Kurds living in Australia celebrate independence vote amid fears for loved ones abroad

Days after 93 per cent of voters showed their support for independence, the Kurdish community in Australia have celebrated the country’s break from Iraq.


Kurds gathered in Sydney on Wednesday night at an event organised by the community with live entertainment, including traditional music and dancing.

Kurdish Lobby Australia is a not-for-profit association that helps individuals and groups in and outside Australia.


Co-chairman Zirian Fatah told SBS World News the celebrations had been a long time coming.

“It’s a 100-year-old argument that’s been continually fought, we no longer wish to go through the route of war,” Mr Fatah said.

“We believe if the Iraqi Prime Minister has the good intention, we can be good neighbours and it can be resolved through dialogue peacefully.”

The Iraqi government on Thursday escalated its confrontation with its northern Kurdish region, vowing to shut down Kurdistan’s airspace, borders and oil exports.

“Because they’ve already threatened war, the closing of our airports, closing of our borders, we don’t think that it’s a constructive way forward. The way to have dialogue is to sit down on the table and not make threats,” Mr Fatah said.

Kurds in Erbil celebrate after the announcement of the results of the independence referendum.AAP

The Australian representative of Kurdistan National Congress, Ismet Tastan, says he is concerned for the welfare of family and friends abroad.

“It was a bit shocking for us,” Mr Tastan said.

“We’re told it was going to be a peaceful process.

“I spoke to my mum yesterday, and she says all my family, her side of the family and our neighbours are really concerned, and they expect the international community to support Kurdish people.”

Mr Tastan said it could be too soon for celebrations here in Australia.

“We don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said.

“We are living in Australia and we don’t want to cause trouble living here.”

Despite pressure from the Iraqi government, Mr Fatah says nothing will halt their celebrations and their support for Kurdish independence.

Kurdish Lobby Australia and members of the Democratic Kurdish Community Centre are calling for Australian backing.

“We sincerely hope that the Australian government and the international community can support Kurdistan in their efforts of achieving independence,” Mr Fatah said.

SBS World News has contacted the Iraqi community for comment.