KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Turkmen People’s Party in Kirkuk urged Turkmen to participate in the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum scheduled for Sep. 25, 2017.
The head of the Turkmen People’s Party Erfan Kirkuki stated they had received a guarantee from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) about Turkmen rights within the future independent state of Kurdistan.
“The Kurds and Turkmen have the same destiny in one land which is called the holy land of Kurdistan, and Kirkuk is part of this holy land,” Kirkuki told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
“Turkmen and Kurds don’t have differences,” he continued. “They have similar social and economic ties living in social harmony in the same land.”
“There has been co-existence between both ethnic groups throughout history. History has tied them together in the same geography,” Kirkuki added.
Turkmen parties in Kirkuk have been divided into two fronts, one willing to be part of a future independent Kurdistan while the other remains undecided.
“For the Kurds, referendum means determining their future,” Jalal, an elderly Turkmen resident from Kirkuk, told Kurdistan 24.
“We as Turkmen want our future to be with the Kurds in establishing an independent Kurdistan. It is our dream to be part of this state,” he emphasized.
Kirkuk is a diverse province consisting of Turkmen, Arabs, and Christians with a Kurdish majority.
The oil-rich province has been under the administration of the KRG since 2014 and is included in the Kurdistan Region’s referendum later this year.
“The participation of Turkmen in this referendum will be a good move. We have been asking to be part of an independent Kurdistan for a long time,” said Salim, another Turkmen resident.
“There are different ethnic and religious groups in Kirkuk,” he noted. “We hope the province becomes part of Kurdistan with this unique trait.”
Turkmens are also divided among themselves between Sunni and Shia Muslim.
The Sunni portion of Turkmen is close to Turkey while the Shia population tends to be more loyal to Baghdad.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Soran Kamaran)