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The Kurds and the Green Movement


07 Jun 2010 22:5712 Comments
29032zk1.jpgTranslator's note: On May 9, five political prisoners were executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Four of these prisoners were Kurds, including the young teacher, poet and writer, Farzad Kamangar, and a young woman, Shirin Alamhouli. Following these executions, a general strike took place in Iranian Kurdistan on May 13. Mir Hossein Mousavi, Mehdi Karroubi and many Green Movement activists also condemned the executions. Three months prior to the May 9 executions, Abdullah Mohtadi, secretary general of the Kurdish Komala Party, had issued a statement aimed at forging solidarity between the Kurds and the Green Movement. Large translated excerpts follow. My glosses are interpolated in square brackets. --Frieda Afary

The Kurdish people have never called for violence to solve social and political problems. Today, more than ever, they refuse such solutions. Let's not forget that the good will of the Kurds and their belief in dialog and peaceful solutions have time and again cost them the lives of their leaders.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, a famous Kurdish leader, lost his life while he was engaged in negotiations. Why? Because the "negotiators" of the Islamic Republic suddenly turned out to be terrorists. They personally murdered him and his accompanying negotiating team in the heart of Europe. [Reference to the assassination of the leader of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, and two other Kurdish delegates in Vienna on July 13, 1989.]

We demand a free and democratic civil society in which social and political problems are resolved through freely conducted discussions in the media, in society and ultimately through the ballot box. We demand a tolerant and pluralist society in which religious, linguistic, cultural and philosophical diversity is not a pretext for prejudice, repression and deprivation but the source for the richness and beauty of our country.

In particular, I would like to address the young generation of our country, the awakened generation which is courageously standing up to dictatorship, the generation which is soberly inspecting the imposed presuppositions of the past several decades. I would like to share some realities about Kurdistan with them.

One of the most obvious lies of the Islamic Republic concerns Kurdistan and the Kurdish people. These lies must be questioned and re-examined by you. The generation that has tested the lies and malicious propaganda of this regime must know that the Kurds have been bombarded by the regime's propaganda for the past 30 years.

During the past 30 years, the Kurds have faced the dictatorship and brutal suppression which you face today in the streets and detention centers. The justice-seeking, freedom-loving and humanitarian demands, which you have today, have been theirs as well.

A regime which has branded you as "enemies of God" because of your demands, has declared the people of Kurdistan to be "enemies of God" for the past 30 years. [This designation] has been used as a pretext for imprisoning and torturing Kurds or putting them in front of execution squads without any recourse.

Do you know how many young Kurdish women were raped in the "luminous era" of the Islamic Republic? They were raped by the "unknown soldiers of the Mahdi" in order to not be sent to paradise as virgins. Do you know how many were executed or hanged without any court of justice or due process?

Kurdistan was decimated. Families lost loved ones. Imprisonment, exile and deportation became the norm. Parties that had roots in the history, struggles and hearts of the Kurdish nation were remunerated with the bullet or the scaffold. The real reason for the siege of Kurdistan and its demolition with tanks was not any violence or beheadings committed by the Kurds, or any Kurdish collaboration with foreigners, or any other outright lie fabricated by the regime. It was the fact that the Kurdish people did not participate in the referendum on the Islamic Republic. [A referendum on creating an Islamic Republic was held in Iran on March 29-30, 1979. The people were offered a simple yes or no vote on the formation of an Islamic Republic.] The reason for their non-participation was that the Kurdish movement and its political organizations were secular and democracy-seeking. They were not willing to be subsumed by a monopolizing fundamentalist political Islam.

In the beginning of the revolution, when not only the clergy but today's religious revisionists were smitten by the government of religion, Shaikh Izz al-Din Husayni, the vanguard of religious revisionism in Kurdistan and the religious and spiritual leader of the Kurdish people, openly called for the separation of religion from state. He defended democracy, the rights of dissidents and equal rights for women. Did you know that? Did you know that we took a position against the hoopla over the takeover of the U.S. Embassy at the very time it occurred, and called it a weapon for leading the dissidents astray and subsequently suppressing them? [In December 1979, a group of Ayatollah Khomeini's followers took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and held 52 American staff members hostage until January 1981. Many progressive critics of the regime supported the hostage taking as an "anti-imperialist" act. The regime used the embassy takeover to divert attention from growing domestic repression.]

Did you know that there was no compulsory veiling and no Hezbollah organizing in free Kurdistan? Political and cultural organizations mushroomed everywhere. There was press freedom, and guaranteed security for all. Did you know that back then, Kurdistan had turned into a haven for freedom seekers from every corner of Iran?

