Iraqi Kurdistan mourns Mitterrand

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The autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan on Tuesday declared a day of mourning for Wednesday after the death of France's former first lady Danielle Mitterrand, a staunch defender of the Kurdish cause.

"For Kurds, Danielle Mitterrand is a symbol of solidarity for their cause during its most difficult days," Iraqi Kurdistan government chief Barhum Saleh told AFP of former president Francois Mitterrand's wife who died overnight aged 87.

"She supported human rights in Kurdistan and was one of those rare voices to defend the Kurdish people and speak out against injustice," he said.

"Danielle Mitterrand was a true defender of Kurdish rights worldwide."

Saleh hailed her as "a courageous and principled woman" who "put the Kurdish cause and the defence of Kurdish rights before other interests, when the position of her country and of the West was different" on the issue.

"We will miss her, but she will be forever in our hearts," he said, adding: "The government of the region has decreed a day of mourning for tomorrow," Wednesday.

© 2011 AFP

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