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Kadhimi removes Kurdish language from official papers: Kurdish MPs

The removal of the Kurdish language from official documents and papers newly issued by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s office has been decried as “unconstitutional” by Kurdish lawmakers.

“We were surprised to see the removal of the Kurdish language from the official papers of the Prime Minister’s Office, in the first clear constitutional violation of this new government,” Jamal Shukir, a Kurdish MP for Kirkuk said in a statement released Thursday.

Shukir said he had had “high hopes” that Kadhimi would be able to mend strained sectarian tensions between Erbil and Baghdad. However, the removal of the Kurdish language from the official documents and papers issued by the prime minister’s office threatens to create “another political crisis,” Shukir said.

Kurdish representatives in Baghdad called on the office of the Prime Minister to “reconsider” the step and abide by Article 4 of the Iraqi constitution, which designates Kurdish as one of Iraq’s two official languages alongside Arabic.

Dilan Ghafour, Kurdish MP who belongs to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party told Rudaw English on Friday that the Kurdish blocs inside the Iraqi parliament will sent a letter to Kadhimi this week to officially demand the return of Kurdish language to the official papers of the Prime Minister office.

“We have observed that the official papers and documents issued by Iraqi Prime Minister office lack the Kurdish language, which is an unconstitutional step and unacceptable by the Kurdish representatives in Baghdad.” Ghafour said, adding that the Kurdish blocs would be following up with a formal complaint letter to demand that the language be restored alongside Arabic on all official documents.

“Speech, conversation, and expression in official domains, such as the Council of Representatives, the Council of Ministers, courts, and official conferences, in either of the two languages,” Article 4.2 of the Iraqi constitution reads.

The prime minister regularly tweets in Kurdish alongside Arabic and English languages on his official twitter account.

Kadhimi received the endorsement of Kurdish blocs, a key factor in his being confirmed as Iraq’s prime minister on May 7 after a long period that the premiership sat vacant. In his past career as a journalist, Kahdimi had also helped document the Anfal genocide campaign against Kurds during the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Kadhimi was also part of a group of Iraqi opposition movement members accompanying the binational documentary crew who visited the town of Shorsh, near Chamchamal in Sulaimani province in 2002, when the Iraqi opposition movement was working to document Saddam Hussein’s atrocities against Kurds in Iraq.

The Kurdish Language

The Kurdish language, which is the 59th-most used in the world, is spoken by over 30 million people and is the native tongue of Kurds who inhabit regions spanning present-day Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

Kurdish is composed of four main dialects: Upper Kurdish (Kurmanji or Badini), Central Kurdish (Sorani), Lower (Southern) Kurdish, and Zazaki-Gorani.

Out of the 30 million Kurds, about half are in Turkey, with six million in Iran, over five million in Iraq, and less than two million in Syria, counted prior to the civil war. Millions of Kurdish speakers also live in diaspora in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Germany, as well as in Europe and North America.

Over the years, Kurds, geographically surrounded by large Arab, Turkish and Persian populations, have struggled to maintain the identity of their language, which is classified by scholars as Indo-European. Source