Yes indeed, those wielding power and wealth in the Islamic Republic, hold a grudge against Kurdistan for the above reasons. They could not tolerate the presence of freedom in Kurdistan. That is why they have been crushing Kurdistan with bullets and fire since August 17, 1979.

Do not believe the lies of the Islamic Republic concerning the people of Kurdistan. The lies of the rulers and the regime's media are not limited to the past six months. For the past 30 years, we have been suffering not only from direct violence and suppression but also from the weight of a mountain of false and divisive accusations. Discard the predominant superstitions concerning the Kurds. Update your views on the people of Kurdistan and their demands.

Let me add that we have never capitulated during these dark decades. We have not genuflected but we have also never resorted to blind and terrorist tit for tats. We have kept our moral high ground vis-à-vis the enemies of freedom. Today's young generation needs to know that in Kurdistan, young people have lost their lives, but they did not capitulate. Many defiant heads were beheaded. The picture of the mass executions of Kurds, a picture which won the most prestigious award for best photo of the year, did not only prove the brutality of the soldiers of the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, it also made everlasting the image of the pride and honorable resistance of the people of Kurdistan. [Reference to the picture of a firing squad in Kurdistan in August 1979, taken by Iranian photographer Jahangir Razmi. It won an anonymous Pulitzer Prize in 1980 (above).]

Today's young generation in Kurdistan fully believes in the popular political and civil struggle, and is ready to join hands with you for our common freedom. Let us comprehend each other better in order to forge a stronger unity of youth throughout Iran for freedom and prosperity.

The demands of the Kurdish people in the past few decades have not been unknown, ambiguous, unusual or unjust. During the first few years after the revolution, these demands were presented to the delegations of the Islamic Republic by representative councils of the Kurdish nation.

The people of Kurdistan do not demand special rights or benefits for themselves. They do not demand separation from Iran. Their demands are not outside the common framework of contemporary democratic regimes and recognized standards of human rights. The people of Kurdistan rightly demand that the effective leaders and political and cultural figures of the Green Movement and the practical activists of the movement, approve and support the demands of the people of Kurdistan, and in so doing allay their rather legitimate fears.

A new understanding of the history of the past 30 years is being shaped in many areas, and former false and misleading interpretations have been replaced by objective and clear interpretations. It is expected that writers who are effective in shaping public discourse, will further explore and discuss the conditions of the people of Kurdistan and what has happened to them.

Once again, I would like to express my solidarity with the democracy-seeking movement of the people of Iran and support the minimum demands of the movement (i.e. free elections), as well as immediate demands such as stopping executions and brutality, freeing all political prisoners and prisoners promoting various belief systems, freedom of speech, assembly, and association, as preconditions for a truly free election. I would like to warn against the danger of conciliation aimed at silencing the movement and the loud voices of the people who demand changing the political system of the country.

Once again, I would like to emphasize that the Kurdish people have suffered the most from dictatorship. They stand to gain much from the democratization of Iran. Therefore, any achievement of the popular movement against dictatorship will be warmly supported by them.

In conclusion, I consider it necessary to list the following as my understanding of the minimum demands of the people of Kurdistan. I hope that under the present circumstances, these demands will become the basis for unity within the popular justice-seeking movement in Kurdistan.

1. The annulment of execution orders, and in general, an end to political executions in Kurdistan. Freedom for all political prisoners and prisoners promoting various belief systems.

2. The dismantling of the repressive environment in Kurdistan. An end to the brutality of the military, security and police forces. An end to arbitrary arrests and any type of torture and abuse in prison. An end to arbitrary harassment, intrusions and searches conducted by government agents in Kurdistan. An end to the irresponsible shootings of civilians by the police.

3. Freedom of speech, publication, press, association, assembly.

4. Freedom for civil organizations such as trade unions and organizations of workers, teachers, university students, high school students, and non-governmental organizations.

5. Freedom for independent women's organizations in Kurdistan, and organizations that strive for women's equal rights. Freedom to choose one's clothing.

6. Complete freedom for political activity in Kurdistan, including unconditional freedom for activities of Kurdish political parties.

January 25, 2010

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As a concerned Iranian I would like for you to be a little more detailed about your statement,"complete freedom for political activity in Kurdistan, including unconditional freedom for activities of Kurdish political parties." What are these activities that you are after?
I do not see anything wrong for people to be in charge of their own destiny, but can you assure all Iranians that a free Kurdistan will remain a loyal province of Iran, that all Kurdish people will be taught the official language of Iran (Persian) along with the Kurdish language and all Kurdish people remain loyal to our sacred flag (not the flag of the Barbaric Republic)?
God bless the brave Kurdistan.

