Turkish president urges Kurdish Regional Government to reconsider referendum on independence
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday called on northern Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) to suspend its referendum for independence slated for next week, cautioning that it would engender further instability the region.
Baghdad and the regional government need to achieve compromises "on the basis of territorial integrity and the realization of the ideals to build a common future", Erdogan told UN members during his address to the General Assembly.
"Steps such as demands for independence that can cause new crises and conflicts in the region must be avoided," he said.
Residents in provinces controlled by the KRG will vote Sept. 25 on independence from Baghdad.
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is among the contested areas where the vote is planned.
Last week, Iraqi lawmakers voted against the independence referendum and called on the Baghdad government to negotiate with the Kurdish Regional Government.
The Iraqi government is opposed to the poll, claiming it would affect the war against Daesh, cause instability and violate the Iraqi Constitution.
Turkey, the U.S., Iran and the UN have all backed Baghdad in speaking out against the referendum.
Turning to the ongoing violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar, Erdogan said the situation risked going down as a "dark stain" in history.
“The Muslim community in the Rakhine region of Myanmar is being subjected to almost an ethnic cleansing, with provocative terrorist acts used as a pretext," Erdogan said. "The villages of the Rohingya Muslims, who have already been living in extreme poverty and misery and deprived of their citizenship rights, are burned down as hundreds of thousands of people are forced to migrate from the region and the country," he added.
The international community "has not given a good account of itself" regarding the "humanitarian plight.
"If this tragedy in Myanmar is not stopped, the history of humanity will face the embarrassment of another dark stain," he said.
About 421,000 Rohingya Muslims have crossed from Myanmar to Bangladesh since Aug. 25, the UN said Tuesday.
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Last October, following attacks on border posts in Rakhine's Maungdaw district, security forces launched a five-month crackdown in which, according to Rohingya groups, around 400 people were killed.
The UN documented mass gang rapes, killings -- including of infants and young children -- brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by security personnel.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.