ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan’s call for a referendum was a legitimate and natural request by the Kurdish people, Speaker of Kurdistan Parliament Rewaz Faiaq said on Wednesday on the second anniversary of the historic Kurdistan independence referendum.
At the start of the parliament session, Faiaq emphasized that the right to decide one’s future is a fundamental right recognized by the international charters.
“However, the international community, including some of the Kurdistan Region’s allies, turned their back on us,” she said to lawmakers.
“The fearless people of Kurdistan have been fighting for that right non-stop for decades, and many youths have sacrificed their lives for that purpose,” Faiq added.
The parliament speaker reminded that self-determination “is a legitimate and natural right and does not oppose any international law,” noting that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) continues to seek its constitutional rights from the Iraqi government.
During the same session, Omed Khoshnaw, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), submitted a request to the speaker to have Sept. 25 recognized as a national day for the people of Kurdistan.
“For two years, Kurdistan, with all of its political and public components, celebrates the day on a national level, and the parliament made the decision to hold the referendum,” Khoshnaw said, underlining the importance of recognizing the historic day.
To mark the second anniversary, lawmakers in the Kurdistan Parliament rose to their feet and began to sing the Kurdish national anthem.
On June 7, 2017, in a meeting chaired by then-Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani, political parties in the autonomous Kurdish region decided to hold a referendum on Sept. 25 of that year.
The vote also included the disputed territories between the KRG and the Iraqi government, which were under the control of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces after they drove the so-called Islamic State from the areas.
Despite pressure by regional states, Baghdad, the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations to postpone the vote as the date neared, Barzani decided to proceed.
At the time, the Kurdish leader argued they had received no alternative offer to express the people of Kurdistan’s voices and no guarantees that Baghdad would address grievances. Thus, the referendum went ahead as planned.
The “Yes” vote won by a landslide, with 92.73 percent favoring secession from Iraq.
According to the referendum’s commission, 4,581,255 people were eligible to vote. “Out of this number, 3,305,925 people cast their vote, amounting to 72.16 percent,” the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (IHERC) stated at the time.
An independent state of Kurdistan has been the long-awaited aspiration of over 40 million stateless Kurds around the world.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany