqi Kurdistan: Five people were killed and dozens wounded Thursday as over a thousand protesters took to the streets in downtown Sulaimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, throwing rocks and trying to storm the headquarters of one of the ruling parties, according to local media reports and unofficial sources.

The bloody incident happened in front of the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, after KDP security men shot at the protesters during their storming of the building.
The dead reportedly included a child under 18 years old, and two journalists were among the wounded.
The protesters were calling for more political and economic reforms in the Kurdistan region’s government, dominated by the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.
[…]
Although the demonstration comes after statements made by Kurdistan’s major opposition Gorran party, which called upon the “corrupt” Kurdish government to step down, Gorran officials have denied being behind the bloody demonstration.
[…]

Peshmerga forces arrive in Sulaimaniya
Aswat al-Iraq, 2/18/2011 2:05 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141053&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: Peshmerga forces arrived on Friday in Sulaimaniya to maintain security and to protect institutions and public properties after clashes between protestors and guards of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, during which scores were killed or wounded, according to a media source from the KDP.
[…] Seven persons were killed and 47 wounded when protesters clashed with police on Thursday in the northern Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya.
[,,,] Sulaimaniya Governor Dana Ahmad Majid announced a curfew from 7:00pm on Friday until 7:00am on Saturday because of the deterioration of security condition.
SH (TP)
Sulaimaniya protesters dispersed by water cannons, shots in air
Aswat Al Iraq, 2/19/2011 8:17 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141070
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: Security forces in Sulaimaniya dispersed protesters in the Kurdish city Saturday by using water cannons and shooting fire in the air, a local security source said.
“The protesters, located about 500 meters away from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), were forced to withdraw to side roads after security forces used water cannons and shot fire in the air,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
A medic told Aswat al-Iraq that eight people, including a policeman, were wounded in the incidents.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Sulaimaniya to demand better living conditions, an end to corruption and political reforms.
Unrest continued Friday in Sulaimaniya, where personnel from the security agencies, police and peshmerga (Kurdish forces) were intensively deployed to keep order and security and prevent a possible outbreak of violence.
Protests and acts of violence sparked the concerns of the semi-autonomous Iraq Kurdistan region inhabitants that they might move to other areas.
KDP deputy leader Nejervan Barzani had said on Friday that the politburos of the KDP and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the two main Kurdish parties, discussed during a meeting ways to unify stances regarding the incidents that broke out in Sulaimaniya and efforts to solve the problems.
AmR (TS)
Kurdish TV Channel burnt down while carrying reports on Sulaimaniya events
Aswat al-Iraq, 2/20/2011 10:56 AM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141075&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: A group of armed men have attacked the office of the Kurdish (NRT) Channel in northern Sulaimaniya, completely burning it and wounding one of its guards, a security source said.
„About 30 armed men have broken through the Kurdish NRT Channel in the so-called „German Village“ north of Sulaimaniya, wounding one of its guards in the chest and completely burning its office. This caused disruptions to the transmission of the channel that used to carry out reports about recent demonstrations and the city,“ the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
[…]
Sulaimaniya Govenor, Pahruz Mohammed, had announced a curfew between 07:00 p.m. and 07:00 a.m. local time, whilst three headquarters of the Kurdish opposition Goran (Change) Movement were set on fire in Arbil, Dohuk and Suran cities, causing no injuries.
[…]
Meanwhile, an eyewitness told Aswat al-Iraq news agency that the said Channel „had been carrying out an experimental transmission over the past three weeks, and began its actual transmission three days ago, and had been carrying out reports about the demonstrations in Sulaimaniya, during which it carried video shots of a young man, called Rizwan, who was shot dead during the demonstrations, along with other shots by the security forces on the demonstrators, close the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Noteworthy is that the said Channel, led by Twana Othman, who held the post of Editor-in-Chief of the Kurdish Hawlaty newspaper, that used to carry reports against the government of north Iraq’s Kurdistan Region’s government.
Gunmen torch Iraqi TV station that showed protest
AP, 20/02/2011
http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=24233
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq, (AP) – Gunmen burst into a Kurdish television station in northern Iraq on Sunday, shooting up the equipment and setting fire to the building, apparently in retaliation for footage they aired earlier in the week of a deadly protest, station officials said.
[…]
Press Release From NRT: Iraqi Kurdistan: Independent TV headquarters burnt down By Hiwa Osman, February 20, 2011
http://hiwaosman.com/2011/02/iraqi-kurdistan-independent-tv-headquarters-burnt-down/

Forces suspected of ties to the authorities completely destroyed and burnt down Iraqi Kurdistan ’s first private Television Station, Nalia Radio and Television, NRT.
Around 50 armed individuals masked and in dark uniform stormed the gate of a residential community, the German Village, in the early hours of the morning of February 19th, in Sulemaniya.

