Sulaimaniya: Day 24 of protest

Sulaimaniya: Day 24 of protest


Karzan Kardozi, once again tells us of the day of protest in Sulaimaniya. Incredibly there are virtually not news about the protest in South Kurdistan in the international media.
Karzan Kardozi is a cinema graduate who runs the blog

Today (Friday 11 March) was day Twenty Four of Protest here in Sulaimaniya, Iraqi Kurdistan. Large number protesting as the Friday prayer was held at Maidany Azadi.
Today was Friday which is a public holiday, beautiful and sunny with a cool wind, few shops were open and few cars on the streets around afternoon as Friday prayers was held at Maidany Azadi. Large crowd turned our for prayer, including Women and Children. After the prayer and a sermon, many went walking home carrying their prayer rugs with them, as they were walking away, more crowds, many Young Men would join the protest to take their place, the number went down a little around 1 PM to 2:30 PM, but soon more joined in,  at its peak around 4:00 PM, largest number so far that I had seen. After the pray, they gathered some money to keep the protest going, many contribute. The Speaker, “I just saw a poor Young Man, his cloth all white from painting walls all day, he is poor, but he gave us all of his pay” applaud and chant. Some Women during today’s prayer and sermon, bursting into tears. The square was packed, so many who prayed had to get into the surrounding streets.
Today, around 3:15 PM, a group of Protesters, made mostly of workers who were on strike marched from Kawa street toward Maidany Azadi, large crowd, they were carrying Kurdistan flag, chanting and applauding. With my friend San we were in the middle of the street taking pictures as they were marching, others taking pictures in front, “You better get out of the way, they’ll run you over”, walk to the side and take picture, as the front group reached Maidany Azadi, applaud and cheers “Welcome, Welcome” “?? ??? ???? ????????” more coming, some chanting “Down, Down” “?????? ?????”  and “We are Workers, Against Corruption” “”???? ??????????? ??? ?????????????”? by the time they arrived at the square, the place was packed.
We tried to get up behind the  loudspeaker to take some wide shot of the crowd, Suddenly, a group of the Protesters start to run away, the speaker shouting “Don’t run, Don’t run”, fear of stampede, “Why are they running?”, “I don’t know”, “A worker tried to burn himself in the middle of the crowd”, Protesters back to their places. The Speaker “Don’t let him burn himself, bring him up here, let him speak”. Crowd gathered in front of the loudspeaker, some were gathered around a Young Man “Is that the one who tried to burn himself?”, “No, he fainted”, walk away. It turned out that a Worker, a middle aged man did indeed tried to burn himself in the middle of the crowd, but they stopped him at the last second, holding his hand from lighting a match, even after they took off his cloth, he still wanted to burn himself, they took him away in an ambulance, his cloth drenched in gasoline. Many of the chant today was against President Masud Barzani, more signatures gathering for his resignation. Saw some blind people signing, the guys who was collecting the signature guiding their hand and the pen to write.

As times went on, more crowd gathered and the louder the chant got. The man who is on hunger strike was still in the tent, that was the only tent in the square, people would come and visit him, talk to him. More street-vendors, more customers, some of the carts now had Kurdistan flag and slogans on it.

The Old Women, the one who clean the place everyday was still there, the Protester loved her, she would start to talk and they would gather around her and applaud her, they would chant “Haji Jin, Haji Jin” “???? ??? ???? ??” Every time a passionate Young Man would make a speech, the die-hard crowd in front of the loudspeaker would chant “Gevara, Gevara” aka “Guevara, Guevara”. Around the loudspeaker today was crowded, and I mean crowded, it took me a long time to make my way into a higher positions to get a good shot of crowd, and what a large crowd. Large number of Women on the left of the loudspeaker, they were loud also. As someone would speak, the crowd would chant “????? ?? ??????? ???” a not so perfect translation “The President should bow to You”.

Today’s loudest cheers went to two people: The first one was a young man, Sivan, he was shot in the nick in February 17 in front of KDP’s headquarter, he was out of the hospital for the first time, as he spoke, silence in the crowd, he was weak, very weak and leaning against the Speaker as he spoke “I’m sorry that I could not be here before for I was in hospital”, “I’m here now and I wan to say that I support you with all my heart”, loud applaud and chanting “Sivan, Sivan”, silence, “They have not arrested anybody who had shot me, but I will not be silenced, we will get them all”, the crowd went into a fury of chant and applaud.

The second loudest cheer went to the slang poet, his name is Bahadin, the crowd were calling his name all day, “Where is Bahadin? Where s Bahadin?”, the Speaker, “We just called him, he will be here”. He appeared around 5:00 PM, the crowd chanting different name of Poem that he had read in previous days, he told the crowd “I’m sorry that I don’t have any new poem, but I will read you the ones before”, he would read a poem and the crowd would chant after him, applaud him. More humor today. Number of children spoke today, most of them reading poem. Sudden, out of nowhere a pigeon flew away from the crowd, into the top of the roof of one of the building, carrying a flag of Kurdistan, the crowd applauding.

As I left the place around 5:30 PM, large number of Protesters still in the square, more speeches and slogan. News that Masud Barzani was speaking to supporters of PUK and KDP in Erbil,  boooes and jeers, more chant against him and “Hawler is still Sleeping, Halwer is still Sleeping”.

Home now and Kurdistan TV (Belong to KDP) is showing President Masud Barzani speaking to a crowd in downtown Erbil, the crowd are carrying only PUK and KDP’s flag, “There are some hands that is trying to destroy what we have achieved”.  While Gali Kurdistan (Belong to PUK) is showing their supporter in Erbil dancing on the street with dance music on the background.

Let me mention one thing: I left home today early and did not know about the earthquake in Japan, I heard it from a Speaker at Maidany Azadi, he was showing his solidarity with the victims.

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