Kurdistan Issues in Press Interviews: Ali Bapir

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Sign the petition for Iraq's three-region solution May 13, 2008 Kurdistan Issues in Press Interviews: Ali Bapir 

Kurdishaspect.com - Translated by Dr. Kamal Mirawdeli

Interview with Emir of Islamic Group Ali Bapir translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli from: Awene, Sulaymaniyah, independent weekly newspaper in Kurdish, 22 Apr 08, pp 1,3,19.

Ali Bapir: Masrur Barzani and Bavel Talabani supervise security agencies that arrest and detain people  

Emir of Islamic Group Mamosta [honorific] Ali Bapir says that in Arbil  Masrur Barzani, the son of [Kurdistan Region President] Masu’d Barzani and in Sulaymaniyah Bavel Talabani, the son of [Iraqi President] Jalal Talabani, are supervising those agencies that are responsible for arresting and detaining people. He adds: “This is a reality that no one denies. To say this is not to show disrespect towards them.”

In the last few days following an interview with the Emir of the Islamic Group Mamosta [honorific] Ali Bapir by the Halbun magazine, a problem emerged between the Islamic Group and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Both sides issued statements. Ali Bapir tells Awene: “I do not see this matter big enough to call it a problem. As far as we are concerned we do not predict any bad outcomes of this. The reason for this [dispute] is partly the changes that Helbun magazine had made in my words.” 

Bapir says;” In our country, like all other parts of the world, security forces must belong to government. People should not be detained without court’s decisions and when they are arrested, they must be investigated quickly, not be kept in prison for three or four years.” He adds;” I did not mean to criticize certain people, I meant to criticise the very process of people’s detention and keeping them in prisons without trying them by court.”

In the last few days following an interview with the Emir of the Islamic Group Mamosta [honorific] Ali Bapir by the Halbun magazine, a problem emerged between the Islamic Group and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Both sides issued statements and published many articles and counter articles in the newspapers. In order to further clarify this issue and expectations about its development, we have conducted this interview with the Emir of the Islamic Group Ali Bapir.

[Awene]  For some time now, rightly or wrongly, you have been criticising the government. Aren’t you part of the government? Can you tell us whether you are an opposition party or a partner in government?

[Ali Bapir]  In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Thank God, we have tried and continue to try not to level any criticism which is not just. At the same time we do not consider ourselves as people who cannot make mistakes. And we do not consider other people as blameless either.  The Prophet Muhammad has said: “All mankind do make mistakes, the best of them are those who regret them”. On the other hand, we do not see our participation in government, which is, as you are aware, small and symbolic, as a hindrance to exercising our right to express our opinions and observations about government and others outside government.  But of course we do this from our concern and care about constructiveness and finding solutions, and not as some people unjustly express bad suspicions about us. On the other hand, even if we do not participate in the government, we do not make this non-participation an excuse for non-co-operation for the sake of general interests of our people and country of which we are a part.

[Awene]  Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) and patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) openly say that they do not accept that you criticise the government while you are part of it. But you do not stop criticising them. Then why don’t you choose to leave the government and become an opposition party?

[Ali Bapir]  I do not believe that the statement “those who are in the government must not criticise it” is the view of all leadership of KDP and PUK. I believe this is the view of certain people. In support of this I refer to an article by [Kurdistan Region President] Mas’ud Barzani published in [KDP newspaper] Khabat. He openly says: “Criticism is necessary for finding solutions to failures and shortcomings.” He said the same thing in a meeting of the High Committee of Kurdistan Political Parties. There he said; “If we do not criticise ourselves , people outside Kurdistan Region will do.”  Also in our latest meeting with the Kurdistan Region PM [Nechirvan Barzani] and his deputy Omar Fatah, while discussing our proposals, both of them considered constructive criticism as something normal whoever makes it.

Until this moment, we have considered our participation in government a positive thing and this has been the views of KDP and PUK as well. Whenever our conviction changed and we thought that it would be in the interests of our people and our party to become an opposition group, then we would not hesitate for a moment because our greatest aim and the basic principle of our work and political struggle is to serve the interests of people and meet their needs, to bring them benefits and remove threats and harms. 

[Awene]  What is your problem with KDP? Where has it come from? What are your predictions about its outcomes?

[Ali Bapir]  I do not see this is such  a big issue to call it ‘a problem2’. I see the occurrence of such disputes between two political groups as normal.  As far as we are concerned we do not expect any bad outcomes from this.

