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Prime Minister Masrour Barzani’s Speech for Countering Hate Speech Conference in Erbil

Ladies and gentlemen,


Dear guests,


I would like to welcome you and I thank the organizers for this gathering to mark the International Day for Countering Hate Speech.

Throughout the history of humanity, hate speech and the incitement of violence have led to tragedies. At this time, which is the era of progress and technology, we still face such challenges, and the effects are consequential. We see war and bloodshed continue in many countries and regions of the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As stated in the conference title, Kurdistan has always been a cradle of peaceful coexistence. For thousands of years, this region has embraced different nations, religions, and beliefs; coexistence and tolerance have become part of our culture and way of life. In most parts of Kurdistan, Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Armenians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis and Jews lived together and helped each other in difficult times. I am from a village that had mosques, churches, and synagogues. I am always proud of this history and will do my best to preserve and promote this beautiful culture.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a place where all nations, religions, and faiths have felt peaceful and at home, the Kurdistan Region has been under the threat of hostile ideology, attempting to disrupt this culture of coexistence. Genocides have been committed against the nations and religions of Kurdistan.

Our recent history is a testament to the genocide and tragedies we have faced because of chauvinistic and hostile ideology and the denial of our existence. Annihilation, demolition, genocide, Anfal, and chemical bombardment were the result of an ideology that denied equality, justice, and recognition of the rights of other nations.

Today, many of Kurdistan’s aggressors are gone, but we remain because of the preservation of this culture of coexistence. We all know that during the September Revolution, despite all the killings committed against our fellow citizens, General Mustafa Barzani did not allow the conflict to become a fight between Kurds and Arabs. He always stated that the battle was against authoritarian regimes, not any nation. During the uprising, only three years after the Anfal genocide and chemical attacks, thousands of Iraqi soldiers were captured in the Kurdistan Region. President Barzani ordered that they must be respected and protected.

We will always preserve this beautiful culture, and our message will be one of empathy, peaceful coexistence, and respect for equality and justice. We will not allow ideas of violence to be imported into our region. Unfortunately, history has not been a lesson to some, and there are still attempts to spread authoritarian and chauvinistic ideology.

We have made significant compromises to establish a federal, democratic Iraq. We have made full effort to create a new Iraq in which all its components feel represented, and their rights protected. Unfortunately, we see that this has not been the path that Iraq is following, rather it is being taken in a direction that is a repetition of the bitter experiences of the past.

It is regrettable to see attempts being made to violate our constitutional rights and to hear hate speech against the Kurdistan Region. The misinformation published and the misleading narrative that is spread, which portrays the development of the Kurdistan Region as having been made at the expense of other parts of Iraq, should not be the way to hide corruption, mismanagement, and waste of public wealth.

In the years when Iraq was going through a sectarian war, the Kurdistan Region became a haven for all sides. All the tribes that were enemies in other parts of Iraq became neighbours in the Kurdistan Region. During the war against ISIS terrorists, hundreds of thousands of people from other parts of Iraq fled to the Kurdistan Region. Many of them are still not ready to leave the camps and return to their homes because they still feel threatened.

We are proud to have a culture of coexistence and we should all strive to advance these principles. We call on the people and leaders of other parts of Iraq to prevent the spread of ideas of violence and rejection of each other and to learn from Iraq’s bloodstained history. Let us all work together to establish peace and stability. Let us become an example for the elimination of hatred, war and bloodshed, not only in our region and Iraq but also throughout the wider region and around the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, I emphasise that adhering to the Iraqi Constitution is the only guarantee of stability and the protection of the rights of all Iraqi citizens. Kurdistan and its people have suffered from many attempts at genocide such as Anfal, chemical bombardment, the taking of our lands, forced displacement, and the erasure our national identity. Therefore, and in accordance with the Constitution, we demand compensation for the oppression that has been inflicted on our people.

Our problems are not just salaries and finance, most of our constitutional rights have been ignored. The most telling example is that until now in Kirkuk and its surrounding areas, Kurdish and Turkish farmers are threatened and their lands are being invaded. They want to reduce our rights to just finance and salaries and then use this issue against us.

I ask the authorities in Baghdad to respect the Constitution and to learn from history. What we can achieve with peace and stability will not be achieved through war, oppression, and persecution.

I call on the citizens of Kurdistan and the political parties of the region to not forget the struggles and sacrifices of our people, and not lose our shared values under any pressure and for any narrow benefit. I call on them to continue to develop our culture of coexistence and respect the sacred values we hold dear, to secure a strong and prosperous homeland.

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