Only around 3,150 gun owners in the Kurdistan Region have permits for their firearms, according to the interior ministry which issues licenses to gun owners across the Kurdistan Region in coordination with provincial authorities. There are no official data about the number of guns or people who carry them, but the ministry says the large majority of gun owners have no permission for their firearms. “The provincial authorities have the legal powers to issue licenses for applicants who fulfill certain criteria including medical reports that show they have no mental illnesses”, said Sami Jalal at the interior ministry. According to Jala the ministry has struggled to prevent unauthorized gun ownership, as the provincial and local authorities often have access to more accurate information about the background of the applicants. Those who apply for gun licenses are obliged to obtain recommendations from a doctor, the police and the security agencies. They also must be 18 years of age or older and with no record of past misconduct. At least 70 people were detained last week in Erbil after a police raid targeted unlicensed gun owners, most of whom were released on bail or after paying fines. Kurdistan Region laws have heavy penalties for unlicensed gun owners including relatively long jail sentences — up to one year in prison in addition to paying fees.
Kurdistan Region lawmakers made clear to the European Parliament of their conviction that Turkey must release the jailed co-leaders and lawmakers of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Barzan Hassan said a Kurdish delegation from the Kurdistan Parliament presented the signatures of 40 lawmakers to officials from the European Parliament on Thursday as a show of support for jailed HDP politicians and co-leaders in Turkey. “We support the release of [Selahattin] Demirtas and his friends because they are Kurds”, lawmaker from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Salar Mahmoud, said. Mahmoud added they will meet with the deputy head of the European Parliament for talks on the same issue. The Kurdish politicians said they hoped that the European Parliament will consider the case of the HDP lawmakers’ detention by Turkey. Since the collapse of a ceasefire between the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Turkey in 2015, the Turkish government has stepped up its campaign against Kurdish officials, including those from the HDP, accusing them of links to the PKK – an allegation the HDP denies.
At least 100 Iraqi lawmakers have now signed a petition that calls for the parliament to impeach and possibly remove Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim from his post after raising the Kurdish flag used by Iraqi Kurds in the contested province, several MPs have told Rudaw. The Turkmen and Arab provincial lawmakers have threatened to bring the case to the Supreme Court in Baghdad which is the highest judiciary office in Iraq and could reverse the decision. Turkmen lawmaker Niazi Miemaruglu said they plan to collect over 200 signatures in the Iraqi parliament in condemnation of the flag decision and impeachment of the embattled governor who has vowed not to lower the flag. high-ranking Kurdish delegation visited the Iraqi capital last week partly in a bid to reduce the ethnic tensions that could derail an anticipated referendum for Kurdish independence and possible integration of Kirkuk with the Kurdistan Region.
Turkey’s Kurdish region,— Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan described himself as a “guardian of peace” on Saturday as he called on Kurds in Turkish Kurdistan to vote ‘yes’ in a referendum in two weeks time on reforms that would grant him sweeping new powers. Since July 2015, Turkey initiated a controversial military campaign against the PKK in the country’s southeastern Kurdish region after Ankara ended a two-year ceasefire agreement. Since the beginning of the campaign, Ankara has imposed several round-the-clock curfews, preventing civilians from fleeing regions where the military operations are being conducted.
The United States continues to supply weapons to Kurdish forces in Syria despite assurances to the contrary, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday. “The US says it does not give weapons to the YPG [People’s Protection Units], but we know that they do. We see that the YPG and the PKK [Kurdistan Workers’ Party] are the same and arming them is wrong. We know that the US continues to give them weapons, and we have expressed our concerns with the fact,” Cavusoglu said.