April 3, 2006


Tehran faces growing Kurdish opposition (James Brandon, April 3, 2006, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)

A little-known organization [The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, better known by the local acronym PEJAK or PJAK] based in the mountains of Iraq's Kurdish north is emerging as a serious threat to the Iranian government, staging cross-border attacks and claiming tens of thousands of supporters among Iran's 4 million Kurds. [...]

But the greater threat to the Tehran regime may come from the group's underground effort to promote a sense of identity among Iranian Kurds, who make up 7 percent of that country's population. PEJAK leaders say the effort is spreading quickly among students, intellectuals and businessmen.

"The Iranian government's plan to create a global Islamic state is destroying our people's culture and values," said Akif Zagros, 28, a graduate in Persian literature who was interviewed in a simple stone hut at the group's headquarters. "So we fight back. But our aim is not just to bring freedom to Kurds, but to liberate all the peoples of Iran."

If they think of themselves as Kurds then they will be.

"The Iranian government is strong. But not that strong.": In the mountains with a Kurdish opposition group trying to bring democracy to Iran. (David Enders, March 29 , 2006, Mother Jones)

The group has been exiled to the mountains of northern Iraq during its struggle to bring democracy to Iran, but the members of PJAK remain surprisingly optimistic. They began organizing underground cells and demonstrating in Iran in the mid-1990s, but after facing persecution by the Tehran government in 1999, many members fled and set up a base in Kandeel. In 2004, the group began carrying out small-arms attacks inside Iran against military targets, in response to Iranian aggression against Kurds in the country's western provinces. BBC Persia reported that PJAK killed 120 Iranian police officers during a six-month period in 2005. It is currently one of the largest—if not the largest—Iranian opposition group, claiming 4,000 members in Kandeel and thousands more inside Iran.

PJAK claims that its numbers have risen steadily since its formation, and that its existence is convincing many of Iran's approximately 3.7 million Kurds—about 7 percent of the country's total population—that the theocratic government in Tehran can be challenged both militarily and politically.

"The Iranian government is strong," says Akif Zagros, 28, a former journalist and a founding member of PJAK. "But not that strong."

Since the creation of modern Iran, the Kurdish minority inside the country has endured oppression—as have Kurds in neighboring countries. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 initiated a jihad by the Shiite government against the Sunni Kurds. Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, declared that Kurds were not autonomous and had no reason to seek cultural rights. Such discrimination continues to this day. Kurds in Iran, for instance, are not allowed to receive Kurdish-language education in school—as was the case in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and, until 2004, in Turkey.

In addition to cultural discrimination, Iranian Kurds complain that they do not receive the same services—such as petrol subsidies—as Iranians in other parts of the country, and that the Kurdish provinces, despite being oil-rich, are economically depressed.

Iran's previous president, Mohamed Khatami, attempted to reverse some of this discrimination by including Kurds in the government, authorizing the creation of Kurdish-language chairs at universities, and easing restrictions against Kurdish political activity. But these small steps have been reversed with the election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad last year.

The Left harbors a fascinating hatred for the Shi'ites, though they seem not to even understand its sources.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 3, 2006 8:34 AM

Good to see we're starting the Kurd insurgency against Iran. Now if we just expand it to include the Shia Arabs in the South. After all, turn around is fair play.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2006 12:43 PM

GREATER KURDISTAN: Throw in Northern Syria and South Eastern Turkey and you've really got something.

Published: 03 April 2006
A 20-year-old man was killed and at least seven others injured as protesters in Turkey's Kurdish-populated south-east refused to stay off the streets during the sixth consecutive day of anti-state rioting.

It is the worst urban violence in the region in a decade, reviving bitter memories of the Kurdish rebellion that has claimed more than 37,000 lives.

Posted by: Genecis at April 3, 2006 1:41 PM