The other Iraq is fast reverting to past Iraq - By Shwan Zulal

Attempt of protest continues in Slemani (Sulaimaniyah), Erbil, Kalar, Halbja, Chamchamal, Bazyan, darbandixan and other places in Kurdistan. However, the thuggish response by the authorities which has been undertaken by the main two militia group of PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) and KDP (Kurdistan Democratic parties) have subdued the protest for the time being.

The Kurdish Region officials were boasting about how Kurdistan is different from the rest of Iraq and democracy was rooted in the region, they even called it the other Iraq. The image is shattered by the recent events, as the militia has taken over the governemnt, and all the facade of democratic state has been removed. The main two leaders, Jalal Talabani(Iraqi President and PUK leader) and Masu'd Barzani(Kurdistan Region President and KDP leader) have resorted to few people like the current PM, Barham Salih to soften their looks and convince the world that they are a democratic state. But once they were faced with public anger like the rest of middle-East, the smokescreen has been lifted and their true colours are on the show.

An eyewitness account from Slemani yesterday:"A number of shopkeepers saw a boy of around 14 years of age being beaten by three armed men dressed in uniform. The shopkeepers watched on while the boy was defiant as he was beaten north Msgawti Gawra (the Large mosque in Slemani) and was chanting down with the regime, down, down ... The attack by the security forces became more ferocious and the boy started bleeding. Then the boy realized he could no longer take the beatings, he started crying begging them to stop. The shop keepers went into the boys aid by this time he was about to lose consciousness. The men managed to persuade the militiamen to let him go, and brought the boy back to one of the a shop. They gave him some water and let him rest away from the hands of the thugs. Half an hour later, although the boy has regained some composure but could clearly notice his anguish in his eyes. He said that he wants to go home to his mum and change his close as his shirt was torn and blood stained. He even forgot to thank the men who saved him and went on his way, but soon another group of around five armed security forces picked on him as they saw his blood stained shirt concluding he was protester. The boy this time was begging not to be beaten, but the heartless thugs twice his age set on him and started to beat him violently. This all happened very quickly and this time more shopkeepers and businessmen went to his aid. They managed to stop the beatings and eventually send the boy safely home. One of the businessmen who told the story was once a staunch PUK supporter and said:" Since I was a young man until today I have supported this party, but this is the beyond acceptable and they degust me"."

The despotic nature of Kurdish authorities is becoming more apparent to everyone now. While, Kurds and others in the west had very high expectations for Kurdistan Region. Running the country on the same model of the past and disguising it as a democratic state has disappointed most Kurds and made them angry.

The US has been silent on all the human Right violations in Kurdistan despite two reports by Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and hundreds of video and photos of all the crimes committed by the authorities against peaceful protesters. This silence by the world cannot go on because as one commentator puts it, the US is alienating the only people in Middle-East who is friendly towards them. Unconditional US support for these two dynasties in Kurdistan may change that into yet another unfriendly nation in the region, due to the current US foreign policy.

Protests are banned in All Kurdistan region now, and most of the towns and cities across the region has become a militarised areas. A vast number of forces have been poured into Slemani and Kalar, while the capital, Erbil has been under siege for nearly two month. There are reports of more forces from Kirkuk and other areas going to Halabja today. Lvinpress have been reporting that the PUK command in the city of Halabja refused to take orders of being heavy handed against the protesters therefore Talabni has sent in Arab forces from Kirkuk areas.

Many pictures and videos of the torture and beatings are circulating around and the Authorities are targeting protest leaders and opposition figures, by burning their cars, threatening and arresting them.

Taking videos and still images are banned in public areas and anyone who does not work for the incumbent media machine will not be allowed to do so. In the last three days, many journalists and photographers have been arrested and beaten for covering the events. Hawlati reported yet more journalist's arrests in Bazyan today.

I lived through most of the Baath regime era and what is happening in Kurdistan is, resonate in my head and reminds me of those desperate times. I never thought I would see a day where "once people fighting against tyrannical practices by Saddam" resorted to similar practises against fellow Kurdish citizens.

I can only say those who are responsible for killing and torturing Kurdish citizens will face justice one day. But the silent majority who are watching and not taking a stance against this act of betrayal to the Kurdish nation, are collaborators and as guilty as the once who Shot dead 12 year old Garmyan.

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April 21, 2011
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