Support referendum for independent Kurdish state
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The Kurds in norther Iraq need our support! They are holding a referendum for independence on September 25th and we need to get our governments to agree to recognize the outcome of the referendum, and then, if the pro-independence side wins, to help implement the outcome.
The Kurds in northern Iraq were gassed and massacred repeatedly under Sadam Hussein, with hundreds of thousands of Kurds killed and millions displaced. The Kurdish language and culture was illegal until 1991. Since 1991 the west has enforced a no-fly zone over the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRI) and they have become western allies - until last year the only dependable military force in Iraq (and Syria). They have provided the bulwark against DAESH, helping to hold them off and then push them back. Until 2016 Kurdish fighters were the only fighters who were successful fighting DAESH: when DAESH starting spreading like wildfire across Iraq in 2014, it was the Kurds who stopped their advance and then started reclaiming territory.
The Kurds as a people have been divided into four countries (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria), and they are minorities in all of them. Kurdish language and culture are distinct. After World War I France and Britain drafted the Treaty of Sevres in 1920 which gave the Kurds their own homeland, but the Treaty was never ratified, and ultimately they were just bundled into the other countries being created. Since 1991 KRI has developed its own regional government and has operated fairly independently of Baghdad, although coordinating with it and nominally reporting to it, but relations between the Kurds and the government in Baghdad have been difficult. Baghdad does not care much about the Kurds as they are a minority population and are not Arabs.
Now the Kurds of northern Iraq are holding a referendum on September 25th, a referendum for independence, so they can have their own country and be free of interference and threats. Baghdad says they will not recognize the results and many other countries, especially Turkey, are trying to force the Kurdish government to call off the referendum. The only way to ensure the safety and security of the Kurds is to let them run their own affairs - and so far they have done fairly well. They have run elections seen as free and fair, they provide universal free health care and universal free education, and have set about installing infrastructure such as roads. It is important these gains are not lost - Kurdistan is one of the only places in the Middle East that is safe and which guarantees religious freedom. The Kurds have suffered so much over so many years - and yet have bounced back and rebuilt themselves, in a positive and forward-looking manner. Please let us send a message to western governments - Europe, North American, Australia, and New Zealand - to recognize the results of this referendum, and if the result is a vote in favor of independence, to assist the Kurds in separating from Iraq and helping them in the task of setting up their own state (as the world has done elsewhere).
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