Why Iranian Kurdish party is stepping up fight against Tehran

ERBIL, Iraq — The leader of a major Iranian Kurdish party has vowed to gradually step up his group’s fight against Iranian security forces, as the group ends almost two decades of a unilateral cease-fire with Iran after a series of recent clashes between the two sides.

The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan’s (PDKI) armed wing, known as the peshmerga, have clashed with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on at least five occasions over recent weeks, resulting in dozens of casualties on both the IRGC and PDKI sides — although both parties dispute the counts.

“Our forces are now moving around [in Iranian Kurdistan], making contacts with people, and are ready to act in self-defense only if attacked. But in future stages, our forces will move to the attack mode. This is a process that will gradually unfold,” Mustafa Hijri, the PDKI secretary-general, told Al-Monitor. He said his forces have not yet initiated attacking IRGC units and only engaged in self-defense.

Hijri noted that his party’s increased activity and military presence in the Kurdish areas of Iran is justified as the Iranian government “has stepped up pressure on Kurds and has not left space for meaningful civic or political work [inside the country].”

He added that his party’s attacks are also meant to “show the world that Iran is not what it claims to be and that it is vulnerable.”

The first clashes occurred in Oshnavieh, which, according to Hijri, marked the first major confrontation between Iran and the PDKI since the mid-1990s when the PDKI peshmerga withdrew from the Qandil Mountains on the Iran-Iraq border to a camp in the town of Koya in Iraqi Kurdistan, according to a PDKI statement June 17.

The skirmishes between Kurdish and Iranian forces signify the PDKI’s intention to re-establish its military presence inside the Kurdish areas of Iran, which span the western provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan and Elam. Since March 2015, the PDKI has dispatched several teams of its fighters and political cadets into Iranian Kurdistan.

The PDKI has a tense history of relations with Iran. Its two former leaders, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou (killed in 1989) and Sadegh Sharafkandi (killed in 1992), are believed to have been assassinated by Iranian government operatives in Europe.

Several Kurdish activists have been hanged by the Iranian government in recent years for alleged affiliations with Kurdish opposition parties. Iran’s constitution bans the followers of Sunni Islam from attaining higher offices such as president. The majority of Iran’s ethnic minorities such as the Kurds, Baloch and Turkmens are Sunni, while Kurdish areas are economically among the most underdeveloped in the country, with their governors often chosen from other parts of the country.

Regardless of what objectives the PDKI pursues, its armed struggle might in practice lead to further militarization of the Kurdish areas, stricter restrictions by the government on the population there and further deterioration of economic conditions.

Responding to the rising level of PDKI activity and seeking to increase pressure on Iraqi Kurdish government and factions to curb the PDKI, Iran’s artillery shelled the border areas of Sidakan and Haji Omaran inside Iraqi Kurdistan on June 26, injuring at least five people. As a result, 10 local villages have been abandoned by their residents fearing future attacks by Iran.

Seeking to dissuade further PDKI activity, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour, the commander of IRGC land forces, has threatened to launch attacks on the PDKI bases in Iraqi Kurdistan if the Kurdish government fails to contain Iranian Kurdish forces, according to Fars news agency.

In July 1996, exploiting the civil war among Iraqi Kurdish parties and its close relationship with the Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Iran attacked the PDKI bases in Koya. Hijri said his party takes Iran’s threats seriously and is prepared to deal with it.

Following the clashes in Oshnavieh, Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council and former IRGC commander, accused Saudi Arabia of supporting PDKI activities in Iran. But the Saudi Consulate in Erbil has denied the accusations as “baseless and untrue.”

The resurging conflict between the PDKI and Iran has raised questions over how this might affect Iraqi Kurdistan that hosts the Kurdish parties opposed to the neighboring Islamic Republic of Iran.

Realizing the liability that rising PDKI activity inside Iran poses to its interests, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) put out a statement expressing its concerns over the attacks by both Iran and Turkey, which has regularly bombed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) positions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

“We object the use of Kurdistan Region’s territories and borders by some of the Iranian opposition groups and the [PKK] to launch attacks against the neighboring countries,” the KRG statement released June 26 read.

Hijri said that Iranian attacks on Iraqi Kurdish border areas are unjustified, adding that PDKI fighters have not attacked Iranian forces from Iraqi Kurdistan’s border areas and have been operating deep inside Iran’s territory.

“We are thinking, when the right time comes, to gradually move our forces out of here [Iraqi Kurdistan] so that Iran will not have any excuses to create problems for the [KRG],” Hijri said.

The PDKI is one of a number of Iranian Kurdish opposition parties currently based in Iraqi Kurdistan. But with the exception of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), which is affiliated with Turkey’s PKK, the PDKI and other groups have silenced their guns for the past couple of decades largely out of consideration for Iraqi Kurdistan’s relations with neighboring Iran.

As the PDKI has decided to step up its presence in Iran, many have been wondering about the reasons behind the decision and its timing.

“It’s largely due to internal Kurdish dynamics. There is a competition between the PDKI and other groups such as the PJAK,” Mamand Roja, a Kurdish researcher and analyst, told Al-Monitor. Roja added that the group also seeks to energize its base and draw international attention to its cause by stepping up its fight against Iran.

In recent years, the PJAK has clashed with Iranian forces on a number of occasions, most recently on June 13, trying to establish itself as the Kurdish party challenging Iran’s security forces. Now, the PDKI seeks to regain its traditionally dominant position in the Iranian Kurdish scene. But given several strong competitors and internal splits within the party in recent years, it’s not clear if the PDKI can retain its former strength.

Kurdish movements across the region have traditionally relied on support from a regional country against the government they have fought. During the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s, Iran’s Kurdish opposition was backed by Saddam Hussein’s government and Iraq’s Kurdish parties were supported by Iran. The overthrow of Saddam and the domination of Baghdad by groups friendly to Iran in recent years have dealt a blow to the PDKI’s position, according to Roja. In addition, the Islamic Republic appears to be currently at the peak of its strength since its founding in 1979. Yet some believe the current regional turmoil might present an opening for the PDKI.

“The regional rivalries between Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have created an opportunity through which Iranian Kurdistan can become part of the bigger regional picture,” Roja said.

Source: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/07/iran-kurdish-party-attack-irgc.html#ixzz4E49uKXB3

Posted in News, PDKI's | Leave a comment

At Last, Change of Course, in Midst of Setback

This commentary first appeared in Iran Roundtable and was prepared to add some more insight to a short interview with BBC World Service Newsday Program.  Below is also the interview:

The first death in action of an American soldier in Iraq since 2011 has refocused attention on the role of U.S. troops in a mission which the administration has emphasized from the outset is not a “combat” one.

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler died after being shot an Oct. 22 during a joint U.S.-Kurdish raid on an Islamic State prison, where dozens of prisoners believed to have been facing execution within hours, were freed.

The direct ground engagement with this new enemy was in sharp contrast to this administration’s line where in 2014, President Barack Obama told an audience of US troops that “The American forces who have been deployed to Iraq, do not and will not have a combat mission.”

However in his testimony on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter signalled an apparent shift in U.S. policy toward the use of boots on the ground to combat ISIS.  President Obama had previously said there would be no U.S. ground troops used to fight the Islamic State. Is that a change in policy or tactic?

The administration is struggling to explain its strategy as there appears to be a gap between Obama and his Pentagon chief regarding the potential use of ground troops in combat mission.

The administration, on the one hand, still favours its long held policy of not committing troops “to fighting another ground war” per President’s decree.  However, as the pressures mount on the Obama Administration for lack of action and policy to fight ISIS, with some rightly blaming this administration for its rise, the administration is not only changing tone but action, as well.

