On 3 November 2010, the Parliament of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)
passed a law regulating demonstrations within the KRG. According to
various civil society groups, the Parliament took a bill drafted by civil
society, changed its main principals and then passed it with no open discussion
beforehand. Civil groups have not been able to gain access to the
revisions of the bill passed on 3 November.
After Parliament passed the law, many civil groups published statements asking
the President of the KRG, Mr. Barzani, to return the law to Parliament to for
public discussion and emendation. On 25 November, the civil groups of
Sulaimani gathered to discuss further actions that could unite the voices of
civil groups in the three provinces of the KRG: Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimani.
According to the law, groups organizing any kind of demonstration have register
and receive permission to mount these demonstrations from the authorities
seventy-two hours beforehand. This stipulation clearly takes away the
right of spontaneous demonstration or association. If any violence occurs
at the demonstration, the authorities can charge the organizers with a crime.
Finally, the authorities can use force to stop demonstrations but the law
is not clear as to which armed group—military, anti-terrorist, security or
civilian police—will wield this force.
Non-governmental organizations wish to have further consultations with
Parliament to prevent this deprivation of free expression. They ask that
the president, Mr. Barzani, not sign the law but return it to the Parliament
for a transparent discussion. They hope to form a delegation to meet with
the president and other lawmakers soon.