Yesterday afternoon, an Iraqi plane took off from the Belarusian capital Minsk, on the first flight to return some of its citizens to Erbil from Belarus, but the Iraqi Kurdish poet and activist Omid Ahmed refused to return to his country, saying, “I want to die here, not to return to Iraq, please.”
mention it a report It was published by the British “Middle East Eye” website, saying that the poet posted on his Facebook page his picture in the forest area on the border between Belarus and Poland, where he was camping with other refugees.
“I do not agree with the Iraqi government’s proposal at all, and I do not want to go back. I said to all my friends, and here I am telling you: I want to die here, not to go back to Iraq, please,” Omid said in a WhatsApp message from Belarus.
They pay people smugglers
It was reported that a number of travel agencies in Iraqi Kurdistan offer all-inclusive flights to reach Minsk, where Iraqis pay thousands of pounds to people smugglers to help them enter Europe.
In a tweet on Sunday, Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Masrour Barzani said his people were “deceived by human traffickers, and exploited by networks abroad” and that he was working to ensure the well-being of Kurdish citizens.
But for Omid and others, the real exploitation lies inside, with rampant unemployment, corruption and political repression making life unbearable. “In Kurdistan for 30 years, the country has been ruled by thieves and immoral mafias,” he said, referring to the Barzani and Talabani families, who They have controlled the Kurdish areas of Iraq since 1991.
they will kill me
Omid – after being arrested twice for his political activities – fears for his safety at home, saying: “I am sure that if I return the Kurdish authority will kill me, and I have spoken to many people who also say that they will not return, and will do their best to reach a country that treats them like human beings.” “.
He said he had tried several times to get out of Belarus, but faced harsh opposition at the EU border. “When we wanted to cross the border, the police stopped us and hurt us, going to the point of beating us and using dogs to stop us,” he said.
The fact that so many of Iraq’s Kurds are willing to take risks in the freezing temperatures – in which at least 11 migrants have already died, including two children – indicates how difficult life in the Kurdistan region can be for many.
Despite the economic boom
The KRG has long portrayed the KRG as a beacon of stability and tolerance compared to the rest of Iraq. While areas like Baghdad and Basra have had to deal with decades of sectarian violence, terrorist attacks and crumbling infrastructure, Erbil has seen an influx of investors and the construction of skyscrapers, and has enjoyed a modicum of tourism.
Despite the relative political stability and economic prosperity, Shivan Fadel, an Iraqi Kurdish researcher at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said there are perceptions of widespread corruption, inequality and political stagnation in the region, and this was the driver behind the recent crisis.
Fadel added that disaffected youth, who make up two-thirds of the population, bear the brunt and face severe unemployment, and many of them feel socially excluded in a region that has witnessed rapid economic and cultural development.
The inability of the political establishment
In late 2020, demonstrations erupted across the Kurdish region in protest against the deteriorating economic situation, which led to the deaths of at least 8 people. The offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were set ablaze, amid anger at the inability of the established political establishment to solve their problems.
Omid says electricity is not good, roads are bad, people’s financial situation is mostly bad and poverty rates are high, but the main reason most of them seek to emigrate is the dictatorship.
He adds that his activities as an opposition activist made him a target, and that the grip of the KDP and the PUK over the decades was the main reason he did not return to his homeland.
no turning back
Although conditions on the Polish border are harsh, and the chances of success seem slim due to stiff resistance on the part of European Union countries to allow migrants to enter their territory, many Iraqi Kurds chose to insist on arriving in the European Union rather than return to their country on Thursday.
“There is no turning back. Tell Iraq to make life better, then the people will return,” Bahadin Mohsen Qadir, an English-speaking Iraqi Kurd who identified himself as a spokesman for immigrants, told AFP.
He will continue to advance in Europe, Omid said, adding that his next step is to get out of Belarus and reach a peaceful country, a country that respects all its residents. “Our lives are not comfortable here, and we have already been killed and arrested in our country. I hope to arrive in a country where it is possible to live soon.” .