The administration is attempting to figure out a middle ground between having regular forces on the ground as US did in Iraq after the 2003 invasion, and the commitment to avoid boots on the ground following troops withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.  The administration is working hard to define this middle-ground policy even if it means re-defining the concept of “combat mission”.

Obviously, the joint raid with the Kurdish forces was a spark of such a middle-ground policy, where we continue to see such operations and raids not only in Iraq but perhaps in Syria, as well.  This was pointed out by Ash Carter, as he referred to it as “direct action on the ground” against ISIS be it in Raqqa or Ramadi, in his testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee.

Remarkably, this administration has finally admitted that the absence of a robust US policy and direct military involvement in areas where US forces were badly needed has not only worsened the situation on the ground and led to many crisis  –  the emergence of ISIS being one of them, but it has also created a power vacuum where other hostile states and elements, such as the Islamic Iran, Russia and Hezbollah, have rightly filled.

If this US administration had not sat idle, and had not ignore its red lines, abandoned its allies and its mission in the region, the Russians would not have come to Assad’s rescue; moreover, Iranian Revolutionary Guards would not had roamed the region as easily as they do now.

If we go back to the early days of this administration, we can track Russian hostilities against strategic US interests to that period where they seized on the new lay-back and lead-from-behind US policy.   Russian air force first launched an all-out attack on Georgian forces.  Then, they provoked widespread unrest in Ukraine, under Obama’s watch, annexing Crimea comfortably.  The Russian President, then stepped up Russia’s military presence in Syria in support of its thuggish leader Bashar al-Assad under the pretext of fighting Islamic State militants while openly and widely attacking US supported anti-Assad forces.

With this gradual change in US policy, unfortunately it took this administration two terms, fours Defence Secretaries, two Secretary of States and many lost wars in strategic regions, such as Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine to realize this policy was headed in the wrong direction.

Talk on Syria

Diplomacy has been this administration’s sole foreign policy tool to solve world’s problems.  However, terrorist threats such as Al-Qaida, ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and threats from rouge states such as Iran and North Korea require a different foreign policy tool that US possesses but this administration has chosen not to utilize.

It has been proven that in many cases diplomacy is less likely to succeed if it lacks any credible military muscle.  Utilizing diplomacy alone to solve the bloody Syrian conflict is a perfect example of such a failed approach.

There have been many talks on the Syrian crisis; however, the stark difference between the previous talks on Syria and this supposedly new round is that the previous ones were held from the position of strength as far as the anti-Assad forces were concerned.  This new round of talk on Syria seems to be from the position of weakness of anti-Assad forces:  The Free Syrian Army and the political opposition are in a state of crisis; the traditional anti-Assad states, mainly Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are losing faith in the traditional US leadership in the region.  The Russians and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are stepping up their efforts to further prop up the Assad regime, while US is gradually abandoning the Syrian opposition.

The world has well-read the American hands, i.e. the Americans often negotiate and make concessions in times of weakness.  Iranians knew that well when they walked out of the nuclear negotiations a decade ago and soon started spinning centrifuges in thousands, only to return to the negotiating table with their hands full.  Similarly in Iraq they forced the Bush administration to sit down and discuss Iraq on the same table when their deadly IEDs were killing hundreds of US servicemen.  Putin is following suit, and I believe the US is left with no options but to join the talks in a position of weakness at least for now, unless something drastically changes, which I doubt will.

Unfortunately, with this policy, the US will eventually concede to the will of the Russians and Iran to keep Assad’s reign in place.  The Saudis and the Turks already know this, and they are trying to mend fences with Bashar Al-Assad through Russia and other Assad allies.

The Elephant in the Room

Today, the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Middle East is US’s elephant in the room.  Thanks to this leave-from-behind policy, there is little room left for US to maneuver in the region.  Iran has asserted itself as the region’s hegemon, and the US further reinforced this supremacy by allowing Iran to have nukes.

Recognizing Iran’s upper hand in this quagmire, the US knew that Iran would be invited to the talks, regardless and the US is currently in no position and has no appetite to reject Iran’s presence.  After all, the two sides engaged in one of the most complicated nuclear talks of our times and it would not be strange for them to sit alongside each other to discuss Syria.

On the contrary,  Iran’s clerical rulers will not view the American invitation to the Syria talks as a gesture on the part of the US, rather as a sign of US weakness in the wake of Iran’s increased support for its allies, Assad, Houthi forces and other destructive forces in the region.  This administration has long abandoned the regime change policy in Iran and the nuke deal sealed the clerical regime’s reign to power in Iran.

The Islamic regime in Iran is quite content with US pulling out of the region and gradually leaving it for the ambitious forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran.  This is the position that Iranian clerical rulers are most content with and if anyone would be smiling at this round of Syrian talks it would be Iran and its proxies  – certainly not the US and its partners.

Posted in Articles, Commentary, Featured in the media, Interviews, News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran hangs another Kurdish political prisoner in August

  • Behrouz Alkhani’s execution order was carried out early Wednesday morning, August 26 in the central prison of Wurme, where he was held.
  • On August 9, Sirwan Nejavi, another Kurdish political prisoner was executed in Tabriz Prison following three years of incommunicado.
  • Since Iranian officials warned of retaliation against heightened Kurdish peshmarga activities, there has been a surge in the execution of Kurdish political prisoners.
  • 700 executions were carried out in Iran only in the first six months of 2015 despite false hopes of improving human rights conditions after Rouhani’s election as president.  
  • Iran is the second most prolific executioner in the world after China, according to Amnesty International’s latest global death penalty report.
28483.jpg

Members of Behrouz’s family and human rights activists gathered outside the prison gates to demand a halt to his execution.

Kurdpa: There are credible reports that Kurdish political prisoner, Behrouz Alkhani was hanged in the central prison of Wurme, East Kurdistan.

Kurdpa has learned that Behrouz Alkhani’s execution order was carried out early Wednesday morning, August 26 in the central prison of Wurme, where he was held.

Human Rights Defence Organization in Kurdistan has confirmed Behourz Alkhani’s hanging, according to his family.

However, Kurdpa’s attempt in contacting Behrouz’s lawyer, brother and other relatives to confirm his death was unsuccessful.

On Tuesday, Mr. Alkhani had telephoned his relatives from prison asking them to visit him for the last time.

Also on Tuesday more than 80 members of his family and human rights activists had gathered outside the prison gates to demand a halt to his execution. Prison guards and suppressive anti-riot forces attacked his relatives and other protesters including women and children.
Behrouz Alkhani’s execution took place even as the regime’s Higher Court had not yet responded to an appeal to his sentence.

Amnesty International released a statement on Tuesday, asking the Iranian authorities to urgently halt Behrouz Alkhani’s execution.

“Carrying out a death sentence while a prisoner is awaiting the outcome of his appeal is a serious violation of both Iranian and international law, and is an affront to justice,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.

“The authorities have already carried out nearly 700 executions in Iran so far this year. Allowing Behrouz Alkhani’s death sentence to be implemented will only leave them with more blood on their hands,” the statement further added.

Behrouz Alkhani, a 30 year-old Kurdish dissident, was arrested on January 27, 2010 in Salmas, East Kurdistan. He spent nearly 19 months under physical and psychological torture in detention centers in Salmas, Khoy and Oroumieh.

In 2011, he was convicted and sentenced to death by a Revolutionary Court in Wurme on charges of “effective collaboration” with a Kurdish political organization and “enmity against God” (moharebeh) for his alleged role in the assassination of the Prosecutor of Khoy, Wurme (West Azerbaijan) province.

He had consistently denied his involvement in the killing of the Prosecutor, and his last appeal to the death sentence was left unanswered.

On August 9, another Kurdish political prisoner was executed in Tabriz Prison following three years of incommunicado. Sirwan Nejavi, from the city of Sardasht, was arrested two years ago in his hometown by the Iranian Intelligence Agents, infamously known as Etelaat.

There are many other Kurdish political prisoners on death row in Iran, awaiting their execution order.

Iran is the second most prolific executioner in the world after China, according to Amnesty International’s latest global death penalty report.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Hazhir B.

Source: http://www.kurdpa.net/english/more/66117

Posted in Articles, Human Rights, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Resurgence of terror and repression following the deal with Iran

  • Four improvised explosives devices (IED), containing more than 25 kilograms of TNT, had been defused at the headquarters of Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan near Sulaimani.
  •  Iranian agents assassinated more than 270 activists belonging to various Kurdish opposition parties inside the Southern Kurdistan Region between 1992-1997.
  • Iran has repeatedly threatened the authorities in the Southern Kurdistan Regional Government to prevent the activities of its Kurdish opposition groups.
  • Kurdish leaders have warned that a nuclear deal with the Iranian regime means a blank check to the regime to further destabilize the region and continue and even broaden repression at home.
  • Iranian regime officials have warned to retaliate against new wave of Iranian Kurdish Peshmarga activities inside Iran and on the border areas.

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan said that four bombs had been defused at its camp near Sulaimani on Sunday and accused Tehran of being behind the potential terrorist attack.

“Komala had already warned that the Iranian regime, after clinching its detrimental nuclear deal with the West, will attack the regime’s opponents in Iran and Kurdistan,” the group said in a statement.

It identified the Iranian regime as its only enemy and called on the international community and authorities in the Kurdistan Region to act against the Iranian regime’s “terrorist attempts in the region.”

Four improvised explosives devices (IED) “contained more than 25 kilograms of TNT,” the statement claimed.

“The camp was evacuated to prevent any possible explosion and five IEDs were detected and defused by the Kurdish security forces,” Salih Sharifi, a Komala leadership member, told Rudaw.

He said the bombs were planted by an Iranian government spy inside the group who had absconded with his family from the Kurdistan Region after placing the bombs at Komala’s Zargwez camp, 20 kilometers southwest of Sulaimani, where the group has been settled since the 1980s.

In a statement,  Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, PDKI condemned these terrorist plots and called on the international community to consider the heightened risk of terrorist attacks against the democratic opposition and Kurdish organizations in particular in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran.

“At the same time we want to remind that before the nuclear deal between world powers and the Islamic Republic of Iran we warned that the Islamic regime will strengthen its terrorist proxies in the [Middle East], which will result in further destabilization of the region, as well as engage in acts of terrorism,” the statement read.

“We call on the international community and the P5+1 [the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany] countries to seriously consider the heightened risk of terrorist attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran against the Kurdish organizations of east [Iranian] Kurdistan based in south [Iraqi] Kurdistan and, to the extent possible, take concrete measures to prevent such attacks,” PDKI said in its statement.

PDKI also called on world powers to consider the fact that “even without nuclear weapons, the regime Islamic Republic of Iran constitutes a grave threat to the international community, the neighboring countries as well as the Iranian population.”

The Iran based Organization for Human Rights in Kurdistan (RMMK) also condemned the planting of bombs and terror operations against the political parties of Iranian Kurdistan.

“The Organization for Human Rights in Kurdistan strongly condemns terror plots and views such plots to be counteractive to the achievement of a peaceful resolution to political and non-political disputes. Furthermore, we strongly condemn the planting of bombs and explosives in and around the bases and headquarters of the Komala as completely unjustified and uncivilized,” the statement read.

Iran’s influence in Iraq is at its highest since the fall of Saddam Hussien in 2003.  It has reached its current peak because of ISIS battlefield successes and the subsequent Iranian deployment to counter them.

In a policy forum on November 14, 2013, Michael Knights and David Pollock warned of Iran’s presence and influence in Kurdistan Region of Iraq where in Suleimanyeh province alone, Iran had 700 safe houses where it conducts its secret business.  David confirms that in his recent visit (2013) he related that anecdote to a very senior KRG official, who said, “well David, that number is even higher today.”

“Iran wants to keep taps on Iranians and Kurds in the KRG in order to prevent what it feels could be a terrorist or subversive or ethnically disruptive movement inside its own borders, and there are many Iranian ex-pats or asylum seekers or dissidents or just economic migrants in the KRG, and most of Iran’s agents in the KRG and all of those safe houses are keeping tap on those people. They do it effectively, they scare people because they are nasty and they secretive and they are pretty effective,” David further added.

Posted in Articles, Commentary, News, Updates | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Acid Attack on Women in Eastern Kurdistan

  • So far, four women have fallen victim to vicious acid attacks by religious zealots and morality plain clothes agents in Kurdistan.
  • Clerics and security officials often publicly call for stricter enforcement measures to restrict inappropriately worn headscarves by women, which often result in mass arrests, harassments and public humiliations. Assailants are the same ‘morality police’ deployed to create fear among people.
  • The wave acid attacks in Iran and Kurdistan coincided with the passage of a new Islamic parliamentary bill that allowed private citizens to enforce morality laws.
  • In the Islamic Republic of Iran, volunteer basij militia operate as the self-appointed guardians of Islamic behaviour with full support of the powerful Revolutionary Guards and Moral Police.
  • Even though those responsible for the attack were later identified, they were not charged or arrested.

Kurdpa: In another incident involving acid attack on women, a Kurdish woman was taken to hospital, seriously injured

Kurdpa has learned that on August 11, a woman bystander from the Kurdish city of Baneh was acid attacked by four unidentified people on Kamarbandi Street in Baneh.

A source aware of the incident identified the victim’s identity as 27-year old Afsaneh Qorbani.

The source also revealed to Kurdpa that the victim was under treatment in Sina Hospital.

On Tuesday July 14, in simultaneous attacks, three women became the targets of vicious acid attacks in the city of Bokan at a busy intersection.

Ali Ismaelnizhad, a political activist living outside of Iran and the brother of one of the acid attack victims in Bokan, told Kurdpa that the assailants were the same ‘morality police’ deployed to create fear among people. He reported that his family has been continuously pressured and threatened by the authorities due to his political activities, orientation and involvement.

The acid attack took place at a busy intersection, and emphasized that only those close to the authorities can carry out such a vicious attack with so many people around and get away with it, said Ali Ismaelnizhad.

Following the acid attacks, a peaceful protest against the attacks was organized, leading to the arrests of six people by plainclothes security forces.

In 2014, a series of acid attacks that took place in the major cities of Isfahan and Tehran sparked horror and outrage. The victims reportedly stated those responsible for the attack were the Basijis and the morality police.

Reports indicated those responsible for the attack were later identified and were not charged or arrested.

In the Islamic Republic of Iran, volunteer basij militia operate as the self-appointed guardians of Islamic behaviour with full support of the powerful Revolutionary Guards and Moral Police. It is inevitable that suspicions for these acid attacks on innocent women fall on such religious vigilante groups.

Clerics and security officials often publicly call for stricter enforcement measures to restrict inappropriately worn headscarves by women, which often result in mass arrests, harassments and public humiliations.

The 2014 attacks in central Iran coincided with the passage of a new parliamentary bill that allowed private citizens to enforce morality laws.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Hazhir B.

