You Should Not Abuse Democracy in Kurdistan

Erbil's gated 'Dream City'

Gated ‘Dream City’ for the wealthy, Erbil, South Kurdistan

By Abdul-Qahar Mustafa:

In democracy, every individual has a single vote but in a country where decision-making is controlled by a group of rich men who came together in the form of a political party, people have very little say in the actions and decisions of government.

The rich privileged families, who receive special education in special universities, usually enter three branches of the government. Their financial and social capital gives them heavy influence in elections, economic and political decision-making, allowing them to move toward attaining desired outcomes regardless of the will of people.

Many Kurdish people including me believe that only small, powerful groups of people exclusively control wealth and political power in Kurdistan and are superior to the rest of the people in terms of power, decision-making, social status, and qualities of life.

These powerful, rich groups and families, which we call political parties, do not take the rest of the people from lower classes as importantly as themselves, no matter how intelligent, hard working and devoted to Kurdistan they are. The elite are in meetings and on missions every off and on. They show up on TV almost every single day. They speak carefully and cleverly with the aim to make themselves come off as all patriotic, honest and trustworthy. They never talk about their bank account balances and how much money and properties they have. They often hide their real agenda and intentions for the future of Kurdistan from the public. They never talk about the secret meetings they hold behind closed doors, nor do they tell people the whole truth of what they have really talked about when they meet officials and diplomats from abroad.

They ignore the suggestions and solutions of the poor when offered as ways to solve a problem of the nation or they take credit for it themselves. They mostly accept proposals from rich people from the same class, same political parties, same business partners and give credit to them. It means they only accept one another, understand one another, sit together, marry one another, tend to work and to think together and make decisions regardless of what the rest of people think or say.

In addition to controlling the principal institutions in the country, their opinions and actions influence the decisions of the policymakers because they have big business and banks that give them upper hand to spend huge amounts of money on media, propaganda, TV channels, radio stations and to fund their election campaigns. You can see propaganda and advertisements of these rich political people hanging everywhere during the time of elections. They are on every billboard, on every TV program, radio station, internet platform, newspaper, magazine and so on.

Furthermore, children of these political rich men, have the best quality of life, possessing anything they can dream of, be it food, clothing, houses, cars, smart phones, computers, etc. They attend the most important schools and universities. They go to the highly exclusive places like hotels and restaurants where no poor people is allowed or cannot afford to get close to much less to enter these places.

They put the poor down, ridicule and mock them when he/she stands up against their illegitimate interests and big egos. As a matter of fact there have been cases where children of these rich men not only have mocked and ridiculed the poor, but also killed the poor. This usually happens when the poor have something good to say or when they have exposed the dirty secrets and crimes of these rich men.

Government men/women and their children also get paid massive salaries on time, and award themselves huge bonuses on top of this, while they claim they have no money to pay their workers. The bosses do not do the hard work; neither do they produce the most important goods and services. They control people and workplaces, and give orders. And whenever you bring up this debate and discussion of the gap between rich and poor, usually these rich people say that they have worked very hard for their money, and the poor should do the same so that they can become rich, as if they had worked days and nights in building up the pyramids of Egypt in order to collect all their money.

By contrast, the poor have been struggling to make end meet. How can one have enough money to cover all the important expenses of the life such as a house, proper food and clothing, when they have no job at all or have an odd job making a low income of 300 or 400 thousand dinars per month? How is it possible for such a person to have a family and children while living on such a low income? Clearly the opportunity of working or becoming rich is politicized and monopolized by only a group of people who are superior and hold the power and wealth in Kurdistan.

The flock of refugees and displaced people from Syria and other places in Iraq into provinces of Kurdistan has negatively affected the lives of local people and the economy in general. It has impacted on job markets, consumption of services, rents, traffic etc.

For example, I have a high school diploma from Canada. I have applied to more than 20 places including NGOs, private schools, hotels and shopping centers but no one have given me a job. While there have been people who are not in need of money and work as much as I am, nor can speak English as fluently as I do, or have as much social knowledge as I do, yet they are favored over me and are given jobs with no difficulty. And the reason is because these kinds of people have been members of a political party or have a powerful, influential person in the government who connects them to employers and make special referrals for them to get jobs.
I have evidence that special government referrals from places like the KDP office, branch one in Duhok, the governorate of Duhok, and the head office of NGO coordination, together with political affiliation and membership have gotten many unqualified people jobs not only in the private and public sectors, but also in humanitarian (NGO) organisations in the province of Duhok.

I feel that I have been facing work discrimination on top of human right abuse because I do not have special referrals who work for the government, and don’t belong to any political party in Kurdistan. Why is it that there are always jobs and full salaries available for some people but not for weak poor people from the lower class? What is happening to the KRG government income and what is it allocated for? As far as justice and ethics are concerns, the needs of human beings such as food, shelter, clothing, healthcare and work, comes before any other important projects to spend money on. How can unity and equality be possible among all people from Kurdistan when there is such class division and a huge gap between rich and poor?

All people of Kurdistan have suffered over the cause of Kurdistan. Every individual has paid a price for Kurdistan in one way or other. It is true that some have paid a bigger price than others or might have longer histories of serving people, or might have made more sacrifices and have given away more lives, but this should definitely not give them a special right to always be superior or deny the rest of the people rights, privileges and all the other blessings of Kurdistan.

If we are all brothers and want to be united in Kurdistan, then we should be treated equally; or do some have to fatten themselves with wealth, fame, name and power while others live on overdrafts and debts, waiting for months and months for their work salaries which may or may not come through?

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities should treat everybody equally regardless of social status, money and power. They should create job opportunities for people equally regardless of political parties and tribal bloodlines. They should also provide more social assistance programs for the poor and lower classes, including subsidised housing for poor people, unemployment benefits, unemployment support work programs, support for poor children and families and more support for disabled people in Kurdistan .

Political parties are not supposed to be platforms of corruption, monopolies or institutions for giving unconstitutional orders to MPs or to become secret gang clubs that are forged through the line of blood, kinship, tribal background, language, religion, business, etc. They are rather supposed to be institutions to produce skillful members with the right qualifications and democratic beliefs in order to manage and administer the affairs of the nation in the best possible way when they are elected to power. The alternative is that they are considered as greedy, selfish businessmen who care only for money, power, fame and name.

The goal and path of all political parties of Kurdistan should be to do their best to build up a Kurdistan that is democratic, run by the rule of law, safe, stable, developed, prosperous and free from oppression, discrimination, injustice, inequality, and poverty and most importantly free from all forms of human rights abuse.

Abdul-Qahar Mustafa is a graduate student from Saint Luis High school in Canada. He is an advocate of Justice, Democracy and Human rights. He currently lives in Sarsing/Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan.

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