Many thanks to W. Karda for sending this to Kurdistan Commentary…
The mentality of the Silemani people is that while they don’t like the ruling parties, they excessively hate the KDP, and especially its leader, Massud Barzani. This reason alongside what has been going on in the Arab countries, plus all the pumping and fueling by Gorran for days now, revolutionary sentiments in the people were extremely high in order to do something, and the most vulnerable are the youth. Looking at the bits and pieces of videos we have, it is clear that the vast majority of the protestors in front of (Branch 4) of KDP HQ were younger than 18.
Their method of protesting was incredibly uncivilized, throwing stones and shouting as if it was some sort of fun party. But nonetheless, nothing justifies showering the whole population with bullets, killing several and wounding dozens. They could’ve at least thrown some smoke gas, tear gas, rubber bullets. Hell, even flash bangs. But to use live ammunition on the sons of your own nation simply because they were throwing stones is barbaric at best.
This is not only widened the gap between the people and the ruling parties, or between the ruling parties and Gorran, but in fact it drifted apart the ruling parties between themselves. KDP was quick to accuse PUK, who have control over security in Silemani, that they didn’t do enough to protect the KDP HQ and hence forced their security guards to open fire in order to save themselves. This, in fact, is correct. PUK hardly sent any security force riot police to defend the HQ. Due to that, KDP’s (Zeravani) army, a highly professional, well-equipped, large force was sent to safeguard KDP areas in Silemani. Last night it was reported that the PUK forces, led by Kosrat Rasul, clashed with the Zeravani police in Bazian. But this morning reports say that the city is crawling with KDP forces, especially near (Branch 4), and it is reported than even more soldiers are near (Bakrajo), the gateway into Silemani, ready to come into the city if things go wrong. And Kosrat’s army has surrounded the city.
Today will be critical and will decide what may happen in the coming days, if things are calm today, then the situation will calm. But based on articles and reports, it doesn’t seem like that. Hawlati just reported that protesters have gathered again near (Branch 4) to resume demonstrations, Gorran is pouring more fuel onto the fire and have stated that those who shot at the crowd yesterday must be brought to justice. The KRG office in London was infiltrated by protesters in demand of DPK’s army leaving Silemani and also demanded justice on those who shot at the crowd. Many people have gathered near Gorran HQ in Silemani as a way to shield it after reports appeared claiming that the DPK is planning to overtake it after Gorran’s HQ in Hawler, Duhok and Soran were set ablaze and were looted. Also waves of arrests seem to be in motion. This morning at 10.45, an activist (Azhi Jamal) was arrested in his home and his laptop was confiscated.
An article just now from Hawlati reported that Dr.Barham Salih and Kosrat Rasul didn’t allow entry to any of the KDP forces and they have said (Silemani doesn’t need any more forces). It also states that PUK is currently negotiating with Gorran, and later today, PUK will have a meeting with DPK in (Salahdin resort). So there are conflicting reports about KDP’s existence in Silemani.
Things are still tense, more and more facebook pages are being made and it seems like today is a deciding factor, if protesters go out full force, which I doubt, it will wreck havoc in the entire region and will lead to more bloodshed. But if things calm down a bit and the political parties reach a conclusion, especially Gorran, which seems to have backed down a bit, then things will get normal after some time. We only have to wait and see and hope for the best.
It seems like the situation has calmed down a bit on the streets, as expected. But still the major headlines of today are:
- Inline with my expectations, Awene newspaper expects that the relation between the three main parties will normalize after the aforementioned meetings. Hawlati states that right now, the meeting is ongoing. Until the final decision is issued, the DPK security forces will remain on the borders of Silemani.
- Rudaw.net reports that last night, Mala Bakhtiar from PUK met with Gorran officials to calm the situation. Today, Gorran gave a statement demanding extensive meetings with the two parties in less than 48 hours. The statement in which Gorran accuses both parties and their security forces harshly can be found here.
- In another statement, both PUK and DPK have demanded the government investigate yesterday’s incidents and to find out who were behind the protests. (This is quite strange, because PUK and DPK ARE the government, so basically they are asking themselves to carry such investigations).
- In Garmyan province, PUK and DPK have tightened the security in fears of riot, especially in Kalar city.
- Nechirvan Barzani too blamed the PUK and Silemany security for not guarding their base yesterday.
- A group by the name of (Chatri Azadi) meaning (Freedom Umbrella) took control over KRG office in London for more that 45 minutes, you can read a detailed article about this here.
- According to Awene newspaper, the head of healthcare refused to give accurate statistics and names of the victims of yesterday “Because of security reasons.” Although Awene gives the numbers; 57 wounded, 30 of them by bullets, out of those 30, 24 of them were hit in their legs or hands and 6 in their abdomens, two of them at are at an extremely dangerous and life threatening positions. The 30 people wounded by bullets have undergone surgery, the health of 70% of these is unstable.
- Dr. Kamal Said Qadir, A Kurdish activist living in Austria, has pressed charges against Massud Barzani in a European court under charges of shooting at innocent people.
- Another Gorran department was burned in (Bna Slawa), making it fourth after Hawler, Duhok and Soran. Based on Awene website, six Gorran HQs in Hawler and Duhok governorates are being held by DPK security. Gorran members are still not allowed to return to these buildings.
- Over 50 organizations and leading figures have made a statement asking for reconciliation and dialogue amongst all sides. The statement can be found in Kurdish here.
- Movement of both cars and pedestrians were forbidden in front of (Branch 4), with an extremely heavy military presence in front of it. Especially from the evening, the whole city streets are filled with military tanks and vehicles, which has worried the locals.
- This dusk, small scale protests resumed, but in a very recent Hawlati news, local security has dispersed the protesters even journalists by using fire fighter’s water pumps and have even arrested a score of the protesters in Mawlawi street.
- Some photos from yesterday can be found here.
- In a press conference in Hawler, Nechirvan Barzani stated that they do not point any fingers in yesterday’s incident and that they had warned Silemani security forces several days earlier about such attack but “Silemani security forces didn’t have any reaction during the incident.”
-Meanwhile, Fadhil Mirani, a top official in KDP stated “We do not assault anyone but do not accept assaults from anyone as well, that is why whoever attack our bases (HQs) we will cut their hands.”
- Lvin states that one full bus of arrested protesters has been taken to (Ma’askar Salam prison), but the head of the prison has not taken those arrested simply because the arresters didn’t have any statement from the court. But the prison chief is under a lot of pressure to take the arrested people.
- Some intellectuals from Australia have strongly condemned the “Silemani massacre” and have stated that the president again proved that he is the head of militia party and whenever he wants, he orders to commit such massacres. Full report here.
- A group of graduated students from college and institutions have said that if the government do not listen to them, they will set themselves on fire.