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Iraqi Kurds’ referendum fever spills over to Turkish cousins

As Iraqi Kurdistan’s independence vote nears, some Turkish Kurds are making efforts to thaw Turkish opposition to the referendum.

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Iraqi Kurdistan is gripped by excitement ahead of the Sept. 25 independence referendum. The sense of hopeful anticipation, however, is not limited to Iraqi Kurds. Their cousins in neighboring Turkey — reeling from Ankara’s heaviest crackdown in years — are watching the process with an equal excitement, hoping that a vote for independence will boost the standing of Kurds across the region. And some are not only watching. Kurdish groups on good terms with Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Regional Government have joined forces to promote the referendum, striving to allay deep-rooted Turkish apprehension and hostility toward Kurdish independence.

The Initiative for Support of the Independence Referendum includes small Kurdish movements such as the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), the Turkey Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Azadi Movement, the North Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Freedom and Socialism Party and the Kurdistan Socialist Party (PSK) as well as seven independent figures. Turkey’s main Kurdish political movement, the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) — whose leaders are languishing in jail — is not part of the initiative.

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