Niloofar / June 10, 2010 5:24 AM

To Niloofar

The Kurdish revolt with the formation of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in 1945 has never been fighting for seperatism, rather for democracy for Iran and autonomy for Kurdistan. The separatists were in Turkey and Iraq, which I hope for your own sake you understand. In Turkey you cannot be anything but a Turk, thus being Kurd and Turk is in conflict, being Iranian and Kurd doesn't conflict with each other.

However, if the people of Iranian Kurdistan want independence, that's their right to work for that through democratic means. Who are you to deny them that? Have you been protecting the Kurdish regions for hundreds of years? No.

But in general I think the Kurds would rather stay part of a federal Iran; and don't worry about the languages; farsi and kurdi will be taught.

Second, we have our own Zoroastrian flag and that should hang along with a new Iran flag, like in Quebec, Canada or Catalonia, Spain.

This is called democracy. We do not want a new Persian chavaunist.

Note: The Kurdish mission is not as much about seperation of states as it is about unifying Kurdistan. If you'd like to help include iraqi and turkish Kurdistan to federal Iran, be my guest.

Afshin / June 10, 2010 6:25 PM

Thank you for your response.
I am quite familiar with Turkey, but do not know too much about Iraq's Kurdistan.
You claim, "if the people of Iranian Kurdistan want independence, that's their right to work for that through democratic means."
That is not their right. Iran's Kurdistan is a part of Iran which belongs to all Iranians and that makes it a question for the people of Iran.

Who am I? One Iranian with one vote and I can assure you I will vote against it as I have no doubt the majority of Iranians will stand by me on this matter.

To have a falg representative of Iranian Kurdistan is fine just as in the United States each state has its own flag however, those flags fly second to the national flag and for a good reason.

All Iranians have suffered. There is no one group of Iranians that has anything over others. We are all in it together for a free and democratic Iran.

As for a Federal Iran or a new Iranian flag, that is a matter for the Iranian people. You and I have one vote each and don't you forget it. That is who I am.

Niloofar / June 10, 2010 11:20 PM

i have no problem for uniting the kurd with green movement,my husband is from kurdish tribe,but he always considers himself first and iranian then kurd.if all the provinces of iran all of the sudden claim for their autonomy,iran will be divided and that would be just fine for one of the senators in the us senate mrs harmon ,that early on suggested to divide iran.
these are not times for conflict and seperation,rather ,time for cohesiveness and strenght.

fay moghtader / June 11, 2010 7:06 AM

The people of the world want decentralization. Kurds want to be governed by Kurds and californians want to be governed by califorians. etc.

It doesn't really matter what the rest of Iran would like to impose on the minority Kurds. It doesn't matter what idiotic flag is used. The Kurds will govern themselves.

muhammad billy bob / June 12, 2010 3:34 AM

Billy the Bob will set a good example for the rest of the world and will kindly return California, New Mexico etc. back to Mexico since it does not matter what silly idiotic flags fly high in those states. Hispanics will govern themselves. We got it Billy boy, you #1 boy.

Niloofar / June 12, 2010 10:17 PM


Absolutely! Only Californians, and New Mexicans care who governs them. I certainly do not. And it certainly doesn't matter what silly piece of cloth flies high in those states.

Muhammad billy bob / June 15, 2010 6:07 PM


Your statement that Iran's portion of kurdistan belongs to all the people of Iran is quite disturbing. In fact, it shows you're disregard of understanding of personal liberty.

Why should the Kurds let the rest of Iran vote on their autonomy? These are the same people who've been forcing them into this union at gunpoint for many, many years.

It's is not up to the "Iranians" to decide the fate of Kurds. It is to the Kurds who should decide who governs them. And they will. Over time they will. Like all other humans on this planet, they desire to have their own intrest represtented in their own governance.
So, try as you will, and the rest of Iran will, Kurdistan will govern itself.

muhammad billy bob / June 16, 2010 11:18 PM

Billy the Bob,

You are such a liberal and generous person. We really need a Moooohammad billy bob to tell us how to run our country. Why don't you chop up the United States into 50 silly little states in the name of personal liberty and leave Iran alone? Do you read with your eyes closed? I said, "I do not see anything wrong for people to be in charge of their own destiny." In the United States you have 50 self-governing states but all under one federal flag/government. What is the matter with it? Are there no personal freedoms in U.S.? Why don't you go and focus on Iraq and Afghanistan and clean up your own mess while you are at it? Leave our country alone. Iranian Kurdistan is a part of Iran proper and belongs to all Iranians just as every inch of the United States belongs to all Americans. We wouldn't have it any other way.

