ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The former President of the Kurdistan Region on Wednesday weighed in on the crisis hitting the southern Iraqi province of Basra, stating it is shocking that the people of the country’s richest city suffer from a lack of clean water.
At least five protesters died on Tuesday, and 30 more were injured as crowds in Basra took to the streets. The protests initially began in early July and spread to several southern and central provinces, including the capital. Reports of mass poisonings due to the poor quality of drinking water in Basra reignited demonstrations.
Masoud Barzani, the current head of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the Basra protests and wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
“We consider protesting and these protests to be the right of the people, and at the same time, consider that the people of Basra have the right to live in reasonable conditions, which they deserve,” Barzani argued in a statement released by his press office.
“What makes us wonder is that the children of the richest city in the world are suffering from problems that can not be justified, such as the lack of drinking water, the spread of disease, the disease, and negligence,” the statement continued.
Barzani praised the kindness, love, and enthusiasm the people of Basra expressed in support of his father, the late modern Kurdish nationalist leader, Mula Mustafa Barzani, who fought against injustice for decades before moving to the Soviet Union.
“We express our sympathy and solidarity with the citizens of Basra. We hope their rights will be respected and their demands met - the most basic rights that any human being should have.”
Barzani also called on the people of Basra to be far from violence while protesting peacefully.
He stressed that the people of the Kurdistan Region would do what they can to deliver help to the people of Basra.
Oil production in Basra accounts for 95 percent of Iraq’s oil output. The country is the second-largest oil producer in OPEC.
Protesters demand better public services, including clean water, electricity supply, and better employment rate. So far, over 20 people have died while protesting, and hundreds more were injured, according to local human rights groups.
Iraq remains high on Transparency International’s list of national levels of corruption as widespread fraud and mismanagement in state institutions are some of the most significant challenges facing the country since the fall of the former regime.
According to the group’s 2017 Corruption Index, Iraq ranks 166, the tenth most corrupt country out of a total of 176.
Editing by Nadia Riva