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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid