The Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani yesterday accused the successive Iraqi governments of suppressing the Kurds and pushing them to vote in a referendum on independence from Iraq.
Barzani said in a statement that "the Kurds have experienced 100 years of suffering with the Iraqi governments."
"The Kurds decided to hold the referendum in order to avoid war, reach peace and achieve independence," he said, adding that this is their right and its implementation does not mean antagonising any component in Iraq.
Barzani concluded by pointing out that Iraq must realise that the Kurdish people are not the reason that the country's unity would be dismantled.
Kurds in three provinces; Erbil, Sulaymaniyah and Dohuk will vote on 25 September on independence from Iraq. The results are non-binding.
The Iraqi government rejects the referendum, saying it does not comply with the Iraqi constitution which was approved in 2005, and does not serve the interest of the Kurds politically, economically or nationally.
Neighbouring Turkey also rejects the referendum, saying that preserving the territorial integrity of Iraq is linked to establishing security, peace and prosperity in the region.
The United States has repeatedly expressed concern about the referendum, saying it would deviate from urgent priorities, such as defeating Daesh and stabilising the country.