Order is restored in Kirkuk
Iraqi-Kurdish authorities, with the cooperation of Coalition forces, have restored civil order in the city of Kirkuk. Today, markets and shops opened again, and city streets were bustling with citizens reveling in a life of greater normalcy with the fall of the Iraqi regime. In the past day, not a single report of looting or major civil disorder has been reported in the city.
Significantly, critical public services, such as water and electricity have been restored. The telephone system is also up and running again.
Civil servants and equipment from the Suleimani municipality, in Iraqi Kurdistan, were loaned to the city of Kirkuk in order to repair structural damage and clean streets. Police and traffic officers from Suleimani also arrived in Kirkuk to restore order to city life. The officers are coordinating their efforts with the US-led Coalition. The residents of Kirkuk warmly welcomed the presence of both.
There still remain small numbers of Baath party loyalists and other movements that seek to create instability in Kirkuk, but the local authorities will work with the US–led coalition to diminish the threat posed by these anti-democratic elements.
Turkish government observers recently arrived in Kirkuk and were witness to the positive changes in the city. In a report to the Turkish Prime Minister, observers stated that major clashes between Iraqi Kurds and Turkomans have been absent.
In addition, a twenty-four-person committee, representing Kirkuk’s ethnically diverse population, has been formed in order to ensure that the city remains safe and livable. The committee will work closely with the US-led Coalition so that Kirkuk’s municipal administration functions properly and effectively.
This move comes amid Kirkuk, being the symbol of Baath oppression against our people and being a city that has endured atrocities such as the genocidal ethnic cleansing campaigns. Successive Iraqi regimes attempts to change the demographics of Kirkuk, forcibly evicting hundreds and thousands of Kurds, as well as Turkomans and Assyrians and replacing them with Arab settlers have failed to drive a wedge between the different ethnicities of Kirkuk.
In another important step to restore order and civil services in Kirkuk, an ethnically diverse group of 250 health professionals gathered on April 14th to hold the democratic elections in Kirkuk – the fist of their kind in the city’s history. Directors and Deputy Directors of Kirkuk’s three hospitals (the Azadi Hospital, Kirkuk Hospital and Kirkuk Children’s Hospital) were elected. Election participants expressed satisfaction with the electoral process, as well as with the outcome. The Minister of Health of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Dr. Mohammad Khoshnaw, an observer at the elections, welcomed the democratic process and stated that the KRG would begin working with the elected senior health professionals immediately so that Kirkuk’s health system, neglected by the Iraqi regime for decades, can begin functioning effectively.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan will continue working with civilian and military Coalition personnel to advance the democratization process in Iraq and ensure full participation of Iraqi citizens in the political and social development of the country.
April 15, 2003