WASHINGTON — The Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) salutes Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum on independence and its results, where the people voted for three provinces of northern Iraq to become part of the sovereign Iraqi Kurdistan.
On September 25, CNN and other new services are reporting that: “The first results should be known within 72 hours. Kurdish election officials said 72 percent of eligible voters had cast their votes in the referendum. The Kurdistan Regional Government, which administers a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq, says the referendum will give it a mandate to achieve independence from Iraq.”
“Iraq has been beset by war for generations now, and this peaceful expression of free will from the people of Iraqi Kurdistan should be respected as a basic human right to help create a better future for the Kurds and all the other groups in the region, including the Christian and other minorities,” Assembly Co-Chairs Anthony Barsamian and Van Krikorian said. “This type of expression of popular will demands that we respect the process, and democracies should be supporting peaceful exercises of self-determination consistent with universal human rights in and similar to Iraqi Kurdistan,” they added.
The Kurdish people have treated Armenians who reside within its territory in Iraq well throughout the years. “There are just a few of us in Kurdistan. But thanks to God, we have been given most of our rights,” Ishkhan Milko, an Armenian member of the Duhok Provincial Council, told Rudaw, “We have a seat in the Kurdistan parliament as well as a seat in the Duhok Provincial Council.”
Many Armenians ended up in northern Iraq as a result of deportations during the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Even though some Kurdish communities were exploited and encouraged by the Turkish Ottoman regime to attack the caravans of Armenians, many Kurds refused and instead rescued them from death.
Kurdish officials have also issued statements expressing their condolences for the Armenian Genocide. According to journalist Christopher Hitchens’ article in Slate, he wrote that: “In 1991, in northern Iraq, where you could still see and smell the gassed and poisoned towns and villages of Kurdistan, I heard Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan say that Kurds ought to apologize to the Armenians for the role they had played as enforcers for the Ottomans during the time of the genocide. Talabani, who has often repeated that statement, is now  president of Iraq.” Hitchens went on to note: “I would regard his unforced statement as evidence in itself,