A newly-elected Kurdish lawmaker on Tuesday used a bicycle to go to parliament and refused all the parliamentary entitlements.
Jalal Pareshan, a new lawmaker of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), rode a bicycle to the parliament’s first session to take his oath.
He attached an umbrella with Kurdistan’s national flag on his bicycle and also installed a small box in the back to take complaints from people and deliver them to the parliament’s leadership.
“My message is clear: I want all the people of the Kurdistan Region to understand why Jalal Pareshan is going to parliament via bicycle,” Pareshan told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday. “I will leave it for them to interpret my message, and I am sure they will know why I am doing this.”
Cycling is “a normal culture in many parts of the world,” he stated. “Almost all the doctors have emphasized that it is the best sport for our health. It is also important for the environment.”
Indeed, in North America and Europe, as well as parts of Asia, many politicians pedal to work. Pareshan called on all the lawmakers and high officials in the Kurdistan Region to break the norms and join in the culture of cycling.
“It is not only for today; I will use the bicycle for the rest of the days.”
Cycling is common for children and teenagers in the Kurdistan Region, but it is yet to gain popularity among adults and the elderly. Most people relate the lack of Kurdistan’s cycling culture to the absence of proper roads or bike lanes.
Upon his arrival at parliament, Pareshan told reporters during a press conference that he wants “to be that bridge to fill the gap.”
“I installed a ‘Complaints Box’ on my bicycle because many people were arguing that their requests and demands are not delivered to the highest authority in the Kurdistan Region which is the parliament.”
He also announced that he would not accept any of the entitlements and privileges which are given to parliamentarians in the Kurdistan Region.
“Today, I would like to inform the people of the Kurdistan Region in front of the media that in the parliament, I don’t want the salary, driver, bodyguards, IQD 40 million” or any other entitlements, not only during this parliamentary term but for decades more if I am re-elected.
“There are two things that change people: power and money. If these two things don’t affect you, you can serve your people well,” Pareshan added.
Pareshan was a member of the Erbil Provincial Council and continues his work as a football pundit and commentator for local Kurdish media.
He was one of the top-voted candidates in the Kurdistan Region’s Sept. 30 parliamentary election, securing a seat with 30,444 votes.