Posted in Human Rights, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Human Rights Organizations Condemn the Destruction of Sunni only Place of Worship in Tehran

  • The government of the IRI has been in place for over three decades, but Sunni citizens still have no mosques in Tehran in which to worship.
  • A few days before the attack, Rouhani stated that “Sunni and Shiite are all brothers, we are all equal”!
  • It is estimated that there are around a million of Sunnis in Tehran, however they have not been allowed a mosque in the Iranian capital.
  • Tehran is the only capital of Islamic country where there is no Sunni mosque.
  • No Sunni in Iran is allowed to run for major posts such as presidency and hold ministerial posts in Iran.

Kurdpa: Eleven human rights organizations released a statement condemning the destruction of a Sunni place of worship in Tehran.

sunni-place-of-worshipKurdpa has learned that eleven human rights organizations have condemned the destruction of a Sunni place of worship in Tehran in a statement and called on international organizations and Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI), to react to these actions by the Iranian government.

“The government of the IRI has been in place for over three decades, but Sunni citizens still have no mosques in Tehran in which to worship, the statement said.

The eleven human rights organizations also “call on Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to these actions by Iranian government and for Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion to express their official objections to these violations of the fundamental rights of the Sunni population in Iran.”

Below is the exact text of the statement:

Although Article 12 of the Constitution of the IRI states that, “Other Islamic schools, including the Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali, and Zaydi, are to be accorded full respect”, policies discriminating against Sunnis have increased so much in recent years that the rented houses which they use as “places of worship” are being closed or destroyed by extrajudicial means.

In one significant example, on the morning of Wednesday, July 29, 2015, municipal authorities of the city of Tehran backed by the police and other security forces destroyed a large part of a Sunni place of worship in the Punak neighborhood of Tehran.

Several points merit attention in this regard:

1. It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of Sunnis in Tehran, however they have not been allowed a mosque in the Iranian capital. Tehran is the only capital of Islamic country where there is no Sunni mosque.

2. Because of the tremendous and increasing pressure on the Sunni population of Tehran, other Sunni places of worship are also not official. They are in fact rented houses being used as places of worship.
3. The Sunnis’ central place of worship in Tehran was the one in the Punak neighborhood, which was being used as a place for daily, Friday and Eid prayers by Sunnis. It has already been closed several times.
4. On January 17, 2015, the municipal and police forces closed this place of worship. A week before, on January 10, during the “Islamic Unity Conference” in Tehran the security forces prevented Molavi Abdolhamid Ismailzehi, the Sunni Friday prayer leader of Zahedan, from holding prayers in this house.
5. After sustained activism by Sunni imams the house was reopened after some time but worshippers were nonetheless prevented from holding Friday and Eid prayers at the location.
6. Notwithstanding these restrictions, some parts of the ground floor and the cellar which was used as the rest room were destroyed last month.

The restrictions on daily, Friday and Eid prayers and destruction of places of worship and the limitations on freedom of worship violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which Iran is a party, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Iran is a signatory. As the destruction of the Punak place of worship and other occurrences highlighted above constitute a clear violation of the freedoms of thought, conscience, and religion, the organizations below condemn these actions and demand that the opening of judicial investigations into the above, and likewise demand that the perpetrators be held accountable. This act was illegal under domestic law, and in contravention of Article 12 of the Constitution of IRI itself. We call on Iranian authorities to reconstruct the house and take the required steps to ensure that the right to worship of the Sunni population of Tehran is respected and that the authorities put an end to all discrimination against Sunni citizens of the IRI.

We also call on Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran to respond to these actions by Iranian government and for Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion to express their official objections to these violations of the fundamental rights of the Sunni population in Iran.

United for Iran
Human Rights and Democracy Association for Iran – Hamburg
Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation
The Association to Defend Human Rights and Democracy – Sweden
Iran Human Rights
Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan
Südwind
The Baloch Activists Campaign
Human Rights Committee of the Association of Iranian Researchers
Human Rights Activists in Iran
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Hazhir B.

Posted in Human Rights, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Rouhani visits East Kurdistan’s Sina city empty-handed

  • At an empty football stadium, in a public speech, Rouhani said Iran had strong ethnic equality!
  • It was Rouhani’s own government who claimed it could find no qualified Kurdish candidates for any of the important posts, including the governorship.
  • Rouhani also claimed that “Sunni and Shiite are all brothers, we are all equal”!
  • A few days following Rouhani’s speech about ‘Sunni-Shiite brotherhood’ in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the only Sunni prayer house was ransacked in Tehran under the municipality order.
  • As one of the states accused of sponsoring terrorism in the region and across the globe, Rouhani also said Iran works to eradicate terrorism from the region!
  • Ali Younesi, Rouhani’s advisor on ethnic issues, had warned Rouhani not to visit Kurdistan empty handed.

Kurdpa: As part of his provincial tours, Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani arrived in Sina (Sanandaj in Persian), the capital city of one of the four Kurdish provinces in Iran Sunday morning.

“Choosing Kurdistan province as the first place to visit right after the nuclear deal with the West shows the importance of Kurdistan and its people during the Islamic Revolution and their role in protecting Iran”, Rouhani told the press upon his arrival at Sina airport.

During a public speech later at a football stadium Rouhani said Iran that had strong ethnic equality. He further added that the Iranian government views Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis and Persians equally, irrespective of their religious orientations.

Non-Persians in Iran have long complained that Kurdish officials are not given local posts, including a governor role. It was Rouhani’s own government who claimed it could find no qualified Kurdish candidates for any of the important posts, including the governorship.

As the majority of Iran’s Kurds are Sunni, Rouhani also claimed that “Sunni and Shiite are all brothers, we are all equal”.

A few days following Rouhani’s speech about ‘Sunni-Shiite brotherhood’ in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the only Sunni prayer house was ransacked in Tehran under the municipality order. According to eye-witnesses, more than 500 plainclothes attacked the building, chanting Shiite slogans.

Sunni Muslims in Tehran, whose number are well above a million, are not allowed to have a Sunni mosque in the capital. On the other hand, Shiite mosques are widely built in Sunni areas.

As one of the states accused of sponsoring terrorism in the region and across the globe, Rouhani also said Iran works to eradicate terrorism from the region. He added that Iran not only cares about Kurds within its own borders but also Kurds in the neighbouring regions.

“Iran protects Erbil and Baghdad the same as it protects Iranian Kurdistan”, he said. “Without Iran’s help Erbil and Baghdad would be in the hands of terrorist groups right now. The way we protect Sanandaj we also protect Sulaimani and Duhok.”
Masoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) refuted Rouhani’s claims.
“In this war the Kurdistan Regional has endured substantial financial and human loss. The Peshmarga forces have defended the land and people of Kurdistan with their blood, and emerged victorious over terrorists”, read the KDP editorial on their official website.

During his visit to Sina, Rouhani promised the Kurds that they would be allowed to have Kurdish language courses at state universities.

Such broken promises date back to the late 1990s when the first so-called reformist President was elected.

Political activists were also quick to criticize Rouhani on his visit.

Hasel Daseh, a Kurdish deputy in the sixth Majlis stated in his Facebook post that Ali Younesi, Rouhani’s advisor on ethnic issues, had warned the President not to visit Kurdistan empty handed.
“If Rouhani has any expedient, aside from a significant shake-ups in the Kurdish provinces, he would deliver on his promises at any cost; otherwise, the drop for his support would be over 90 per cent”, Daseh stated.

Kurds in Iran complain that they have seen no improvement in their community’s situation since Rouhani became President two years ago.

“The only change is that Iran is now more aware that Kurds sympathize with and relate to other Kurds across the border”, wrote Ava Homa, a Kurdish writer based in Los Angles.

Kurds in Iran were very instrumental in the revolution that brought down the monarchy, only to be crushed by the new Islamic government.

Kurdish political parties were forced into exile, leaving little room for political activities for Kurds and other non-Persian groups.

