Kurdistan Iranian Kurds close down shops in memory of assassinated leader

Iranian Kurds close down shops in memory of assassinated leader
Photo taken on July 13, 2016 shows closed stores in Iranian Kurdistan (Rojhalat) where a sprayed sign reads "Ghassemlou won't die." (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24)- Commemorating the twenty-seventh anniversary of the assassination of an influential Kurdish leader, many markets around Iranian Kurdistan (Rojahalat) were shut down on Tuesday.

In a general strike, several stores in Mahabad, Sena (Sanandaj), Naghadeh and Piranshahr remained unopened in protest to the assassination of Dr. Abdulrahman Ghassemlou in July 13, 1989 in Vienna, Austria. The assassins remain on the loose, despite strong allegations that Iran was behind the murder.

A highly educated, charismatic, multi-lingual and influential leader of Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI), Ghassemlou was gunned down while negotiating with Iranian government agents to find a peaceful solution for the plights of the Kurds.

PDKI and other Kurdish parties encouraged citizens to close down shops and stay home on Tuesday in solidarity with fallen Kurds and to warn Iranian government of the power of civil disobedience.

Kurdistan24 received several photographs that showed unpopulated streets, slogans written on walls and stores closed down.

Locals say the government agents threatened many business owners in Rojhalat, Sena in particular, to keep their stores open on this day or their business licenses would be revoked.

Kaveh Ghoreishi, Germany-based journalist, told Kurdistan24 on the phone that this year’s strike is in continuation of numerous other strikes that have been staged in Rojhalat throughout the past 36 years, ever since the Islamic Republic has usurped power. 

“In addition to several large protests in 1979 and 80s when Kurds peacefully showed their dissatisfaction with the regime, there have been multiple independent or party-backed examples of civil disobedience in Rojhalat. The largest one was staged after Kamangar, Alamholi and others were executed," Ghoreishi said, referring to the May 2010 execution of several Kurds. 

He pointed out that KDP and KDPI have asked every year for strikes, but the situation was different this year in regards to recent clashes.

“Ghassemlou is an icon greater than political parties. But overall, when there is more unity between different parties and activists as they call on citizens for a peaceful protest, they receive a much larger response," Ghoreishi concluded.

Since mid-June clashes have erupted between Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI) Peshmerga fighters and Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the cities of Mariwan, Sardasht and Shno (Eshnavieh).KDPI says their forces have not been invasive and have had to defend themselves against Iranian revolutionary guards. Iran arrested several civilians in the past month without court orders and in the late hours of night.