Mar 09, 2011

Iranian Kurdistan: Local Politicians Foresee Popular Protests

Leaders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan predict that the protests happening around the Middle East will soon reach Iran amid hopes for a more inclusive opposition movement to emerge

Below is an article published by Rudaw: 

The wave of protests currently engulfing the Middle East has reached Iran, prompting the Iranian Kurdish opposition parties to call on the Kurds in the country to rise up against the Islamic regime in Tehran. 

Kamal Karimi, a senior leader in one of the major Kurdish opposition groups, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), said the so-called Green Movement led by Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi “will not realize people’s objectives because those two figures do not want the Islamic Republic [of Iran] to be brought down. They would rather see [President Mahmoud] Ahmedinejad gone, but the Iranian people are using this as an opportunity to stage nationwide demonstrations within the country.” 

Iran has witnessed unrest since the 2009 presidential elections, which saw Ahmedinejad resume power. His main rivals, Mousavi and Karoubi, have not accepted the outcome of the elections and have accused the president and his supporters within the establishment of widespread fraud and vote-rigging.

Although, in the initial demonstrations after the elections, people simply wanted a fair recount of the votes and called on the president to leave, the protest slogans have long been demanding a removal of the current regime.  

Trying to use the momentum caused by the protests in the region, Iranian Kurdish opposition parties have issued statements asking their supporters to take to the streets. 

Omar Balaki, another top KDPI leader, told Rudaw the Kurds “should not let this historic opportunity fizzle out. We predict that the storm of protests currently raging around the Middle East region will soon reach the Islamic Republic of Iran and people will rise up against the regime.” 

Iranian Kurds have rebelled against successive regimes in Tehran throughout the 20th century. In the mid-1940s, Iranian Kurds established the first Kurdish republic, which was only to be brought to an end a year later. 

After the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian Kurds demanded autonomy, but the government refused to recognize this. As a result, there were years of violence between the regime in Tehran and the armed Iranian Kurdish parties. 

However, the major Iranian Kurdish parties are currently based in Iraqi Kurdistan and have not engaged in armed struggle with Tehran’s regime for years. 

Araf Bawajani, the head of the Kurdistan Freedom Party (KFP), criticized the Iranian Kurdish parties for not being able to formulate a platform. 

 “We need to agree on a few common goals and put aside the spirit of partisan enmity, so that if we return to East [Iranian] Kurdistan, we will know how to handle the situation, because if we are not united, nobody will listen to us,” said Bawajani, adding that the Iranian regime is seeking to prevent its collapse by creating problems outside its borders. 

Commenting on the current wave of protests in the semiautonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq, Bawajani said it was a grave mistake to compare the situation in Kurdistan to Egypt and Tunisia. 

He said Iran had been playing a role in disrupting the situation in the mainly Shiite kingdom of Bahrain and had been trying to do the same in the Iraqi Kurdistan region. 

Bahrain has experienced weeks of protests now and the country’s Shiites are demanding the removal of the Sunni ruling elite, including the king. 

During more than two weeks of protests in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Sulaimani province, eight people have died, and more than 200 others have been wounded.