With over 12 million Kurds are in Iran, no significant government posts are given to Kurds. Their language is banned in schools and local security and administrative officials are appointed by and from outside of the Kurdish areas.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Sharmin Hassaniani.

Source: http://www.kurdpa.net/english/more/65962

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Landmines in Kurdistan still take Innocent Lives

  • There are more than 20 million left-over mines in the provinces of Ilam, Kurdistan, Kirmashan, Wurme and Ahwaz.
  • more than 2,200 hectares of land in Eastern Kurdistan are laid with deadly landmines by the Iranian government.
  • Iran is the second-most mine-polluted country in the world.
  • on average three people die in Iran on daily basis from mine explosions.
  • Iran has refused to join the call made in Ottawa to ban landmines.

Kurdpa: The left-over landmines from the Iran-Iraq war still haunt residents of Eastern Kurdistan where much of the 8-year war took place.

Kurdpa has learned that a landmine explosion on August 3 around Langrez village in Sawlava region killed 13-year-old Behzad Ebrahimi and seriously injured 12-year-old Farshad Yaghoubi.

Ebrahimi’s condition is very critical, eye-witnesses have confirmed. The victims are believed to be residents of Besaran village, in the suburbs of Mariwan.

According to the reports, the explosion took place when the two kids were playing with a left-over landmine while herding livestock around an abandoned military post.

There are more than 20 million left-over mines in the provinces of Ilam, Kurdistan, Kirmashan, Wurme and Ahwaz; furthermore, more than 2,200 hectares of land in Eastern Kurdistan are laid with deadly landmines by the Iranian government.

Iran is the second-most mine-polluted country in the world. According to studies, on average three people die in Iran on daily basis from mine explosions. This number is much higher in the Kurdish areas as most of the landmines are in the four Kurdish provinces.

Iran has refused to join the call made in Ottawa to ban landmines. In criticizing the Ottawa Convention on banning landmines, Iran’s government has stated that the agreement focuses mainly on humanitarian concerns and overlooks military concerns regarding border protection.

Non-state actors such as the main Kurdish armed exiled opposition groups have signed the Ottawa Landmines Treaty to ban the use of landmines.

However Tehran insists that “Due to the difficulties of monitoring sensitive extensive areas by established and permanent guarding posts of effective warning systems, landmines continue to be the effective means [for countries like Iran] to ensure the minimum security requirements of their borders”.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Sharmin Hassaniani.

Source: http://www.kurdpa.net/english/more/65960

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

While Iran spends on nukes, people complain of lack of medical resources

Kurdpa: Recently the medical facilities in the city of Sardasht in Wurme (Wast Azarbijan) Province have been experiencing shortages in medical supplies, especially for pregnant woman.

Patients have turned to nearby cities for treatment as hospital officials in their hometown have refused admission.

According to the relatives of the affected patients, who spoke to Kurdpa on the conditions of anonymity, claim that patients who are admitted are neglected or treated irresponsibly by hospital staff.

Such medical supply shortages have resulted in the deaths of several patients in the city.

Recently 35-year-old Ismat, a pregnant woman, lost her life in the city’s hospital. She died while the fetus was deceased in her womb.

Residents have long complained of shortages in medical services and supplies.

“The hospital in Sardasht does not honor our medical insurance card, forcing us to pay high prices for medical treatment and medications”, said a resident.

Many Kurdish cities with large populations lack proper medical facilities and equipment, forcing patients to go undergo long trips to cities outside Kurdish regions to receive medical treatments.

Sluggish paramedic and emergency responses in Iran in general, and in the Kurdish areas in particular, have resulted in high number of deaths that could have been prevented.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Sharmin Hassaniani.

 

Source: http://www.kurdpa.net/english/more/65958

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Amnesty: 700 Executions in Iran in Just Six Months

Kurdpa: It is believed the Iranian authorities have executed about 700 people in six months, according to Amnesty International.

Iran is believed to have executed 694 people between January 1 and July 15, 2015, said Amnesty International, resulting in an unprecedented spike in executions in the country.

This number is equivalent to executing more than three people per day. At this shocking pace, Iran is set to surpass the total number of executions in the country recorded by Amnesty International last year.

“Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year paints a sinister picture of the machinery of the state carrying out premeditated, judicially-sanctioned killings on a mass scale,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“If Iran’s authorities maintain this horrifying execution rate we are likely to see more than 1,000 state-sanctioned deaths by the year’s end”, he further added.

According to figures available to Kurdpa, 39 Kurds in Iran are believed to have been executed during that period of time.

Aside from these 39 executions, four Kurdish political prisoners have also received death sentences and currently await their executions.

“Among those executed in Iran are also members of ethnic and religious minorities convicted of ‘enmity against God’ and ‘corruption on earth’, including Kurdish political prisoners and Sunni Muslims”, read a new report by Amnesty International.

Based on information released by human rights organizations, several thousand people are believed to be on death row in Iran. According to Iranian authorities, 80% of those awaiting execution are convicted of drug-related offences.

“It is especially harrowing that there is no end in sight for this theatre of cruelty with Iran’s gallows awaiting thousands more death row prisoners”, said Boumedouha.

“Prisoners in Iran are often left languishing on death row, wondering each day if it will be their last. In many cases they are notified of their execution only a few hours beforehand and in some cases, families learn about the fate of their loved ones days, if not weeks, later”, concluded the report by Amnesty International.

In 2014, official sources confirmed 289 executions, however according to Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, the figure stood at 753 for 2015.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Sharmin Hassaniani.

Source: http://www.kurdpa.net/english/more/65896 

Posted in Human Rights, News | Leave a comment

June 12, World Day Against Child Labour: Child Labor in Iran, Report

This report was originally published in May 31, 2014 about the state of Child Labor in Iran.  This is a snapshot of the state of child labor in Iran; however, the situation of children in the Kurdish areas of Iran and other deprived areas of Iran are much worse.

The same goes to the situation of children in other parts of Kurdistan in Turkey, Iraq and Syria.  Given the humanitarian crisis in Syria and Iraq, millions of children are displaced with no schools and basic necessaries.  Most of them even face harshest mistreatments treatments, emotionally, physically and sexually.  No doubt, this will have dire impact on the next generation and the generations to come.

The 2015 Theme for June 12, World Day Against Child Labour is “NO To Child Labour-YES To Quality Education”.

2015The International Labour Organization (ILO) launched the World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to focus attention on the global extent of child labour and the action and efforts needed to eliminate it. Each year on 12 June, the World Day brings together governments, employers and workers organizations, civil society, as well as millions of people from around the world to highlight the plight of child labourers and what can be done to help them.

Around the world, large numbers of children are engaged in paid or unpaid domestic work in the home of a third party or employer. These children can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Their work is often hidden from the public eye, they may be isolated, and they may be working far away from their family home. Stories of the abuse of children in domestic work are all too common.

World Day 2015 calls for:

Free, compulsory and quality education for all children at least to the minimum age for admission to employment and action to reach those presently in child labour;
New efforts to ensure that national policies on child labour and education are consistent and effective;
Policies that ensure access to quality education and investment in the teaching profession.

IRAN: Focus on child labour

IRIN

Tehran, 31 May 2004 (IRIN) – Every day, seven days a week, Hamid stands in the middle of four lanes of unrelenting, heaving Tehran traffic, waiting for the lights to go red. He then weaves his way through the fumes and noise, tapping on the sides of cars. If he is lucky, a driver will lean out of his window and pluck from his hand a small sheet of paper – a poem written by the great Persian poet Hafez – in return for the equivalent of 15 US cents.

