Kurdistan’s brothers in independence: Catalans

BARCELONA — Catalan officials and its people are well aware of the Kurdistan Region and its upcoming Kurdish referendum on independence and are waiting to see the international community’s reaction.

“The referendum in Kurdistan will be held one week before our referendum,” Quim Arrufat told Rudaw in Barcelona. 

The former Catalan MP who is organizing a campaign for the yes-vote believes the international community will have its eyes trained on Kurdistan next month.

“And this is very important for us, because in that week maybe we will see … different international powers recognize the result of the Kurdish referendum and maybe giving Kurdistan the status of a state, of an independent state, it will be very useful for us,” Arrufat added.

Catalonia has enjoyed varying degrees of autonomy over the past century from the Spanish governments in Madrid. 

One man said the people of Catalonia and of the Basque Country support “all the other people who do not have freedom yet.”

The semi-autonomous region will hold a referendum on independence on October 1, six days after the Kurdistan Region.

Catalan lawmakers have passed legislation to make their referendum binding.

“I am happy that Kurds say ‘We are your friends,’ ” said Sonia Sierra, a member of Catalan parliament.

Catalans, who speak their own distinct language from Spanish, want to preserve their mother tongue just as many Kurds do.

“What have those people done [wrong]? Speaking Kurdish?,” said Oriol Amoros, the Secretary of Migration. “This is a sin … to be banned to speak the language of your mother? This is a problem? What kind of crazy dictators do we have in the world still in the 21st century?”

The secretary draws parallels between the aspirations of Kurds and Catalans.

“We’re pro-freedom, pro-liberties and pro the right of people to decide peacefully,” he concluded. “And I think it’s the same cause of the Kurds.”

According to their government’s statistics, there are about 4.8 million Catalans living in their four provinces within Spain. There are an estimated 200,000 other Catalans around the world, according to the Museum of the History of Catalonia.

In 2006, Catalans approved a referendum promising greater autonomy, but the Constitutional Court of Spain in 2010 declared some of the articles of the statue non-valid.

In November 2015, Catalan lawmakers also voted to approve a plan for secession from Spain by 2017. 

Catalonia’s parliament approved new procedures in June allowing the region to declare independence within 48 hours of the referendum's passage. 

Editors' choice: Catalonia and Kurdistan Look Beyond Preserving Language and Heritage

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