The reason [for this disputes] is partly the changes that [the editors of] Helbun magazine have made in some of my words and have made them the headline of the cover of the magazine. As KDP statement has also indicated some of this was the result of misunderstanding and bad suspicions. As it might have suggested, what I said did not mean to show disrespect to Masrur [Barzani] and Bavel [Talabani]. As a Muslim my religion does not allow me to show disrespect to any human being; Allah says; “ And we have dignified the sons of Adam- Al-Isra’ 70”. How can I show disrespect to some people who have responsibility within KDP and PUK, two parties that have a history of struggle. 

[Awene]  In your interview [with Helbun] you say that Talabani and Barzani’s sons imprison people? What do you mean?

[Ali Bapir]  With my respect, it seems that you are repeating the same distorted words of Helbun magazine. Look! These are words as they are printed in the magazine itself:

“I do not believe that there is a [ national] security [body] in any part of the world that does not belong to the government .  [ Kurdistan Region PM] Nechirvan Barzani says:” Neither the security [forces] here [in KDP-controlled Arbil] nor there [in the PUK-controlled Sulaymaniyah] are government’s security forces.”. Here [in Arbil] Masu’d Barzani’s son Masrur, and there [in Sulaymaniyah] Jalal Talabani’s son Bavel,  are supervising the forces and agencies that arrest and imprison people. (Halbun, No 7, p:14) “

Then, as it is clear, I said these words in the course of talking about the issue of security and government. My words are that like any other country in the world , the government should be responsible for security. I have said this. I have not said that these two gentlemen themselves go and arrest people. I said: “they supervise the agencies and forces that detain people.”  And this is a reality that no one denies . Of course our mutual respect does not mean that we do not exercise our rights to express our opinions and observations about each other’s performance and conduct. It is clear that I said that people should not be arrested the order of courts and when detained they should be investigated and charges as soon as possible and not, as it is now, be kept in prison for three or four years without trial and without proving they are guilty. I did not mean to criticise certain individuals. I meant to criticise the process of arresting people and keeping them in prisons without court decisions and this is of course an unlawful and ant-Sharia action. Therefore I think they should have interpreted and respected my words as coming from concern for government and people and as respect for the rule of law; this ‘rule of law’ which has become their catchphrase.!

[Awene]  Everyone in Kurdistan know that the system is full of corruption and crises. But you always criticise the officials of KDP and PUK. Do you think that with the change of the officials, the problems would be solved? 

[Ali Bapir]  I do not agree with what you have said that we always criticise officials. Anyone who has been reading our interviews would be assured that we criticise policies, approaches, positions and conducts in general irrespective of the individuals behind them. But , dear brother, there is no doubt that as much as programmes, policies and right approaches are important , it is equally important to have right and competent people to guide, implement and embody these policies and approaches. If this is not the case, then tell me what is the value of a good plan and policy that is violated and trampled upon by the same people who offer and publicise them and remain empty words on paper?

For your information, from this issue of the weekly newspaper Midya, I will publish a series of articles entitled “ The reality of Kurdistan Region: Problems and Solutions”. In which I to a great extent express my views about the current problems of Kurdistan Region and the way to solve them. 

[Awene]  About the flood of articles published against you these days, what do you say?

[Ali Bapir]  In fact I do not have time to read most of the articles published against me. But I hear from our members that most of them have the style of smear and slander and attempt of defamation. They are the words of people who swim in murky water and intend to create conflict and chaos. Thank God, I am not that kind of person who is a customer in the bazaar of slander. My dictionary lacks such words and I am not a good candidate for such a battlefield which, sadly, in our times is populated by many skilful knights!

On the other hand, most of these swears and accusations have been answered in the past and the life and track record of myself and the Islamic Group refutes their accusations. I do not believe that apart from spiteful people, anyone would pay attention to such words. Therefore, as a kind advice, I say to those newspapers and websites that are busy in trading in such bazaars : It would be better for this world and the other world of yours if you stopped squandering your own energy and time and that of some readers. Believe me the most failed people are those who try to build themselves by destroying others! Be assure that an edifice created with good work and has its bases in the ground of reality cannot be destroyed by hatred and malice. And by publishing such smears and accusations, these newspapers , magazines and websites only lose their own credibility, if they have any!

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