Niloofar / June 17, 2010 10:23 AM


It's great that you don't see anything wrong with people choosing their own destiny. But how is letting people outside of the Kurdish region vote to decide their fate allowing them to decide their own destiny?

Iranians, of course, should run their own country. But, you guys don't seem to be doing such a great job at running your own country. I'm just trying to give a little realistic and humanistic advice.

All of America does not "belong" to me. Just as all of "Iran" does not belong to you, or any other Iranian. I have no right to tell my neighbor what school to go to, what crops to grow, if they can put a coal mine on their property, etc., etc. As long as it doesn't affect my property, it has nothing to do with me.

Why does it bother you that only those that live in the Kurdish region should vote for Kurdish independendce? if you're going to let the rest of Iran vote for what's best for them, why not let Virginians in on the vote, or Ukranians?

Every inch of any country does not, and cannot belong to everyone in that country. It has been proven time, and time again, that such beliefs and those that have attempted to force such things are complete failures.

Finally, why don't I focus on Iraq and Afganistan, and clean up my own mess? #1)these countries are not my mess. I have absolutely nothing to do with these adventures by the U.S. government. Just as, I'm sure, you have nothing to do with the murders the Iranian government has committed. And yes, I do focus on these issues. I have spent countless hours, and untold fortune trying to change U.S. policy regarding these adventures. What are you doing?

muhammad billy bob / June 18, 2010 9:51 PM

Hey Niloohoor,
How are you? Good, I hope.

I do not really consider myself liberal. Maybe liberal in the classical sense of John Locke and the Enlightened era philosophers.
As far as generous, I'm as generous as the next person. In as far as that generousity is benefital to me. As we both know humans act in their own self\ intrest. For the most part it is very benefitial to be kind and generous to your fellow humans. Whether that generousity makes me feel better about my self, or that generousity is an effort to assure others that I mean them no harm.

It is rather odd that you mentioned being liberal and generous. These are the 2 groups around the world that the Iranian government and the people that support and populate that government seem to want to alienate as much as possible.

The U.S. left, or liberals, in the modern terminology, is a demographic that the Iranian regime, and Islamist in general should want to befriend. Instead, what does the Iranian regime do? They arrest and imprison for months,3 idiot hippies from Berkley, who are hiking on the Iran-Iraq border. The Iranian government obviously does not realize that these type of people could be their greatest supporters and assets. Do the people in the Iranian regime, or those that support Islamic law globally, bother to attract supporters?

Given just half a chance, the U.S. left would be sending money and fanatical utopians their way en masse to help them suppress the non believers. Yet they choose to alientate these people every chance they can........Maybe that's why no one (other than Iranians) can take these people as serious opponants to liberty globally.

muhammad billy bob / June 20, 2010 3:33 AM

@billybob; what exactly is the relevance of three "hippies", who for all we know could indeed have been spies, or, whose arrest could have been meant to serve as a bargaining chip in some ongoing affair? characterizing and evaluatig the success of Islamic Iran's whole global strategy against this mere example (of which little is publicly known to boot), smacks of incompetence. in the meantime, Islamic Iran is indeed reaching out to, and consolidating ties with a great many social and political figures / movements around the world. that is why the Washington regime is spending hundreds of millions of US taxpayer money every year in a desperate catch-up attempt to drive wedges between Iran and its allies through propaganda and manipulation. but to little avail: the end of the US empire is inching closer at a rate well faster than its assorted apologists seem to assume.

as for the suggestion that it "wouldn't matter" to Washington D.C. if federated state entities proceeded to declare their independence one by one, flying their own flags above or instead of that of the union... well, when several southern states tried to do just that, we all know the US government needed a bloody civil war to get rid of the secessionist rebels. nowadays the totalitarian US regime might have means of social control far more subtle and "evolved", enabling it to forestall such scenarios preemptively, thanks to indirect media control and the ensuing massive brainwashing of the population. were socio-political conditions different however, the US would not hesitate to crush any secessionist move with utmost brutality.

arrogant powers such as the current Washington regime use notions such as "human rights" or "self-governance" in a highly selective manner, so as to serve their agendas. their ways, thus, qualify as double-standarded, unjust, indeed oppressive. the arrogant powers will never manage to destroy the Iranian society through the backing of regional separatisms, because the concerned people share a common Iranian and Islamic identity, and would never allow tribalism, ethnicism or other forms of sectarianism to threaten the national unity and territorial integrity of Iran. that includes the great majority of Kurdish-speaking Iranian citizens, who remain loyal to Islam and Iran. separatist grouplets are simply tools in the hands of the declared enemies of Islam and Iran, nothing more.

Muslim Iranian / July 3, 2010 6:10 AM