January 25, 2016

UNPO Announces House of Commons Conference: 'Iran's Kurds at a Crossroads? International and Cross-Border Strategies'

The Centre for Kurdish Progress and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) are pleased to announce a public forum entitled ‘Iran’s Kurds at a Crossroads? – International and Cross-Border Strategies’. The event will take place in Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, British Parliament, on 25 January 2016 between 19:00 and 21:00. This event is kindly hosted by Mrs Emma Reynolds Labour MP for Wolverhampton North East. Mr Gary Kent, Director of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Kurdistan Region, will chair this forum.

The conference will bring together activists, representatives of Kurdish political parties, academics, British politicians and policy advisers, students and other interested parties. The event will analyse the situation of the Kurdish community in Iran, comparing it with that of the Kurdish communities of neighbouring countries, and look into possible ways to bring increased attention to Iranian Kurdistan, through cross-border and international strategies. 

Especially after the 1979 revolution, the Kurds in Iran have faced extreme repression and a wide range of injustices, including systematic economic, social and political disadvantage, forced assimilation policies and discrimination by Iranian authorities. In the light of recent events in the Middle East, the Kurds living in Iraq, Syria and Turkey have received increased attention by European media. However, the voice of Iran’s over 8 million Kurds remains unheard – a consequence of Iran’s relative isolation from international affairs and the delicacy surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme and the international negotiations on the subject.

The recently concluded nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1, is opening Iran to increased economic and political relations. This may offer an opportunity for greater awareness of the situation of the country’s minorities, and open new avenues for international engagement and cross-border cooperation.

However, the fact that Iran’s human rights situation was not taken into account during the negotiations is extremely worrying and these increased relations, as well as the economic development that will follow, will be more difficult for the minorities to enjoy and could even be seen as legitimising the status quo. In this heated context, the conference will seek to explore the possible ways to strengthen the domestic and international visibility of Eastern Kurdistan, as well as to discuss how different political groups can work together with other Iranian minorities for a democratization of the country.