Apr 23, 2018

Iranian Kurdistan: Kurdish Cities Enact General Strike in Response to Iranian Regime’s Closure of Borders

Anger and frustration has increased in Iranian Kurdistan. Following a rise of taxation for inhabitants in Iranian Kurdistan to pass into Iraqi Kurdistan, which had already ignited strikes as it was harming inhabitant’s livelihoods, the border has now been closed by the Iranian regime. Kurdish cities in Iran have entered their first week of general strike. The border closure is the Iranian regime’s attempt to force the people of Iranian Kurdistan to trade with Iranian regions. This border closure severely harms Iranian Kurdish livelihoods and job opportunities.

This article has been published by UNPO Member the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI):

In response to the Iranian regime’s closure of the border between eastern (Iranian) and southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan, a general strike has entered its first week. The Iranian regime has closed the borders between the two parts of Kurdistan in order to force the people of Kurdistan to trade with Iranian goods. This is due to the failure of the economic policies of the regime and the severe economic crisis in the country.

The Cooperation Center of the Kurdish Organizations in Iranian Kurdistan, of which PDKI is a member, issued a statement in which it condemns the Iranian regime and expressed its support for the general strike in border towns and cities of Kurdistan. 

The Iranian regime has for decades pursued an Islamist policy of “resistance economy” in order to make Iran economically self-sufficient. In contrast, since the establishment of Kurdish self-rule in Iraqi Kurdistan in the 1990s, and especially following the toppling of the Baathist regime in Iraq in 2003, cross-border trade has increased between the two parts of Kurdistan.

Unlike the Islamic Republic of Iran, the people of Kurdistan in the border region have pursued trade with Iraqi Kurdistan in an effort to create job opportunities in Iranian Kurdistan. The Iranian regime, whose economic policies have created an impending economic collapse in Iran, is closing the borders with Iraqi Kurdistan in order to compel the people of Kurdistan to trade with goods manufactured in Iran. Many Persians who are suffering from economic difficulties, travel to Iranian Kurdistan to buy cheaper and more high-quality goods.

The Iranian regime, which has pursued a deliberate and continuous policy of economic underdevelopment in Iranian Kurdistan, is now increasing its pressure on Kurdistan.

Since the Iranian regime does not allow any free trade with either Iraqi Kurdistan or Turkey, Kurdish citizens who are unemployed have become “kolbar”, or porters. The Kurdish porters carry goods on their backs from Iraqi Kurdistan to Iranian Kurdistan. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards often either confiscate these goods or shoot the Kurdish porters. 

In its annual report, the Kurdish human rights watch organization Hengaw reports that in the first half of the past year alone, 150 Kurdish porters were killed by Iranian forces. 

The Iranian regime is now taking further steps in its Islamist and repressive policies by closing the border region between Iranian and Iraqi Kurdistan. This will result in a further impoverishment and economic hardship in Iranian Kurdistan. The Cooperation Center of the Kurdish Organizations is supporting the general strike as a form of civil resistance against the Islamist and anti-Kurdish policies of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Nasser Haghighat.