Kurdish Leader Calls on Kurds to Abstain from Iraq War - 4 April, 2003

'We aren't planning on being weapons in the hands of imperialists,' says Chairman of the Armenian Congress for the Liberation of Kurdistan and Democracy (KOKD) Yelmaz Shiar. 'Several Kurdish leaders, including Masud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, have become blind weapons in the hands of the Americans. KOKD is calling on them to refuse to participate in this meaningless and dirty war,' Shiar told Rosbalt on Friday.

According to Shiar, the Kurds, who are recklessly joining sides with the Americans, are becoming involved with their leaders in a conflict. KOKD, which is headed by Abdul Odzhalan, intends to work toward a federal structure of government in Iraq through democratic methods only and rejecting war. 'But if someone tries to take away the freedom of the Kurds, they will be strongly rebuffed by KOKD,' said Shiar.

Shiar said the war in Iraq was caused by three factors: oil, political hegemony in the region, and the struggle between Christianity and Islam. However, whatever its outcome - a U.S. or Saddam Hussein victory - the suffering of peaceful populations will not end because there is essentially no difference between Hussein's regime and U.S. President George W. Bush's "democracy". The entire structure of the modern political world has to change,' said Shiar. 'A long time ago in Iraq, Arabs and Kurds coexisted peacefully and together built the country; however, with the advent of Saddam's regime everything changed. Moreover, the West looked the other way at the Saddam's dictatorships aspirations,' said Shiar.

Commenting on the bringing in of thousands of Turkish soldiers to Northern Iraq, Shiar said that such a situation had no historical precedent. 'However, already for the past three years on the insistence of Barzani and Talabani, Turkish power has occupied two small regions in Iraq,' said Shiar. He appealed to all people to unite against the war in Iraq. 'Separately, I would like to speak to the government and people of Russia. Russia is a large and democratic country which has always defended the interests of aggrieved people everywhere. The Russian people should not forget about the Kurds which also have the right for freedom, for their own culture, and their own government,' said Shiar.

Approximately 50,000 Kurds live in Armenia of which more than 90 percent are Yezidi Kurds who practice their own religion which combines elements of Judaism and Islam.

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