The lights will go green and Hamid will then have to carefully negotiate his way back to his spot, dodging the roar and rush of cars around him. If he is lucky, he won’t get hit. Dwarfed by the cars, a thick smog of fumes fills his tiny lungs as he waits for the next red light. Hamid is five years old.

Official government figures estimate that there are about 20,000 street children in the country, but NGOs say there are at least 35,000 in the capital Tehran alone. According to an article published in an Iranian daily four years ago, 100 to 150 street kids die each month from malnutrition and dangerous working conditions.

EXTENT OF CHILD LABOUR

child_labour1Iran has not ratified international conventions defining a minimum age for work, but it has set its own rules to prevent child labour. A child in Iran cannot legally work under the age of 15. However, there is a loophole that is open to exploitation.

“There is one major problem to this law: domestic work is excluded, which means many children are employed at home or in domestic workshops without any legal prosecutions,” Mahsa Kayyal, head of the child rights committee of the human rights group ODVV, told IRIN.

Non-governmental organisations say that Iranian law needs to change in order to protect the rights of working children, and that there needs to be a clear legal definition for street children and child labour. “Not only is there no definition for street children, but there is no clear age limitation for childhood. There are various definitions of the age of childhood for various issues – marriage, labour, etc – therefore two factors are needed: a unified legal limitation for the age of childhood and a definition of street children,” Kayyal said.

NGO & UN RESPONSE

کودکان-خیابانیA number of NGOs are working on a draft law to lobby government. Among their proposals is the introduction of a law to prevent human trafficking and a law stipulating heavy penalties for those forcing children to beg and deal in drugs, as they have discovered that some street children are victims of organised criminal networks. “There also needs to be a clear definition of sexual abuse which at present mainly covers intercourse and doesn’t cover other sexual abuses,” Kayyam said.

In 2002, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the Interior Ministry’s Bureau of Social Affairs, helped to set up a committee to address the problem of street children with the aim of expanding the number of NGOs working with them. But UNICEF was not happy with the results, saying that few NGOs had the capacity or the experience to work in the field.

UNICEF conducted an evaluation of services for street children three years ago. The research was carried out in eight provinces with government bodies, local councils and NGOs participating. The findings showed that sufficient attention was not paid to the dangers children face when they return home, that contact between families and assistance agencies is weak and that little is done to help families cope with their problems.

55a09d7cb3b152f6e52e6b4555a7015eMost of the street children live in the slums of south Tehran and are sent out to work every morning by their parents. They travel to the affluent suburbs of north Tehran where they shine shoes, clean car windscreens (if they can reach) and sell an assortment of junk and oddities: chewing gum, flowers, fortune poems, nylon socks and cheap shoes.

South Tehran is where most Iranians in the city live, squeezed into decaying houses in narrow, twisting alleys. The hub of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, south Tehran is a densely populated urban sprawl, spilling further and further south in a sea of bazaars and black chadors. This is the district of the poor, working class and religious, where people still flock to Friday prayers. By the time it reaches the south of the city, the sparkling spring water that gushes from the mountains in north Tehran has become murky and viscous, clotted with rubbish.

HAVEN FOR STREET CHILDREN

IMG13013476On a road where turquoise domed mosques are squeezed between half-crumbling buildings and derelict houses, a small shabby building hides behind a high brick wall. From behind big iron gates come the delighted shrieks of children playing. This is one of the only places in Tehran dedicated to looking after street children and giving them an education. Darvazeh-Ghar is a school set up by the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child, a non-governmental organisation set up by the Iranian Nobel laureate and human rights lawyer, Shireen Ebadi.

The school has about 200 children, aged from about five to 17, most of whom are not permanent attendees. Five days a week they are free to come here and feel what it is really like to be a child, although most children only have one day off a week. There are three main groups of street children here – Iranians, Afghans and gypsies, an ethnic minority who have migrated from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“For most of the children here, attendance is seasonal,” Ali Akbar Esmaielpoor, a volunteer teacher at the school, told IRIN. “For instance, our gypsy children rarely attend in the summer as they go back north and help their families on farms, doing things like working in the rice fields.” There are about 80 volunteers at the school, doing everything from teaching to cooking – there are even professional counsellors on site to work with the children.

“Many of their parents are drugs addicts and need their children to earn money to pay for their habits. They can often get violent. There is also a lot of abuse,” Esmaielpoor said.

REFUGEE & MIGRANT CHILDREN

Hamid’s parents allow him to spend a day at the school every month – going to school is his day off. “I like it here, it’s better than being on the road all day,” he says, smiling as his friends tug at his ragged t-shirt. “I don’t really like standing on the street. It’s really boring and in the sun it gets so hot,” he scratches his little pot-belly, distended by malnutrition. Hamid is originally from Afghanistan but was born in Iran. About 70 per cent of the children here are Afghans.

The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that there are about a million Afghan refugees in Iran. Most of their children do not go to school but work instead. “In theory, Afghans are not allowed to work in Iran – at whatever age. Of course, it is happening, but it really leaves us with very little room for manoeuvre as far as negotiating with government is concerned,” Marie-Helene Verney, UNHCR public information officer, told IRIN.

khabar.90.3.22g_0Many of the children at Darvazeh-Ghar are not refugees, but, like Hamid, are illegal immigrants, whose parents were economic migrants and work here illegally, mostly as badly paid construction workers. Their children, as illegal citizens, do not have the right to an education and many are sent out to work at an early age to help supplement the family’s paltry income.

For these children – refugees and illegal immigrants alike – there is little that international organisations like the United Nations can do. “As far as refugee children are concerned, it is the responsibility of the host country to ensure that refugee children have access to education in the same way as all children in the country,” Verney told IRIN.

“Iran’s record over the past 20 years has been very good, but it is more and more the case that parents are asked to pay for their children’s education. UNHCR has met some of these costs, but this will stop as of June 2004. UNHCR’s budget in Iran is being cut, and the focus of the programme is on voluntary repatriation, which explains the cuts. Some Afghan refugees also prefer to send their children to Afghan schools, although these are tolerated rather than legal in Iran,” she added.

LIMITS OF THE SCHOOL

For most of the children at Darvazeh-Ghar, their favourite class is storytelling. Children start to gather around the staff room waiting for the man they call Uncle Khayat. With his smiling eyes and white moustache it is easy to see why he is so popular. A member of the Society of Writers, Ali Selayahti Khayat teaches the children to express themselves through writing stories.

When 16-year old Shireen first came here she could not read or write. Now she is Uncle Khayat’s star pupil, reciting poetry off by heart. “I’m only allowed to come here once a week because I have eight brothers and sisters, and my father died a few years ago. I’m the oldest so I have to work and help my mother look after the kids,” she told IRIN.

But Shireen has just been told by her mother that as of next week she can no longer come here as she must now work full-time. There is little the teachers at Darvazeh-Ghar can do to persuade parents to allow their children to attend.

“My duty is to educate them but I can’t change their family lives and this is my biggest problem – the gulf between school and home life,” headmaster Kameran Farivar told IRIN. But teaching at the school is not a one-way process. All the teachers here say contact with the children has enriched their lives. “They have taught me so much,” Farivar said. “These children have shown me God.”

Posted in Human Rights, News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Iranian Canadians Rally Against the Celebration of Khomeini in Richmond Hill, Ontario

Kurdpa: Hundreds rallied together against the 26th anniversary celebration of the brutal dictator, Mousavi Khomeini, the founder of Islamic Republic of Iran.

On May 31, the Muslim community in Richmond Hill held a memorial at the Islamic Society of York Region to commemorate the 26th anniversary of the death of Iran’s Islamic state founder, Ayatollah Khomeini, “An Awakening Against Global Injustice”.

