Iranian Kurdistan: Unified Kurdish Cause
Abdullah Hijab of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, who was recently elected as a UNPO presidency member at the organization’s General Assembly, suggests that a unified representation of the Iraqi Kurds could lead to a stronger international presence.
Below is an article published by Rudaw:
Abdullah Hijab, the representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) has been elected to represent the Kurdish nation in the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). In this interview with Rudaw, Hijab addresses the UNPO’s significance and the Kurdish position in the organization. He says that a unified representation of the Kurds inside the organization would help strengthen the Kurdish cause.
Rudaw: How will your membership in the general assembly of the UNPO affect the Kurdish cause?
Abdullah Hijab: Participating in running an organization like the UNPO is another international achievement for our cause. Each one of us here represents his/her national identity. On the international level, having a strong relation between some of the unrepresented nations shows that some of the strong nation states have lost legitimacy in ruling their societies.
Rudaw: At its 11th convention the UNPO stressed on the rights of unrepresented nations. What practical projects do you have in this regard?
Abdullah Hijab: According to international criteria, the UNPO’s decisions are based on the participating nations’ demands. The organization does not just make decisions. The UNPO is a platform for the participating nations to raise their demands according to international criteria. UNPO is working on establishing a mechanism to keep itself active in the international arena, particularly among UN-sponsored organizations.
Rudaw: What was achieved in the last convention?
“We asked the United Nations to keep the Kurdish cause in mind when negotiating with Iran.”
Abdullah Hijab: We issued a communiqué. Also, a proposal about eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan that was made by us was unanimously passed. The human rights violations in eastern Kurdistan were also discussed. However, the situation of eastern Kurdistan is not much different from the situation in the rest of Kurdistan. Therefore, we discussed the situation of the whole of Kurdistan. We particularly drew attention to the latest political development in the Kurdistan Region, and addressed the threats made by the Iraqi government against the Kurdistan Region. We also discussed the situation of Syria, western (Syrian) Kurdistan, Turkish policies against the Kurdish people, and the opportunities and threats that are facing the Kurds. However, when it comes to making decisions and proposals, we have to remain inside the framework of the KDPI, representing Iranian Kurdistan. Therefore, our decisions have to be related to Iranian Kurdistan. The main points in the communiqué were demands to prevent 29 Kurdish political prisoners from being executed in Iran and the freeing of Kurdish political prisoners in Iran. Also, we asked the United Nations to keep the Kurdish cause in mind when negotiating with Iran.
Rudaw: Why is only the KDPI a member of the organization? Why not other political parties?
Abdullah Hijab: The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are founding members of the UNPO. They have been members of the organization since the 1990s. Sadly, in the recent meetings/convention neither one attended, maybe because now these two parties have more powerful ways and better political channels to advance their causes. Therefore, one can say that the PUK and KDP are not paying attention to the UNPO. However, I believe if these two parties -- or perhaps a unified Kurdistan Regional Government representative -- worked in the organization, they could achieve another international success for the Kurdish issue. That would also strengthen the position of the Kurdish nation in the organization. Now independent states like Taiwan, Armenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, East Timor are all members of the organization. For example, Taiwan tries to advance its own demands and cause internationally via the UNPO. All these states have become members of the organization since a long time ago. Abkhazia, which is occupied by Russia and is recognized as an independent state by five countries, is also a member. Somaliland, which is a less or more independent region is also an active member of the organization. The latter two nations have their representatives in the organization’s presidency. All the unrepresented nations try to find an avenue to represent themselves in the international order. UNPO is a good opportunity for the Kurds.
“The Kurds in southern Kurdistan also have an important place in the organization.”
Rudaw: What are the criteria for becoming a member of the UNPO?
Abdullah Hijab: The main criterion is that the organization or party that seeks membership is supported by the majority of the people it claims to represent. They also have to be peaceful in their struggle and abide by democratic principles.
Rudaw: Do you represent all Kurdistan or just eastern Kurdistan?
Abdullah Hijab: My membership in the organization is through the KDPI. Our goal is obvious: It is to solve the Kurdish problem in eastern Kurdistan. However, KDPI is a part of the larger Kurdish national struggle. KDPI sees its own interests in the interest of the whole Kurdish nation. Therefore, KDPI tries to protect the Kurdish national interests among all the organizations in which it is a member.
Rudaw: How many unrepresented nations are members of the UNPO, and which ones are the most influential?
Abdullah Hijab: UNPO has 41 members. Some of the members are less active nowadays. I believe the number of members in the organization is not important. All the members in the organization are valued, because each one represents a nation. Nations are equal. However, some of the members are more influential. Some of the unrepresented nations in South Asia are not represented at all, unfortunately. Taiwan, Somaliland, Abkhazia act as independent states. Tibet and Uyghur have a large international support. The Kurds in southern Kurdistan also have an important place in the organization. This shows some of the members have more influence.