People of the Kurdistan Region currently living abroad or traveling on Sep. 25, the day of the referendum on independence, have expressed complaints regarding the list of the requirements needed to register online to vote. The people of the Kurdistan Region are heading toward a historic day, to decide whether to remain a part of Iraq or secede from the rest of the country as a newly-born independent state. Last week, the Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (IHERC) in the Kurdistan Region launched the website(www.khec17.net) for Diaspora Kurdistanis to register to vote in the referendum. Registration will be open for seven days, starting from September 1 until September 7. The list of the requirements, however, has concerned many Diaspora Kurdistanis as they are asked to register their ration card number, Iraqi national ID card, Citizenship card, and passport as well as sending in proof for some of the documents.
Ration cards are one of the main concerns for many in the diaspora, as most of them no longer have or never had them. The ration card, or food coupon, is related to the Oil-for-Food Programme (OIP) established by the United Nations in 1995 under the UN Security Council Resolution 986. The program was created in response to UN sanctions on the dictatorial system in Iraq, which allowed the country to sell oil in the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for the citizens of Iraq.
The UN officially terminated the program on 21 November 2003, but it continues to be sponsored and provided for by the current federal government of Iraq.
“I moved to Sweden with my family in 1991. We hadn’t received ration cards because we did not need them living abroad. Now, not having the card prevents me from voting in the upcoming referendum,” Sarkar Mustafa told Kurdistan 24 on Monday.