1-2 2-2
3-2 4-1

The gunmen forced their way to the headquarters of NRT inside the compound, and attacked the facility, by first shooting at the essential broadcast equipment and ultimately burning down the three-storey building with all its studios and other equipment. The entire headquarter of the station is now reduced to ash.

The gunmen, who wounded one of NRT’s guards, subsequently left the compound and left behind them a trail of blood pointing in the direction of Dabashan Hill, where the residence of President Jalal Talabani is in Sulaimaniya.

The blood trail was created when one of the attackers was wounded as the guards fired at them when they were trying to enter the compound by force. NRT’s cameras recorded the blood trail all the way to Dabashan Hill near President Talabani’s house in Sulaymania.
[…]
The owner of the station, Shaswar Abdulwahid, says that he received a number of threatening remarks from senior politicians of the city and was asked to stop broadcasting.
[…]
NRT is the first private television station to start broadcasting in Iraqi Kurdistan. It started broadcasting on 17th of February, and covered the demonstrations in Sulaymania.The station broadcasted exclusive footage of opening of fire against the demonstrators during the demonstrations of Sulaymaniyah.
The destruction of the station comes at a time when all the other satellite TV channels are unable to provide a balanced coverage of the events of Sulaymaniyah.
Journalists attacked during Sulaimaniya protests
AKnews, February 21st 2011 11:06 AM

http://www.aknews.com/en/aknews/1/219779/
Sulaimaniya, Feb.21 (AKnews) – While they were covering the clashes between the protesters and the security forces in recent demonstrations in Sulaimaniya, a number of journalist were attacked by the security forces Sunday, source said.

[…]
“We have shot the scene where the security forces brutally beat the Kurdistan News Network (KNN) reporter,” Nuri said.
The KNN is the only TV channel for the major opposition group, the Goran (Change) Movement. The party has openly demanded reshuffling the Kurdish government and parliament, a call described by the ruling parties in Kurdistan as “sedition.”
The top officials affiliated with either the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have branded the latest unrest in Sulaimaniya as “vandals who seek to divide Kurds.” The Kurdish Prime Minister Barham Salih described the protests as “sedition.”
[…]
Goran alleges some seven headquarters of the party were set on fire after the second demonstration in Sulaimaniya Feb.17. That day the demonstrators attacked a KDP headquarter in the city with stones. There is inconsistency as to who sparked the confrontation in the first place. A private TV and radio channel, NTR, was also attacked by 50 gunmen who set fire to the building, causing $10 million damages as well as injuries to two of the office guards.
Qadir Hama-Jan, the chief for Sulaimaniya security service said his office has commanded the forces to “treat the protesters gently and protect the public.”
[…]
Cultured people form human shield to protect protestors in Sulaimaniya
Aswat Al Iraq, 2/21/2011 8:07 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141109&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: Scores of cultured people, media men and civil society organizations formed on Monday a human shield between security forces and protestors to avoid acts of violence.
Dozens of young men, lawyers, media men, civil society organizations’ members formed a human shield between security forces and thousands of demonstrators in the city of Sulaimaniya to prevent any acts of violence,” al-Bashri Shawan Rauoof, an activist, told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
“More than 4,000 protestors, including women, gathered at the center of the city, in a cloudy and rainy weather, calling for releasing detainees,” he added.
A medical source had said that three people were killed and 121 were wounded in the protests in Sulaimaniya.
Hundreds of protestors went to street last Thursday calling for better services and living conditions and fighting corruption.
SH (TP)
Citizens stage sit-in rise to 6,000 in Sulaimaniya
Aswat Al Iraq, 2/22/2011 5:58 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141121&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: The number of citizens who staged a sit-in in central Sulaimaniya city on Tuesday went up to 6,000, calling for political reforms in the province, according to an activist.
“A total of 6,000 persons are staging a sit-in in central Sulaimaniya, demanding political reforms in the government and suing those who opened fire on protestors in the past days,” Sahwan Raaoof told Aswat al-Iraq news agency, noting that the sit-in is peaceful and has not witnessed any acts of violence.
“The sit-in will continue amid a desire from residents of Halabja city to take part in it,” he added.
A medical source had said that three people were killed and 121 were wounded in the protests in Sulaimaniya.
Hundreds of protestors went to street last Thursday calling for better services and living conditions and fighting corruption.
SH (TP)
Sulaimaniya University students declare open-ended sit-in
Aswat Al Iraq, 2/22/2011 6:35 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141123&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: Students of Sulaimaniya University staged on Tuesday an open-ended sit-in until their demands are fulfilled, which are suing those opened fire on protestors and making political reforms, according to a well-informed source.
“All Sulaimaniya University students started on Tuesday (Feb. 22) an open-ended sit-in at 11:00am until 2:00pm until their demands are fulfilled,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency, noting that the sit-in will continue in the coming days.
A medical source had said that three people were killed and 121 were wounded in the protests in Sulaimaniya.
Hundreds of protestors went to street last Thursday calling for better services and living conditions and fighting corruption.
SH (TP)
10,000 protestors gathered in Sulaimaniya
Aswat Al Iraq, 2/23/2011 9:28 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141139&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: Around 10,000 protestors gathered on Wednesday in central Sulaimaniya, calling for political, economic and social reforms, according to a well-informed source.
“The protestors gathered in Darki Sara region, central Sulaimaniya, calling for economic, political and social reforms,” the source told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
Hakem al-Sheikh Latief, a lawmaker, joined the protest for the first time,” he added.
“The lawmaker addressed the protestors, urging them to remain peaceful.” Hundreds of protestors went to street last Thursday (Feb. 17) calling for better services and living conditions and fighting corruption.
SH (TP)
Halabja supports Sulaimaniya anti-govt. protests
Wednesday, February 23rd 2011 10:27 AM http://www.aknews.com/en/aknews/3/220265
Halabja, Feb.23 (AKnews)-  Hundred took into streets in Halabja, 240 km  northeast of Baghdad, Tuesday to shore up support for the protesters in Sulaimaniya. Reports say at least 20 people have been injured in the ensuing clashes between the protesters and security forces.
Xopeshandani Slemani 19/2Halabja’s protest rally follow similar but more crowded protests in Sulaimaniya, the city center of the second largest province in the three-governorate Kurdistan Region, northern Iraq. In attacks by gunshot, baton, tear gas, water cannons and stone so far 124 people have been wounded and three killed. Security forces are among the wounded in the unrest during the past week.
Eyewitnesses told AKnews after the protesters chanted slogans; they attacked the headquarters of the 12th branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the city with stones.
This will become the third KDP headquarter attacked during the protests.[…]
The protesters demand the Kurdish government and parliament resign to give way for “early transparent elections”, what Goran called for almost three weeks ago.
[…]
Cop killed in Halabja protest
Aswat Al Iraq, 2/23/2011 6:42 PM
http://en.aswataliraq.info/Default1.aspx?page=article_page&id=141135&l=1
SULAIMANIYA / Aswat al-Iraq: One policeman was killed in the protest staged in the city of Halabja in Sulaimaniya on Wednesday, according to local police chief.
“The cop was killed in acts of violence accompanied the protest in Halabja today,” Anwar Haji told Aswat al-Iraq news agency.
He did not give more details.
Scores of citizens staged a massive demonstration in Halabja on Wednesday calling for better services, improving living condition and fighting corruption.
SH (TP)
Sulaimany: Day Ten of Protest, Friday Prayer at Maidany Azadi, Death in Chamchamal
Karzan Kardozi
The Moving Silent, February 25, 2011 by
http://themovingsilent.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/sulaimany-day-ten-of-protest-friday-prayer-at-maidany-azadi-shooting-in-kalar/
Today was the Tenth day of Protest in Sulaimany, Iraqi Kurdistan. Maidany Azadi (Badarky Sara) seemed like Egypt’s Tahrir Sequare as thousands participated in Friday Prayer and in  the rest of Iraq, The Day of Rage was on.
[…]
Today, as many as 35,000 to 40,000 people were at Maidany Azady (Bardarky Sara), like all other days, there were many Young Men, but more older  men also joined in. They had more loudspeakers, the main events was holding the Friday Prayer in the square. There were many religious leaders, they made speeches and few of the protesters chanted “Allah u Akbar, Allah u Akbar”. Then Friday Pray , the Mullah spoke about better times and a better future of Kurdistan and Iraq,  they would chant after him “Amen, Amen”.
Call on Militias and Police not to shoot on Protesters, “We all are brothers”, loud cheers, “Let us look into Egypt, let us be like Egyptian, for their Revolution was a peaceful one”, louder cheers, “For Police, don’t shoot at your Brother”, the biggest cheer.
The place was packed. Heavy Security present no just in Maidany Azadi, but also in the neighborhood and roads all over Sulaimany.
[…]
Some of the Speakers refereed to the protest as “Revolution” and that the protest was led by Young Men and the people and no Political Party was behind and they should stay way and not get involved in leading the Protesters, it is People Revolution.

Credit to Dastwr

White Group (Peace Group)
[…]

Kirkuk - security - demonstrationsDemo waves through Kurdistan Region
AKnews, Saturday, February 26th 2011 5:37 AM
http://www.aknews.com/en/aknews/4/221050/
Erbil, Feb. 25 (AKnews) – Several demonstrations took place on Friday in Kurdistan Region, some of which were peaceful and without incident while others saw some violence and deeply regrettable deaths and injuries among citizens and the police.
[…]
Today’s protests took place in Suleimaniah , Kirkuk, Ranya, Chamchamal, Sayid Sadiq and Kalar, among other places. In Chamchamal, Kalar and Sayid Sadiq, the KDP’s offices were fired on but the police were able to push back those who were causing the violence.
Most Massive Anti-Govt Protest in Sulaimani

RUDAW (Erbil) 25/02/2011 18:09:00
http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurds/3473.html

SULAIMANI, Iraqi Kurdistan: Around 7,000 Iraqi Kurds protested Friday in Sulaimani, the largest demonstration so far in nine days of continued unrest in the city, in which protestors have expressed their rage against corruption and nepotism in the semiautonomous Kurdistan region, demanding its government to step down.

“Down, down, down!” was the refrain chanted continuously throughout the day by the largely younger protestors, including students, teachers, lawyers, clerics, laborers and doctors. Although demands differed from profession to profession, everyone interviewed by Rudaw uttered one common slogan: “The Kurdish government is corrupt.”
[…] Although most of the protesters are Gorran supporters, the movement is not solely Gorran-driven. They are protesting about lack of basic services, such as electricity, governmental corruption and nepotism in the hiring of government employees.
[…] Although three protestors have so far died and more than a hundred have been wounded as a result of clashes with security forces in the Sulaimani demonstrations, the Friday protest was peaceful.
[…]
However, protests in other areas of Kurdistan Friday were not as peaceful. In Kalar, a town located 140 km south of Sulaimani, one died and 27 were wounded, according to Arkan Mohammed, a spokesman for Kalar’s hospital.

In addition, a child, aged 10 to 12 years old, was killed, and five were injured in Chamchamal.

Sulaimani’s protests are expected to continue until protestors’ demands are met.  Meanwhile, most universities in Erbil, the region’s capital, were closed Thursday until April 1st, after students had announced plans to stage a massive protest.

Erbil has been largely blockaded by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the dominant party there, and people from other Iraqi and Kurdish cities have largely been prohibited from traveling to Kirkuk city, according to government officials and eye-witnesses in these cities.

Friday was announced as a “Day of Rage” in Baghdad and other Arab-dominated Iraqi towns and cities. Thousands of people poured on to the streets of Bagdad and demanded more accountability from their elected leaders.

But, Kurdistan’s protests are of a different nature, as they pose a direct threat to the hold on power of Kurdistan’s two ruling parties, who won in elections two years ago.

Although the next parliamentary election is scheduled for 2013, both Gorran and the demonstrators have demanded early elections. A meeting was held Friday between Gorran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa and top PUK officials, including Hero Ibrahim, who is PUK leader in Sulaimani and wife of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

PUK media outlets have reported that the PUK is willing to dissolve the current government and hold early elections, if other parties, including the PUK’s staunch ally, the KDP, agree. Both Gorran and the PUK agreed in the Friday meeting that Kurdistan must have a more inclusive government.
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