Interview with deputy leader of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Kosrat Rasul

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September 24, 2007 Interview with deputy leader of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Kosrat Rasul

PUK deputy leader: we will punish party members if they speak out agaisnt PUK leadership  KRM - Translated by Dr Kamal Mirawdeli   

Translated from Awene, Sulaymaniyah, independent weekly newspaper, 18 Sep 07, p 3

The deputy president of Kurdistan region MR Kosrat Rsaul has talked to Awena about the recent strategic agreement between their party (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the recent decisions made by the PUK political bureau, the PUK organizations and the issue of trial of those Kurdish mercenaries and heads of jash [Pro-Saddam Kurdish] forces who have participated in Anfal operations.

[Awena] There is an old party principle that says ideology and politics must be clear and organization must be hidden. But you do not even follow this old principle. You have signed a strategic agreement [with KDP] for two months now but still no one knows what it is about and what it contains?

[Kosrat Rasul] The agreement is an agreement between two parties KDP and PUK. WE cannot reveal some points because they relate to the current political situation in Kurdistan, the future of Kurdistan, and our environment. We have talked about the general line of this agreement with our own cadres and in information media but we have not published the text of the agreement because the interests of our people and of the two parties, requires this.

[Awena] There is a rumour that a basic area of your strategic agreement is to limit the freedom of expression and the liberties that exist in Kurdistan and restrict the free media. To what extent is this true?

{Kosrat Rasul] In this country we have a law in relation to the media. Those websites that bring people and the parties into disrepute and are supporters of the two parties, we will close them down. Those people who write in these sites if their names become known to us we will make a complaint against them in Kurdistan and take legal action against them.

[Awena] Do you think that this strategic agreement will serve the development of democracy and freedom in Kurdistan, or will it have an adverse effect?

{Kosrat Rasul] Yes it will serve democracy and freedom because this agreement does not come at the expense of any one and second it is not against people. On the contrary I believe the situation of Kurdistan government would become better in legal terms. Changing positions from KDP to PUK and vice versa will stop and anyone who does something wrong we can try them in court.

[Awena] According to a previous agreement between you and KDP, from the beginning of the next year the heads of government and parliament must alternate. There is a rumour that PUK will accept [the current Prime Minister] Nechirvan Barzani to remain in his post and Omar Fatah [from PUK] will remain as his deputy?

{Kosrat Rasul] WE have an agreement to alternate the posts of head of government and parliament. This agreement will not change. But so far as PUK we have not had a meeting to identify a candidate. When the time comes we will meet and identify our candidate.

[Awena] Don’t you feel you are getting late? Any candidate needs some time to prepare his government programme and present it?

{Kosrat Rasul] There is still time. This change will happen in December.

[Awena] Which candidate has more chance within PUK to get this post?

{Kosrat Rasul] He will certainly be chosen from the members of political bureau. Who gets more votes, he will be chosen for this post.

[Awena] In the past week with the presence of [PUK Secretary General] Jalal Talabani you held some meetings and made some decisions. One of your decisions was that no PUK cadre is allowed to make statements to media channels. Doesn’t this mean the narrowing of party democracy? Does not this turn PUK into an introvert party?

{Kosrat Rasul] I don’t think so. This is a party discipline not to allow our cadres to speak outside their party framework. Some of these cadres go too far, Sometimes they bring PUK party itself and its leadership to disrepute. That is why we tell them: if you are party members you have your own channels [of communication and complaint]. There are party centres, there are party committees, tell your views to them, if you are committed members of the party.

[Awena] Don’t you feel that they talked so much within their party cells and committees and no one listened to them that they know it is a useless exercise and as they find no solution they are desperate to speak to other media channels?

[Kosrat Rasul] They are party cadres. When they talk they attack their comrades. They should not do that, they should for once start with [criticizing] themselves.

[Awena] Yesterday a message by PUK’s internal organisation bureau was conveyed to the organizations of PUK in which it is stated that any party member who speaks outside his party channels would be punished and deprived of all his party privileges? What do you say about this?

{Kosrat Rasul] I am not aware of anything like this.

[Awena] In the recent meeting of the political bureau you have taken a number of actions against your own cadres. There is a rumour that the people who have been subjected to these actions all belong to your own wing and the reformist wing of the party, and now the arena has been cleared for the [dominance of] the wing of the general secretary [Jalal Talabani]. What do you say about this?

{Kosrat Rasul] There are no wings within PUK. They are all one wing. In the past before the first conference of the party, PUK had three wings: Komala, Shorishgiran and the general line. From the first conference it has become one wing. Perhaps there are some personal relationships, but not wings.

[Awena] But in the [last year’s] PUK elections it was clear that you had your own candidates. And both Jalal Talabani and [his deputy then] Nawshirwan Mustafa had their won candidates?

{Kosrat Rasul] This was personal matter not wings.

[Awena] When will you convene your party conference? You don’t seem to be able to have your conference by the beginning of the New Year?

{Kosrat Rasul] We want to have a big conference and invite many guests around the world. The beginning of the New Year is a holiday time and many people would not be able to attend. But we will hold our conference early next year.

[Awena] There is a hot issue in Kurdistan which is the trial of those who participated in anfal genocide operations from head of jash (mercenary) forces and other men of the Bath regime. As a veteran peshmarga what do you think about this?

{Kosrat Rasul] I believe that anyone who has perpetrated a crime against the people of Kurdistan and Iraq should be dealt with according to law.

[Awena] Eve though some of these heads of mercenary forces are now sheltered by KDP and PUK?

{Kosrat Rasul] Wherever they may be, if they were summoned by law, they should be handed over.

[Awena] Is this your own view or the view of PUK as well?

{Kosrat Rasul] In 1991 we declared an amnesty to the people connected with the previous regime. Now I believe we should hand this issue over to Kurdistan parliament because parliament can take legitimate decisions. PUK or KDP or government do not have such power. It is within the power of parliament to decide whether to arrest them or forgive them.

[Awena] If you were a member of parliament what would you decide?

{Kosrat Rasul] There are differences of the degree of criminal responsibility of heads of jash forces. Some are very guilty. Some were trying to protect their areas and tribe and then they cooperated with peshmarga forces. We must make this difference.

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