ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – During a rally in Dohuk, the President of the Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani reaffirmed the upcoming independence referendum would be held according to schedule on Sep. 25.
Kurds across the Kurdistan Region and abroad gathered in a show of solidarity for the historic independence vote.
In Dohuk Province, where President Barzani was present, chants of “Long live Kurdistan” rang around the province’s national football stadium.
Addressing the crowd, the President jokingly said there was no need for a referendum as the large gathering of support in the Region and across the world in recent days spoke for itself.
“The people of Kurdistan will make their voices officially heard when they go to the ballot boxes and vote on Sep. 25,” he said, adding the Kurdistan Parliament had confirmed the referendum date.
Despite objections from neighbors Turkey and Iran, as well as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Iraq, the Kurdistan Region leadership insisted on proceeding with the vote.
The US and UK governments released statements openly rejecting the Kurds’ independence ambitions.
However, President Barzani said that “the will of the Kurds would not be broken,” and emphasized they “would gain independence.”
On Thursday, during a press conference in Erbil, the US Special Presidential Envoy to Counter the Islamic State (IS) Brett McGurk claimed the independence referendum was illegitimate.
“We ask the international community to honor the sacrifices of the Peshmerga and support the Kurdistan referendum,” President Barzani said to comments made by the US official and others who opposed the vote.
“The legitimacy of the Kurdistan Referendum comes from the sacrifices and blood of the Peshmerga, not foreign diplomats,” he emphasized.
“The sacrifices and victories of the Peshmerga against IS with limited weapons cannot be compared with any other fight in history,” President Barzani noted.
On Kurdistan’s relationship with regional and international nations post-independence, President Barzani said the Region wants “to maintain positive, peaceful, and democratic dialogue.”
“In the past 25 years, the Kurds have proven to the world we are a factor of peace and stability in the region,” the President added.
He also said the Kurdish forces would continue to “strengthen [their] strong coordination” with Iraqi troops in the fight against IS.
“The time has come to say no to genocide and injustice,” the President continued. “We want the next generation of Kurds to live freely.”
President Barzani concluded by congratulating the Kurds in the Region and the diaspora for congregating and showing support for the independence referendum.
Kurds gathered in Erbil—waving flags, dancing, and singing—in a show of support for the historic event.
Meanwhile, diaspora Kurds in Sweden, Germany, and Belgium also demonstrated in solidarity for the Kurdistan referendum.