In opposition to this event, hundreds of members of the Iranian and Kurdish community, from the Greater Toronto Area, as well as, non-Iranians rallied together against the celebration of the brutal dictator that was directly responsible for heinous crimes against humanity inside Iran.

Members of the Provincial Parliament of Ontario (MPP), the media and human rights activist gathered in support of the rally.

A large crowd of Iranians, from various ethnicities and religious backgrounds, lined the street leading to the gates of the Islamic Society of York Region, waving flags, chanting slogans and actively protesting against the memorial taking place inside the centre. There was also a police presence on the busy street, controlling the lively crowd.

Among those who made formal remarks, in strong support of the rally, were: Richmond Hill MPP Dr. Reza Moridi; Oak-Ridges-Markham MPP Dr. Helena Jaczek; Thornhill MPP Gila Martow; and Newmarket-Aurora MPP Chris Ballard.

In addition, speeches were made by York University Associate Director, Dr. Farrokh Zandi, Kaveh Shahrooz; Toronto Sun Culmnist, Tarek Fatah; and Chief Executive Officer of the B’Nai Brith Canada, Michael Mostyn, in opposition to the commemoration of Khomeini.

“Today, my fellow Canadians, we have gathered here to raise our voices against those people, on the other side of this street, who are praising and celebrating the life of a man who murdered hundreds of thousands of people in our homeland of Iran”, said MPP Moridi. “Shame on those people who are celebrating a murderer! Shame on those people who call themselves Canadians but they don’t know Canadian values!”

“Those people are celebrating the banning and murdering of the Jews, the Baha’is, the Christians, and the Sunnis. They are celebrating a man who killed many Kurds, many Turkomans, many Turks in my homeland, Iran!” MPP Moridi went on.

During the span of his political career, as the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Khomeini was responsible for the deaths of many thousands of people in Iran.

During the Iran-Iraq war, which took place for eight years, Khomeini was a driving force behind the continuation of the war between the two nations, causing the unnecessary deaths of countless Iranians.

Further, he ordered the torture and assassination of thousands of political activists that opposed and criticized his views, both inside and outside of the Iranian borders.

Khomeini’s corrupt government dismissed the rights of women, as well as, national and religious groups, such as Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Baloch, among many others.

“Ayatollah Khomeini is dead but Ayatollah Khomeini is alive, and if you do not understand that, you will suffer tremendously. For heaven’s sake, this is not about Iran, this is about Canada! This is about Western civilization, this is about the equality of men and women!” said Fatah, about the followers of Khomeini and other wrongdoers of the Islamic faith.

Over 90 members of the Iranian Canadian community, from all walks of life, signed a letter that was sent to the office of the Prime Minister of Canada, in outrage over the 26th anniversary of Khomeini’s life being celebrated in Richmond Hill.

Iranian Kurdish political parties in Canada also released a joint statement condemning the event and its organizers and called on their members and supporters to rally against it.

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Sharmin Hassaniani.

 

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Outrage grows against Islamic celebration of Khomeini in Richmond Hill

York politicians urge federal government to act

 

Richmond Hill Liberal
By Kim Zarzour

With boos and shouts of “shame”, more than 700 protesters marched outside the Islamic Society of York Region in Richmond Hill Sunday calling upon the Canadian government to denounce the society’s celebration of Ayatollah Khomeini and to investigate how the controversial event was funded.

“Today’s heinous gathering is a celebration of execution, it’s a celebration of rape, it’s a celebration of unjust imprisonment, it’s a celebration of torture,” lawyer Kaveh Shahrooz told the angry demonstrators gathered in front of the centre on Stouffville Sideroad.
Shahrooz is one of the leading activists who convinced Canada’s Parliament to recognize the 1988 Ayatollah-led massacre of 5,000 political prisoners in Iran as constituting crimes against humanity.
Zafar Bangash, president of the Islamic Society, told York Region Media Group Friday that the event would commemorate Khomeini’s good work, in the same way Martin Luther King and Ghandi are celebrated, for “trying to remove injustice”.
That comparison is “an insult to the wisdom of and intelligence of billions of people on this planet and in particular to hundreds of thousands of Iranian-Canadians,” said Reza Moridi, Richmond Hill MPP and one of several politicians to speak to the protesters Sunday.
Other speakers at the rainy protest included Oak-Ridges-Markham MPP Dr. Helena Jaczek, Thornhill MPP Gila Martow, Newmarket-Aurora MPP Chris Ballard, York University associate director Dr. Farrokh Zandi and Chief Executive Officer of the B’Nai Brith Canada, Michael Mostyn.

The Islamic society’s decision to pay tribute to the Ayatollah sent shockwaves worldwide via the Internet and international media.

As the protesters chanted in the cold rain and police directed traffic, a slow trickle of cars and school buses filed through the iron gates into the Islamic centre’s 33-acre compound.

“Today, my fellow Canadians, we have gathered here to raise our voices against those people, on the other side of this street, who are praising and celebrating the life of a man who murdered hundreds of thousands of people in our homeland of Iran,” Moridi addressed a sea of flags and umbrellas lining the rural highway.

“Shame on those people who are celebrating a murderer! Shame on those people who call themselves Canadians, but they don’t know Canadian values!”

The protesters, who represented a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, accused the York Region Islamic Society of luring teenagers to follow Khomeini and ISIS, and they appealed to the Canadian government to intervene.

“We want lawmakers to take steps to prevent young members of the Muslim community to be indoctrinated and brainwashed by this type of propaganda …and to use full force of the law to limit such hateful gatherings in the future, insofar as doing so is consistent with the Charter,” Sharooz said.

According to the society’s website, the facility “provides prayer facilities as well as character building, especially for our youth”.

Invitations to the Khomeini event promised contests with prizes of laptops, cameras and gift cards.

Critics questioned whether the governing regime in Iran provided funding for the event, but Bangash said his centre received donations from “business people”.

The centre has paid tribute to Khomeini in previous years, but protesters said this year’s event served more of a flashpoint because the world is much more aware of dangers of Islamic fundamentalism.

Others claimed that they were photographed from within the society’s walls at a similar demonstration last year, and expressed fear that their speaking out on Canadian soil could imperil relatives still living in Iran.

One woman, who did not reveal her name, said her photograph was shown to a nephew in Iran by authorities and demanded “are you a spy like your aunt?”

A letter signed by 90 high-profile members of the Iranian-Canadian community, addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, expressed outrage and revulsion.

“We request a strong condemnation of the Islamic Society of York, who have the audacity to organize this event … an insult to humanity and the families of the victims.”

Iranian Kurdish political parties in Canada also released a joint statement condemning the event and its organizer.

Posted in News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hundreds vow to protest event honouring Ayatollah

YorkRegion.com

Emotions are running high in the lead-up to a planned protest outside the Islamic Centre of York Region in Richmond Hill this weekend.

Organizers say hundreds of Iranian and Jewish Canadians and politicians will converge on Stouffville Sideroad in front of the Islamic Society of York Region to protest an event honouring the life and deeds of Ayatollah Khomeini.

“I am deeply saddened and disappointed that the commemoration of the 26th anniversary of Ayatollah Khomeini’s death and his brutal dictatorship is taking place in Richmond Hill, Ontario,” said Reza Moridi, Richmond Hill MPP and Canada’s first Iranian-Canadian  provincial minister.

Moridi is one of several provincial and federal politicians expected to attend the protest Sunday afternoon.

“While freedom of assembly is the right of every citizen in our nation, I condemn the celebration of an individual that was responsible for the heinous deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iran,” Moridi said.

