SANANDAJ, Iran (Kurdistan24) – Following the latest Iranian presidential debates, Kurdish women launched a campaign to boycott the upcoming elections.
Storming social media with a Kurdish hashtag that asks people to leave town on election day on May 19, Kurds announced they refuse to “vote for discrimination.”
Kurdish women said their gender, ethnicity, and religion automatically disqualifies them from running for important managerial positions in Iran.
They also said that during the debates none of the six candidates referred to the issues of discrimination women and minorities grapple with in Iran.
“Boycotting the election is the best way to express civil disobedience against a misogynistic regime,” Kurdish activist Shler Bapiri told Kurdistan24 in a phone interview.
“Ever since the Islamic Republic has taken over Iran, not a simple improvement in the life of Kurdish women has happened,” the Netherlands-based activist continued.
In solidarity with women, Kurdish men also said they would refuse to vote.
“My mother tongue is not taught in Iran. My sister and wife’s rights are denied under the current regime. Supporting the election would be insulting the women I respect,” a social media user wrote.
Kurdish parties have also urged their followers not to participate in the “undemocratic” election.
The Democratic Party (PDK), the three branches of the Kurdish Communist Komala party, and the Khabat party urged the people in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhilat) not to participate in the May 19 elections.
“The ‘so-called’ elections will be carried out completely under the control of the Iranian regime. There are no democratic measures to ensure the elections will be open and free,” the parties stated.
“The Iranian regime does not allow for opposition; there is no freedom,” they added.
The parties believe there is much at stake for Iranian Kurds.
“The Kurdish people in Iran have no rights as citizens,” underscoring the exclusion of an estimated 10 million Kurds in the Iranian political system. “This election is meaningless.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani previously stated his government would work for broader national and religious rights in the country including in the Kurdish regions.
Even with an estimated 10-13 million Kurds living in Iran, the promises have largely remained unfulfilled.
Despite being nearly 13 percent of the Iranian population, Kurds make up about 50 percent of political prisoners, according to the United Nations.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany