Speech of President Barzani to Kurdistan National
Assembly, September 20, 2001
The Kurdistan National Assembly in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan,
opened its second session for the year today in the presence
of the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] President Masud Barzani.
At the opening, President Barzani delivered a speech on the
latest developments in the world and their impact on the people
of Kurdistan. Following is the complete text of his speech,
translated to English from Kurdish:
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. Esteemed
sisters and brothers. On the occasion of the second session
of the tenth year of the Kurdistan National Assembly I wish
you success and hope that you will continue your service to
the people and to the country.
The world is heading towards a new era. September 11 is a historic
day for the Kurds. It is the day in 1961 when the Baghdad regime
attacked Kurdistan with its aircraft and bombed villages. The
Kurdish people were forced to carry arms, defend themselves,
and start the September revolution. On this occasion, I express
my warmest greetings to you and to the Kurdish nation.
September 11 has also become a very important day in the history
of the world. As we saw, a very grave event that nobody but
terrorists could have imagined took place in the USA. It was
a terrorist act. A large number of innocent people became the
victims of this crime. We express our condolences to the United
States Government and to the families of the victims.
This is not a new position we are adopting. The KDP has always
been against terrorism. The Kurds and the KDP were many times
victims of terrorism.
All of us know that the USA entered World War II after the
attack on Pearl Harbor, which is located thousands of kilometers
away from the US capital.
The USA also entered war in many other parts of the world when
its interests came under threat. But this time, the attack was
in the heart and capital of the USA. That is why a very strong
US reaction is expected.
It is of utmost necessity that all of us follow the events
very carefully and wait and see how the situation develops.
As with the aftermath of the Gulf War, I believe that a new
situation will emerge.
Fortunately - and I can say this with some satisfaction - we,
the Kurds and the KDP, have never ever resorted to any act of
terrorism. We have always been against it. Although we have
been victims of terrorism so many times, our reaction never
undermined the high values and morals of Kurdishness and humanity.
Quite often, wars do take place between countries, parties,
people and governments. But wars have their rules. Those who
do not observe these rules have no religious or human values.
The killing of women and children anywhere in the world is a
crime that should be condemned, and we condemn it.
We are proud of the noble manners of our leadership during
the revolution. Nobody today can tell us that we have ever carried
out a terrorist act. This is a source of pride for us. We are
seeing the fruits of this noble behavior. I have to mention
here that it was in the upbringing of the immortal Mustafa Barzani,
who told us that we have to behave in this way. We will always
uphold this behavior.
It is obvious that the majority of the Kurdish nation are Muslims
and we are proud of our religion. We know that the Islamic religion
is distant from such acts and crimes. Islam does not allow the
killing of women and children. Those who carry out these acts
under the pretext of Islam betray Islam.
I think that a great duty is placed on the shoulders of Islamic
clerics, the heads of the Islamic states, and parties and political
defend Islam. It is a great injustice and sacrilege to label
Muslims as terrorists just because of the crimes of some confused
people who come from Islamic societies who do not have any religion,
scruples or humanity. We urge that Islam should not be linked
to terrorism. They are two completely different things.
You all know that we have frequently been asked by journalists
and other people whether we have been worried about groups trying
to emerge in Kurdistan, similar to those in Algeria, who carry
out terrorist acts under the veil of Islam? I always explained
that we do have Islamic parties and organizations, but they
are legitimate ones. They carry out their work within the framework
of the law. We hope and believe that Kurdistan will never become
Algeria or Afghanistan or other places with situations we are
all well aware of.
I hope that these [Islamist] parties carry out their duties
before the others. Alas, we all saw last year that a group of
confused people emerged in Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan.
They bombed places and humiliated dignified women of this city.
They started issuing fatwas as
if they were acting on behalf of God and the Prophet. They declared
whoever they wanted as apostates and shed their blood. At a
time when it is not known what religion they themselves follow,
the only clear thing is that they are blood thirsty killers.
In this respect, the KDP has taken necessary measures. As you
know, the KDP has sacrificed. They martyred our friend and colleague
Kak Franso [Hariri, assassinated February 2001], whose presence
is missed today, especially in this Assembly. Now we hear they
are gathering in the areas of Tawela and Biyarah [near Halabja]
in order to turn Kurdistan into a base for terrorism and terrorists.
We want to announce that the KDP insists that we will do our
utmost to cooperate with all parties of Iraqi Kurdistan, especially
with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan [PUK], to prevent Kurdistan
from becoming a base for terrorists under any name or cover.
Freedom is everyone's right, but there are laws that we should
all observe. Freedom does not mean that you impose your view
on others. This is dictatorship and violates the rights of others.
The people of Kurdistan should be free. We know there are limits
beyond which we should not venture. We are proud of our traditions
The behavior of these groups who act against freedom in the
name of Islam is tantamount to a relapse to the dark ages. This
is not Islam. No religion can accept this.
It is not the duty of the KDP alone. It is the sacred duty
of everyone in Kurdistan. We must maintain our values and at
the same time build barriers against terrorism and terrorists.
It is impossible for the Kurdish nation to reach its goals by
terrorism. We can never gain anything by terrorism. We would
lose all that we have. For this reason, we believe the Kurds
and Kurdistan are above what a group of confused people do or
Kurdistan needs to be safeguarded, and this is not the duty
of one party alone. We reaffirm here that the KDP will be at
the forefront in fighting terrorists and terrorism.
I call on the competent bodies of the Kurdistan Regional Government,
especially the police and security [Assayish] to believe in
themselves, uphold the law, and provide security for the people
of Kurdistan. I also urge all the parties in Kurdistan to support
these government organizations. I am ready to personally do
whatever I can to support these two institutions in order to
ensure peace and security for Kurdistan.
The people of Kurdistan deserve to live freely in their country.
No one has the right to infringe on someone else's freedom.
This goes back to the upbringing of every family. They have
the choice to live the way they want to. Veiled, unveiled, etc.
This is a matter of choice for every family and no one has the
right to interfere with that choice.
There is another very important point. The law on firearms
was passed by this parliament a long time ago. I urge the Kurdistan
Regional Government to implement the law. Those who are not
supposed to carry arms should not do so. There are people, some
tribes, who have firearms. For this reason, there should be
a program. I think these weapons should be possessed legally
under a police license or they should sell them to the government
in order to be kept in depots to be used by various legal organizations
like the police, security, and the army.
It should be illegal to possess weapons without a license.
There should come a time when whoever is caught with weapons
in his possession without a license should be punished and the
weapons confiscated. I think that the weapons should be bought
from the people during a specified period of time so that people
will not sustain loss.
As for the parties, their headquarters should be guarded by
legal means, by the police. I do not want to name anybody, but
I want to direct this to everybody. After a specified period
the police and security would be free to close down any party
headquarters and arrest anybody who possesses weapons illegally.
The parties will be responsible to comply, no matter where
they came from or the party they belong to. Because we want
to create a demilitarized Kurdistan that is free of terrorism,
I call on all parties to be cooperative on this issue.
Whenever firearms are there, people are killed over small issues
and disputes. Those who are not supposed to carry arms should
not have them. We need to move towards civilization. It is not
an easy task. But if we do not work for it, we will remain the
same, without change.
The other point that I want to mention is the peace process.
I want to reaffirm our commitment to the Washington Agreement.
Once again, I want to say that it is the best agreement. Fortunately,
we have made good progress with the PUK and we have taken many
positive steps. Proper grounds are there. Trust is being restored
to a great extent and this is vital for the peace process to
I hope and I am optimistic that obstacles in the peace process
will disappear. I am confident that we will not lose what we
have gained. We should make progress. Both sides are cooperative.
In so far as they were concerned, we also thank other parties
who were cooperative and supportive of the peace process.
Undoubtedly, peace is the only solution for our problems. War
was never a way to solve any problems. I reassure the Kurdish
nation that we are determined to implement the Washington Agreement.
We have made great progress with the PUK. We are both determined
to establish an everlasting peace.
At the end, I wish you all the success.