Khomeini, founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran, is recognized as having authorized the execution of thousands of political prisoners, the systematic torture, imprisonment and murder of political dissidents and the hostage-taking of 52 American diplomats.

A group calling itself the Muslim Community of GTA will be hosting the event, An Awakening Against Global Injustice.

Zafar Bangash, head of the Islamic Society of York Region and director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought,  said 3-400 people are expected to take part, listening to speeches by “world renowned” speakers, panel discussions, and poetry, art and quiz competitions.

Bangash compared the event to others that honour good work done by heroes like Martin Luther King and Ghandi.

“It will be a reminder to us there is still a lot of injustice in the world and to see [Khomeini’s] contribution in trying to remove injustice.”

But Jason Kenney, Canada’s defence minister and another politician expected to attend the protest, sees it differently. He voiced his concern via social media last week:

“Disturbing to see anyone in Canada celebrating the murderous depravity of Ayatollah Khomeini’s brutal dictatorship.”

The Jewish Defence League of Canada and B’nai Brith Canada are also protesting the event.

“B’nai Brith, which represents grassroots Canadian Jewry, believes in a tolerant and pluralistic society that is respectful of all its citizens,” said CEO Michael Mostyn.

“Iran today is not only causing chaos in Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and Iraq, but through proxy supporters of the Ayatollah around the world, seeks to spread a message of intolerance and hatred. There is no place for the Ayatollah’s hate-propaganda in any modern civil society.”

Tarek Fatah, Pakistan-born Canadian political activist, writer and broadcaster, yesterday called out for protesters to “do something for your country and your children’s future. We need to stand up against these medieval monsters…Let’s kick some Khomeini ass”.

Reza Banai, a Canadian who says he left Iran to escape atrocities for a country that respects individual rights and security, helped organize the protest. He said the Islamic Centre is misusing this country’s freedoms.

“We are members of the Iranian-Canadian community who feel embarrassed and offended to witness such unjust ‘celebration’,” he said. “You can’t come here and celebrate this kind of evil on this land.”

Banai, of Toronto, warned that by turning a blind eye to such events, Canada could be inviting the kind of problems with extremism being experienced in Europe, where citizens “didn’t stop it when they had a chance. You deal with a cold when it is a cold, not when it turns into pneumonia.”

He questioned how the centre’s events are funded, which promises, in its invitation, gifts including laptops and cameras.

“They are throwing these inducements; obviously there is some money behind this,”  he said, suggesting an investigation is called for to determine if the Iranian regime is providing funds.

But Bangash said Sunday’s event is being funded by contributions from those who attend. The free laptop, digital cameras and gift cards are donations from business people, he said.

“It’s not a huge sum of money, not like the huge amount of money stolen from Iran that these people [protesting the event] brought to Canada.”

Many claim to have been refugees, he said, but then purchased “huge mansions in Richmond Hill.

“We don’t have to explain our conduct. The ones who should explain their conduct are these people who are supporters of the Shah…who come here and make up all kinds of stories and allegations to cover up their own criminal past.”

Thanks to Khomeini, Bangash said, there is more equality and the poor are better off in Iran.

 “I don’t see why these people should be worried… He stood out against injustice. Perhaps these people want injustice.”

Bangash said he was not aware of a massive protest being planned outside his mosque. Provided they don’t trespass on the centre’s property, he said, the demonstrators have a right to protest, just as his Muslim group has a right to honour Khomeini.

“We are Canadian citizens, we pay taxes, we are law abiding, we have rights.”

 “They do not have the right to promote hate in this country,” Banai said.

A petition is calling on “all municipal, provincial, and federal public officials to speak out forcefully against the event.

“Any glorification of this heinous and criminal record is an insult to Khomeini’s many victims, including those who have found refuge in Canada,” the petition says. “The deliberate whitewashing of history at the expense of Khomeini’s victims, far from “an awakening against global injustice,” amounts to nothing more than a cynical ploy to further a political agenda by apologists of the Islamic regime in Iran.”

The Islamic Centre, located near Stouffville Sideroad and Leslie Street, has been a flashpoint for controversy in the past.

Last May, a variety of faith groups organized a protest against the centre’s conference on Kashmir that protesters said included radical Islamists, anti-Semitic leaders and pro-militancy Kashmir separatist speakers – but no Kashmiris.

York Regional Police have been called to monitor other controversial events at the Islamic Centre and a racially charged rally at Queens Park, Al-Quds, featured speeches by the mosque’s imam Bangash.

Posted in Human Rights, News | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Kurdish Political Parties in Canada Voice Their Concern over Khomeini’s Memorial in Toronto

Kurdpa: PDKI and Komala representations in Canada call for the annulment of Khomeini’s memorial event in Toronto.

Following the Toronto Muslim Community’s decision to hold an event for the Islamic Republic of Iran’s founder, Ayatollah Mousavi Khomeini on Sunday May 31, 2015, there were large outcries of opposition for such events being held in Canada.

Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, Eastern Canada Committee and Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, North American Committee released a joint statement condemning the event and its organizers.

The full statement is published below:

Call to Protest Against the Audacious Event for Iranian Regime Founder, Mousavi Khomeini, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada

The Muslim community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) will be holding an event at the Islamic Society of York Region to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Iran’s Islamic state founder, Mousavi Khomeini: “An Awakening Against Global Injustice”.

While we respect freedom of assembly and expression, it is deeply offensive to hold remembrance for a brutal dictator whose hands are tainted by the blood of thousands, if not millions, of innocent Iranians and non-Iranians alike.

Mousavi Khomeini’s heinous historical record is well-known internationally. As documented by countless United Nations condemnations, human rights organization reports and many other independent investigations, he was responsible for the killing, execution, torture, disappearance, rape, and imprisonment of tens of thousands of Iranians whose only crimes were the peaceful exercise of their political, social or religious rights. Khomeini, then the Supreme leader of Iran, was directly responsible for numerous violent acts including, but not limited to:

The systematic torture, imprisonment and execution of thousands of political dissidents throughout the 1980s, and most importantly, his direct order to execute thousands of political prisoners in the summer of 1988, for which Canada’s Parliament courageously adopted a unanimous consent motion recognizing the massacre of political prisoners in Iran in 1988 as ‘crimes against humanity’.

In numerous speeches, Khomeini declared all who opposed or criticized his Islamic form of government as “Enemies of God”, and assured their elimination. On August 18, 1979, Khomeini declared “holy war” against the Kurds of Iran. Therefore, August 18 is a date regarded by Kurdish Iranians as a day when Kurdistan became the target of brutal attacks by Khomeini regime’s oppressive forces, which led to the death and displacement of hundreds of thousands in the Kurdish regions of the country.

On the international stage, Khomeini was responsible for numerous assassinations of Iranian political dissidents and activists inside Iran and on foreign soils, including his death decree for Iranian Kurdish leader, Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, in Vienna, Austria in 1989, amongst countless others.

As Kurdish Canadians that have suffered the first-hand atrocities ordered by the then Supreme Leader, Khomeini, we believe this event to be insolence to the many victims who have fled this regime, and have called Canada home.

We strongly encourage the Kurdish community in Ontario to join us on Sunday, May 31, at 4:00 p.m. at the intersection of Stouffville Road and Leslie Street in Richmond Hill (1380 Stouffville Rd.), to protest against such a despicable event.

We also call upon the Government of Canada, which has shown the highest leadership in condemning the gross human rights violations committed by the leaders of the regime of the Islamic Republic, to outlaw any form of celebration and glorification of the founders of the Islamic Regime and to consider it an insult to humanity and to the families of the affected victims.

Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan – North America Committee
Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran – Eastern Canada Committee
May 29, 2015

Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Hazhir B.

Posted in Human Rights, News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment