For Kurdish Iranian Hawreh Haddadi, the brutality of the Iranian regime is nothing new. The Maine-based author of “Finding Kurdistan: A Kurdish Iranian-American’s Journey Home” believes that the answer, for the Kurds at least, is mutual solidarity. “If we’re not unified, the only winner is the Iranian government,” he says.
Iran has seen massive protests and riots since the death of 22 year-old Jina Amini—also known by her forced Farsi name “Mahsa”—on September 13. Jina, an ethnic Kurd, died in the custody of Iranian “morality police,” who had arrested her for wearing her hijab improperly. While the police claimed she had died due to a preexisting health issue, her family has denied this.
Like other minority groups in Iran, Kurds have faced enormous levels of discrimination, disproportionate arrests, executions and military attacks. Amini’s death has sparked outrage in Iran as well as among the Iranian diaspora—not least of all, amongst the Kurds.
In response to the protests, Iran has launched missile strikes into Iraqi Kurdistan, and its security forces have reportedly murdered hundreds of people. Western countries, such as Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, have sanctioned Iran for these actions. At a time when nuclear negotiations have stalled and Tehran is selling weapons to Russia for use in Ukraine, many are questioning whether or not the mullahs’ regime has much time left.
“It is hard to see Westerners continue [nuclear] negotiations at this point, especially if the protests continue,” says Halmat Palani, a Vancouver-based Kurdish rights activist and writer for Kurdistan24. “The documentation of their human rights abuses is tremendous. This isn’t just a protest anymore, it’s a revolution. And it’s not just a domestic revolution, but an international solidarity movement.”
Like Haddadi, Palani has been following the situation of Kurds and other minority groups in Iran closely for years now. Both men believe that the international community, including diaspora Persians, has largely been ignoring the role played by minorities within the Islamic Republic, as well as the ongoing discrimination there. However, Palani and other Kurdish activists have noted on social media that the Israeli media, more than most, plays up Amini’s Kurdish heritage and the struggle of the Kurds in Iran.
Haddadi believes that Kurds in Iran are finally unifying to a degree, and that there is a great coming together of forces in the country in general. While many across historic Kurdistan remain afraid of being targeted by Iran, he said, there is great solidarity in the diaspora, in other parts of Kurdistan and among other minority groups who want to see change.
“We have seen protests in 2009 and some other years, but nothing to this degree,” he said. “Now, women are leading the protests, because they have been denied so many opportunities … Persians are seeing what the Kurds have been saying for 40 years—but the Kurds cannot stop the regime alone.”
By Dmitri Shufutinsky/JNS.org