Washington, D.C., Oct. 15, 2004 - Abdul-Rahman Mustafa, governor of Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk, today denied allegations from Turkey and some Turkomen representatives that any attempts have been made to change the demographic character of Kirkuk or to "re-Kurdify" the city after the Arabization program under the former Saddam Hussein regime.
Mustafa's comments came during the weekly one-hour VOA Kurdish call-in show Hello Washington. Mustafa held to his position that the entire population of Kirkuk should collectively and jointly decide the future of the city — Kurds, Arabs, Turkomens and Assyrians — without any outside interference. Mustafa said, "We shall do our best to improve conditions in Kirkuk. If we have not succeeded so far, it is because of lack of sufficient funds and resources. Our aim is to turn Kirkuk into a city of 'brotherhood' among all ethnic and religious groups in the region."
Joining Mustafa in the discussion were Kadir Hama Jan Aziz, president of the city council of Sulaimania and Falakaddin Kakeyi, advisor to Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Masoud Barzani. All three participants expressed optimism for the future of Kirkuk and expressed optimism in being able to solve most issues peacefully and through legal and political processes.
VOA's Kurdish Service airs four hours of radio programming daily to Iraq and other targeted areas. Airshows are available for live and on demand listening via the Internet at www.VOANews.com/kurdish.
The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English and Kurdish.
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