Posted on November 20, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Corruption, Economy, Education, People
Thousands protest in Sulaimani against Kurdistan Regional Government over unpaid salaries and corruption in Iraqi Kurdistan, Nov 19, 2016. Photo: NRT
SULAIMANI, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Teachers and activists clashed with security forces in a city in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region Saturday during a protest over unpaid salaries.
The more than 5,000 people had gathered in front of the education ministry building in Sulaimani and marched to the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the dominant party in the south of the Kurdish region.
“Where are the employees’ salaries, you corrupt government,” the protesters chanted in the city, which is administered by the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.
“Where is the oil income going,” they also asked, accusing both the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Kurdish leader Massud Barzani of involvement in graft.
Barzani and Talabani families and their relatives control a large number of commercial enterprises in Iraqi, with a gross value of several billion US dollars. The two families are routinely accused of corruption and nepotism by Kurdish media as well as international observers.
“I don’t trust the government when it says the region is suffering from a financial crisis,” said Sara Rahim, a 40-year-old teacher who has not been paid in months.
Organisers told AFP that teachers would protest again on Sunday and remain on strike until their salaries were paid and their demands met.
Civil servants in Kurdistan have been on strike intermittently since 2015, when salaries stopped being paid on time as the region was hit hard by the cost of the war against the Islamic State group and plummeting oil prices.
Massoud Barzani, whose term as Kurdistan President ended on August 20, 2015 but refused to step down and remains unofficially in office, as been accused by critics of amassing huge wealth for his family instead of serving the population. Barzani’s son is the Kurdistan region’s intelligence chief and his nephew Nechirvan Barzani is the prime minister.
Opposition Kurdish parties accused the KDP of a monopoly all government’s positions in Erbil, and it does not believe in the principles of true partnership and and peaceful transfer of power.