No opposition forces to defend Kurds in Iran, US more open: Kurdish leader
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Kurdish Iranian official on Thursday criticized the current political climate in Iran, stating there are no democratic opposition forces paying attention to the rights of the Kurds and other minorities, contrasted with renewed US interest in the Iranian issue.
“We [the Kurdish Iranian (Rojhelat) parties] do not see any democratic opposition parties in Iran with whom we can cooperate,” said Mustafa Hijri, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI). “Still, we are attempting… with those who think democratically and speak of the rights of the Kurds and other minorities, to establish relations,” Hijri told Kurdistan 24.
Hijri, who was recently in the US on “an official invitation from the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington DC,” a nonprofit think tank specializing in US foreign policy and international affairs, raised concerns about growing discontent in Iran, notably among minorities.
He participated in two meetings with US State Department officials, one with the Iranian section and the other with the Deputy Director of Democracy and Human Rights.
Hijri and Abdullah Mohtadi, the head of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, completed their extended visit to Washington last week.
Speaking from his experience and past visits, Hijri said “my understanding is that they are more receptive to our words” and that the US is more willing to consider “our suggestions, especially those regarding [Iranian] Kurdistan.”
He said that the conference that the Council on Foreign Relations had organized was the first ever on the issue of Iranian Kurds (Rojhelat) and their future.
At the tail end of their meetings, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a series of tweets on Wednesday and Thursday describing growing unrest in Iran, lambasting Tehran on its human rights track record.
However, Mohtadi and Hijri believe a regime change is the people’s task.
“We are in discussions with the Persian [opposition] parties, and are exchanging ideas.”
Regarding division among Rojhelat parties, Hijri claimed they are not scattered.
“We have a center for cooperation and are discussing events that are taking place in Iran.”
Kurds are the third largest ethnic population in Iran, sitting at 10 percent, after the Azeris, and with limited rights.
The Iranian government regularly targets Rojhelat parties, which they view as a risk to national security, even breaching international borders. Three were killed in March alone.
The previous Sunday, KDPI Central Command released a statement in which they clarified that their Peshmerga forces had killed nine and injured 18 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps in clashes on June 8 near an Iran-Iraq border town.
Founded in 1945 by iconic Kurdish leader and President of the short-lived Kurdistan Republic of Mahabad, Qazi Muhammad, the KDPI, a secular and social democratic party, has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy and rights in Iran for decades.
The PDKI reignited a conflict with the Islamic Republic in June 2016, 20 years after laying down their weapons in 1996 to prevent jeopardizing Kurdish gains made in northern Iraq.
Tehran is even engaged in a crackdown against unarmed Kurdish Iranian couriers (Kulbars) who carry goods between the Kurdistan Region and Iranian Kurdistan, killing and wounding at least six last week.
Editing by Nadia Riva