‘We chose to climb the mountain’, KDP President says on fifth referendum commemoration
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) President Masoud Barzani said on Sunday that the Kurdish people chose to “climb the mountain” when they decided to hold the referendum, preferring the hard choice of being independent rather than accepting the status quo.
Barzani said the remarks during his attendance at the Duhok Cultural Festival, where he commemorated the fifth anniversary of the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum. It was held on September 25, 2017.
He extended his appreciation to those “who never bowed down”.
Earlier Sunday, Barzani shared a couplet of the legendary Tunisian poet Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, titled The Will to Life:
If, one day, the people wills to live
Then fate must obey
Darkness must dissipate
And must the chain give way
He who doesn’t like to climb mountains
Will forever live among the hollows
“And we chose to climb the mountain,” Barzani said in his speech after he had recited the poem in front of the Kurdish and Arab intellectuals, coming from various Middle Eastern countries, including the Kurdistan parts of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
Barzani championed the Kurdish referendum for independence in 2017. An overwhelming majority of the Kurdish population as well as Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, and other ethnic and religious components voted in favor of independence.
“On this day the will of the people triumphed,” Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said, commemorating the fifth anniversary of the referendum on Sunday.
The polls came as the three-year-long fight against ISIS was waning.
The Peshmerga forces, under the leadership of former President of Kurdistan Region Masoud Barzani and international support from Coalition forces, were able to defeat the terror group and recaptured much of the territories lost to the extremists when Iraqi soldiers withdrew in 2014.
The Kurdish leadership has publicly declared that the referendum was not intended to lead to an immediate succession from Iraq, rather, it was a democratic means to express the nation’s will.
The assurances did not stop the Iraqi authorities from launching a widespread military offensive on the areas contested by both governments in mid-October 2017, as a result of which a significant number of Kurdish people were displaced in those areas. Some of the civilian properties belonging to Kurdish people were set ablaze by the forces, including Iranian-backed Iraqi militias.