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Iraq: Security Forces Shut Down Organizations Linked to PKK in Sulaymaniyah

Iraq: Security Forces Shut Down Organizations Linked to PKK in Sulaymaniyah

Wednesday, 28 November, 2018 - 08:45
Kurdish employees take part in vote counting, during parliamentary elections in the semi-autonomous region in Erbil, Iraq September 30, 2018. (Reuters)
Sulaymaniyah - Ihsan Aziz
Kurdish security forces “Asayish” began shutting down several headquarters and offices of political parties and civil organizations linked to Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), banned in Turkey.

On October 29, deputy prime minister of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Qubad Talabani, issued an order to close the offices and headquarters of all parties and organizations without a formal license issued by the KRG.

The resolution, however, is only limited to parties and civil organizations ideologically associated with the PKK, such as Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) and its civil women's organization. The Workers' Party is known for adopting the principles of imprisoned leader Abdullah Ocalan.

However, several parties recently established in the Region continue to perform their activities normally, even though they have not obtained their official authorizations yet.

Commander at PAK, Hussein Karkuki, described the Kurdish authorities' decision as political and lacking any legal basis, given that his party has been officially licensed by the federal authorities in Baghdad since 2018 to exercise their political work throughout Iraq.

Karkuki told Asharq Al-Awsat that the party had been asking the KRG to issue them an official permit to carry out their activities, but the authorities ignored their request.

According to the Law, the Ministry of Interior has to either refuse or approve such request within 45 days, otherwise the party is considered officially licensed.

“So our party is legally licensed and we will not leave our headquarters and will not close it,” asserted Karkuki.

He explained that the security authorities of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the ruling party in Sulaymaniyah, had asked his party to comply with the decision to avoid any “embarrassment” with the Turkish authorities.

PUK is under direct pressure from Turkey to ban the activities of parties and organizations loyal or linked to the PKK in Sulaymaniyah. In turn, Turkish authorities will normalize its relations with the Patriotic Union, and lift the air embargo imposed on Sulaymaniyah International Airport.

"Even if we close our headquarters in Sulaymaniyah, we will continue our political activities in other forums and communities," Karkuki confirmed.

Political parties had emerged in the region mid-last year and have not received official authorization. For instance, Coalition for Democracy and Justice party was founded by Iraqi President Barham Salih last spring, however, it is not authorized yet.

Few weeks ago, the party changed its name to Patriotic Alliance after Salih resigned from the party and joined the PUK.

Member of New Generation Movement, Aram Saeed, said that his party, which did not get official authorization yet, won four seats in the Iraqi parliament and eight in the Region's parliament during the elections that took place on September 30. He considered having members in both parliaments is in itself "an authorization to perform political work."

Saeed told Asharq Al-Awsat, “Our movement is engaged in political activity without any hindrances, and no security authority ordered us to close our headquarters,” adding that they will act accordingly if they were ordered to shut down.

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