Van Bommel visits Iraqi Kurdistan

9 March 2013

Van Bommel visits Iraqi Kurdistan

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel will in the next few days visit the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the north of Iraq in the company of SP regional councillor Younis Lutfula. ‘In contrast to large parts of Iraq, where ten years on from the illegal US-British invasion it still isn’t peaceful, in Iraqi Kurdistan things are going well,’ says Van Bommel. ‘It’s important that the Netherlands encourage this development and seek closer relations with the region.’

harry van bommelVan Bommel will first go to Duhok in order to visit the neighbouring refugee camp at Domiz. In this camp tens of thousands of refugees from over the border in Syria have found shelter following their flight from the violence of civil war in their homeland. ‘The horrors in Syria have been going on for two years,’ says Van Bommel. ‘As ever it’s principally the civilian population which is the victim. In the refugee camp I want to hear what the inhabitants have to say about how things are for them and whether the international community could be doing more for them.’

The second destination will be Suleymania. In 2011 this town was the stage for angry protests against the established political order. Demonstrations were harshly repressed by the police, and people were killed. The opposition party Goran, whose name translates as ‘change’ was an important force behind the demonstrations. ‘The democratisation which is visible in the Kurdish Autonomous Region is impressive, but the events of 2011 make it clear that there’s still a great deal to be done,’ explains Van Bommel. ‘So in Suleymania we’ll be speaking with members of Goran to find out what things are like for those in the opposition in Iraqi Kurdistan.’

The trip will end in the region’s capital, Erbil, where on 14th March an international conference will be held on the subject of the late-1980s genocide against the Kurds. ‘They’re still finding mass graves in Iraq, making it clear just how extensive the genocide was,’ says Van Bommel. ‘It’s important that attention is paid to this, so during the conference, together with parliamentarians from other parts of the world I will be urging international recognition as genocide of the mass-murder of Kurds by Saddam Hussein.’

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