Media should strengthen social security and coexistence
Kurdish Globe interview with Mahmoud Mohammed
Kurdistan is recently witnessing a new political situation. Kurdish President Massoud Barzani identified September 21, 2013 as the day for the parliamentary and presidential elections, and the Kurdistan Regional Government will decide on the date during this week. Moreover Barzani stated last month that since constitution draft has passed the legal processes, it cannot be returned to the parliament, but rather should be put under referendum, and no one should prevent people from this right.
Commenting on these issued and developments, Mahmoud Mohammed, member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Politbureau and Head of the party’s Culture and Media Institution, told the Kurdish Globe that some political groups have created this situation and they want to use this situation to hamper the candidacy of President Barzani for the presidency position.
“First of all we need to talk about the background of the constitution and referendum issue and how it started,” Mohammed told the Globe. “The constitution was drafted as an assurance basis for the people of Kurdistan and foreigners who want to deal with Kurdistan Region politically, economically and commercially. All political groups in the region were in agreement for drafting the constitution.”
Mohammed said the draft was voted for by 36 parties in Koya Town, and after discussions and talks a specialized committee was assigned to do the legal part of the process. They used constitutions of 40 countries especially those who are in similar political and geographical situations as Kurdistan Region. Many experts, including foreigners participated in drafting the constitution. Later on, the project was submitted to parliament and the public via printing 900 thousand copies and door were opened for comments and feedback. Some 5000 comments were received on the draft and the parliament used these comments to review the draft.
As for the current discussions about the draft, Mohammed believes that some political parties want to change the direction of the issue towards an unknown destination.
“The draft was voted for by 96 MPs out of 97 attendants of the voting session and the approved draft was sent to the Presidency Office for final approval. It is correct that the constitution may not be perfect and have some shortcomings, but this should be addressed after referendum through legal processes not based on the moods of some people or for political interest.”
Despite the fact that Presi- dent Barzani has not yet announced whether he wants to run for presidency again or not, opposition groups have started a campaign against him in the media.
Mohamed says “those who do these are only performing their opposition duties.”
He also added that constitution is a legal and administrative framework for the governance of the country.
“Opposing the constitution is a huge historical mistake that the opposition is now committing by using this issue as a political campaign for the elections. It is not fair to use any means for winning votes.”
The democracy and freedom of speech in Kurdistan is sometimes being misused by some media organizations who want to mislead the public instead of leading them in national issues.
“The duty of the media is not only passing political and party messages to people but it should rather be giving a chance to people to participate in the development of the Kurdish society,” Mohammed told the Globe. “Media can lead the events in the direction of the common interest of the people while it can also do the opposite by directing it according to individual interests. The role of the media is now clear but here we only see it from a political and short term conflicts perspective.”
The KDP official also added that this has harmed the people since bringing about a suitable mental, economic and cultural state, allows people to enjoy their civil and legal rights with awareness. It also creates trust, understanding and social security. Instead of allowing people to get information, some media channels try to keep people in the darkness and play with their minds, something that will have negative impact on the development of the Kurdish society.
Addressing the current issues between Erbil and Baghdad, Mohammed said “we need to be realistic, and political solution through talks and dialogue is the best solution. The Prime Minister of Iraq has an important position while Iraq is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic country. Everything is written in Baghdad and decided upon. So it is important to use this diversity as a foundation for strengthening the country rather than weakening it and creating problems and denying rights and special status of different components of the Iraqi society.
“People have the right to live a better life than what they had under the previous regime. If we have the same Arab-dominant thinking like the past, it means that we have not done anything. All this sacrifice has been made for the sake of a free and democratic country, whether sacrifice by Iraqis, Americans or others. In the past all powers were used for internal and external wars. This needs to change. New Iraq should adapt to the current developments. Hence sharing, agreement and acceptance are very important to solve the issues rather than using the majority and minority basis since Iraq has three major components and has numerous religious, sectarian and ethnic groups.
Regarding the potential visit of Prime Minister Nuri Maliki to Kurdistan, Mohammed says there is a possibility that he will visit the region, and this is a very important step towards a real solution for the long pending issues between Erbil and Bagdad. “We hope this will be a good step forward and talks will have results. We know that President Barzani did an initiative, Kurdish delegation headed by Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited Maliki in Bagdad and signed an agreement with Maliki about solutions to the pending issues between the region and Baghdad. These are all important steps towards positive results.”
Addressing the issue that some think that President Barzani was the reason behind the tensions between Erbil and Baghdad, Mohammed said Barzani warned people about the situations and the possibilities in Baghdad. His aim was to raise people’s awareness so that this important issue is not overlooked. This was a positive step since now everyone understands this reality.
The friendship between Kurds and Shiites is from long ago and it dates back to the harsh times. Criticism is towards governance not towards religions or sects. Our complaints were addressed to the Prime Minister about his governance of Iraq. We should not forget that Maliki won this position with the votes of the Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. Those who accuse President Barzani in this regard are aiming at distorting the realities.
The strategic agreement between KDP and PUK is a national need and now as the two parties participate in elections separately, opposition takes it as a sign of deviation from each other.
“The strategic agreement was a requirement of that phase. The Kurdish people and the political process were the first beneficiaries of this agreement. It paved the way for political openness and transferring au- thority. And the agreement achieved most of its main goals and we believe that changing the agreement and adapting it to current situations is required. What is now being done about elections does not mean the cancelation of the agreement but rather a review for some articles of the agreement.”
The KDP Politbureau member addressed the issue of the media war in the region and the criticism about the KDP media that does not respond to all the media wars and accusations against the party. He said “in reality the policy of the KDP is designed in a way that takes into account all principles of media and always tries to deal professionally with the events. It does not like exaggeration. Moreover KDP has a political, social, economic, legal and cultural responsibility in Kurdistan. That is why it always takes people and their peace of mind and rights into account and directs media in a way that strengthen the social security of people and instead of keeping people busy with insignificant conflicts and media wars, it thinks of the human, national and democratic responsibilities as well as peaceful co-existence, welfare and security of the people. At this stage this is the duty of a responsible media. Otherwise, we can have our word for any issue. But we should not forget that this would waste our constructive humane responsibilities of our media.
Mahmoud Mohammed, member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party Politbureau and Head of the party’s Culture and Media Institution