News / Middle East

Iranian Kurds Fight Discrimination, Hope for Change

Iranian Kurds Fight Discrimination - Hope for Changei
|| 0:00:00
X
Meredith Buel, Ali Javanmardi
November 19, 2012 2:50 PM
The Kurdish minority in Iran has for decades suffered discrimination and many Kurds have been thrown into prison and executed for seeking equal rights from the Islamic government in Tehran. VOA's Meredith Buel and Ali Javanmardi report that 'Arab Spring' uprisings in the Middle East and threats of military attacks to stop Iran’s nuclear program, however, have given some Iranian Kurds hope for change.

Iranian Kurds Fight Discrimination - Hope for Change

Meredith BuelAli Javanmardi
The Kurdish minority in Iran has for decades suffered discrimination and many Kurds have been thrown into prison and executed for seeking equal rights from the Islamic government in Tehran. 
 
But "Arab Spring" uprisings in the Middle East and threats of military attacks to stop Iran’s nuclear program have given some Iranian Kurds hope for change.
 
An estimated 12 million Kurds live in Iran, mostly in the northwest of the country bordering Kurdish-majority areas of Iraq and Turkey.
 
Tehran says it has generally improved living conditions and education for Iran's Kurds and they are integrated into the political process. 
 
But Kurds say they have lesser rights and a rebel group, known as PJAK - the Free Life Party of Kurdistan - has been waging an insurgency based in the Qandil Mountains. 
 
Bloody history
 
Kurdish Areas of Turkey, Iran, Syria and IraqKurdish Areas of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq
x
Kurdish Areas of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq
Kurdish Areas of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq
Shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared war against the Kurds, who are mostly Sunni Muslims in a predominantly Shi'ite country.
 
Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga were crushed by Iran's military.  Thousands of Kurdish villages were flattened. Many Kurds were killed. 
 
“After they took over the cities, they started executing, mass executions in the Kurdish area," said Kamran Balnour, a Kurd who fled Iran during the repression.  "I remember in my small town, which is Mahabad, we had 59 people executed in one day.”
 
Balnour, 43, was arrested by Iranian authorities while in college some two decades ago. He says he was repeatedly tortured and he fled the country.
 
“Sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up and start screaming," Balnour said in an interview from suburban Washington, where he now lives. "I still think that I was in prison and I have these bad dreams and all that.”
 
New hopes
 
Kurdish Percentage of Population
 
Iran 10%
Iraq 15 to 20 %
Syria As much as 9.7%
Turkey 18%
 
Source: CIA World Factbook
 
Iran's Kurds are keenly watching the fallout from the Arab Spring in neighboring countries where Kurds also live. They see how the uprising against Syria's government has given Syrian Kurds a new autonomy to control their own affairs.
 
Some Iranian Kurds are hoping for a military confrontation between Tehran and the West over the nation’s nuclear program. They hope an attack would lead to an uprising against Iran’s Islamic government and to better treatment of Kurds from a new government.
 
“I would think a majority of Kurds would be more interested in having some sort of a military intervention to resolve this situation,” said Bruce Freeman, a Kurdish activist in the U.S. who fled Iran and Americanized his name.
 
Until that happens, the Kurdish guerrilla group PJAK vows to continue fighting government forces. 
 
PJAK has been declared a terrorist organization by Iran and the United States but has assumed the role of armed guardian of the Kurds in Iran.
 
“We believe the legitimate rights of the Kurds have been trampled on by Iran’s central government, that their ethnic identity has been destroyed and they have been subjected to discrimination by Tehran," Rezan Javid, a PJAK commander, said in a recent interview with VOA.
 
"We have been engaged in this fight in order to bring about freedom and social justice for the entire Iranian nation,” he said.
 
Border skirmishes
 
Relying on bases across the border in Iraq, the rebels have frequently clashed with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
 
Recent amateur video, which cannot be verified, appears to show Kurdish rebels attacking an Iranian military convoy.
 
Last year, Iran rejected a cease-fire offer from PJAK.
 
“We demand peace among all peoples," Javid said. "We have never demanded secession from Iran or called for an autonomous Kurdish government.
 
"All we want is for the Kurds to be recognized as equal and enjoy the same rights as other Iranian citizens,” he said.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: a from: IRAN
November 22, 2012 5:05 PM
Don't fuss over where people come from; what we should care about is how we're now behaving. Having a different originality, language or even been discriminated against doesn't entitle us to break peace and stability in some countries which will do nothing rather than providing third parties' benefits.


by: Khmerkrom from: Kampucheakrom
November 22, 2012 12:30 AM
Long life the Kurd, down to suppressive Iranian government of extremist. Buddha bless you all


by: Astam from: Iran
November 20, 2012 11:43 AM
i don't understand why Iranians are allied with Arabs..?? why...?? Iranians have so much hate for Arabs that it is difficult to put into words... Arabs are loathsome to us... why do you confuse us with Arabs??

In Response

by: sanea from: Erbil
November 22, 2012 6:00 AM
Astam,,, You are a racist,, first because u said these , second because what Iranian government do against Kurdish ppl. No kurdish or turkish school in Iran despite existing of many of these two ppl in Iran,, and many many other rights for these two ethnicity group in Iran,


by: John Trand from: England
November 20, 2012 8:14 AM
Recent studies in so-called Kurdish languages shows that there has never been a Kurdish nation in the area or on earth. The identity of a nation lies in the first person pronun which Kurds use as "Ez or Min". They are both Turkic. The so-called Kurd is a variation of the word "Turk" in the area. The so-called Kurds are a blend of Turks and Sogds that lived together and affected one another for more than a thousand year in Central Asia.

In Response

by: Aso from: Oslo
December 01, 2012 6:44 AM
Hey dude,
First of all, I'm sure you're either Turkish or Iranian and you've chosen the name "John" because you are ashamed of revealing your identity. Second, whenever you want to mention studies as support for your so-called comments, you are expected to refer to them, which studies?
Third, you said both Ez or Min are Turkish, then why don't you use them in your own language? if you are Turkish this doesn't make me surprised because you have a long tradition of stealing the culture of other nations for example you claim that "Rumi" has been Turkish but ironically all his works are in Persian.
The era of you calling Kurds the Mountain Turks is over, whether you and other fascists like you like it or not, the Kurds will not accept your hegemony anymore, it is up to you to choose peace or bloodshed.

In Response

by: lol from: Studies
November 22, 2012 8:53 PM
studies
lol


"John Trand" from England
lol

You are making me laugh out loud, buddy
lol

In Response

by: sanea from: Erbil
November 22, 2012 6:04 AM
Dear John, Kindly go and study some history book about kurds then do Bla bla,,, if you hate reading book you can look in wikipedia and see who is kurdish ppl?? Kurds are originally belong to the area they living,,, Please if you don't know any thing keep silent

In Response

by: Gozmol from: Turkey/Germany
November 20, 2012 1:32 PM
as a Turk, i take offense to that!!! Turks are Turks and Kurds are a mutation of Arabs... we hate Arabs!!! Arabs to us are loathsome despicable dogs


by: m from: iran
November 20, 2012 6:40 AM
you dont know anything aboat iran and Kurdish people and their history.Kurdish people are old irainian.

In Response

by: sanea from: Erbil
November 22, 2012 6:06 AM
hey bro, you are totally wrong,, the Maddian Government was kurdish ppl when you Iranian ppl was living in a area which now known as Fars ( shiraz)... try to understand that Kurd is kurdddd, no fars, no turk and no arab,,,, kurd is kurd....

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid