Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Why do we always choose to burn when we want to resolve a conflict?

In this part of the world, fire seems to be the only means for resolving any sort of dispute. Women set fire to their own bodies to end disputes with their families. Media offices are set on fire to silence them. Liquor stores and massage parlors are burnt to put an end to whatever some people don't seem to like. And political party offices are burnt if they are accused of whatsoever that is not to the liking of the powerful parties.

I just don't get it. Why do we, Kurds, are always ready to choose to burn when we want to resolve a conflict? Could this be an intrinsic characteristic of the Kurdish man who consciously chooses to not choose the peaceful dialogue as a tool of resolving disputes? May be holding discussions and dialogues does not conform to the Kurdish man's masculinity and thus hurts his pride?

Almost all conflicts can easily be avoided and resolved no matter how big they are. Th torching of the liquor stores and political party offices in Zakho earlier this week needs to be seriously taken into account in order to prevent future re-occurrence.

A few dozen people should have never attacked beverage stores and massage parlors and torch them. This is really dangerous for the Kurdish region that has been able over the past two decades to establish some sort of order, though not perfect. I do not want to talk about personal freedoms, for now, we all agree that one is free to drink alcohol and that Christians and Yazidis are entitled under Iraqi law to have liquor shops - just put that aside. Let's talk about it from a different point of view. If those people who torched the liquor stores and massage centers really were angry about the existence of those places in the town and wanted to send a message to the authorities to do something about them there were several peaceful ways they could have used such as writing a memo to the authorities and requesting, for instance, the moving of those places to other places away from civilian populations and central town. Or they could have campaigned for their cause by having a petition signed by as many as people and then sending this to the authorities, or even they could stage a demonstration where they could call on the authorities to find ways to reconcile the liquor stores and the angry people. All these are characteristics of a democracy.

On the other hand, it should have never been allowed for a few dozen people, whether or not fans of, or encouraged by, a certain political party, to torch Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) offices and accuse it of being behind the attacks. Why do we have courts and the security forces, then, if we just judge everything on our own without letting the security forces to investigate the incidents and without letting the courts to do their jobs?

If a political party was really responsible for the violence, it should have been investigated and the facts should have been shown to people supported by evidence and then let the courts decide what their fate would be. But the Kurdish desire for fire just did not let this happen.

I am really astonished. How can we so easily torch, in a moment of outrage, all that has been built in years? How can we torch such headquarters, offices, and other public places like liquor stores, all of which paint a colorful image of democracy?

The real question now is: Where is the rule of law in Kurdistan that the authorities always talk about? What are the security forces paid for, to stand idle and watch on as a bunch of rioters set fire to liquor stores and party offices? In fact, why can people so easily set fire to public property? And what will be the next step of the authorities? Will they enforce law or will try to silence the issue in behind curtains agreements?

Raber Y. Aziz