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Kurdish Human Rights Activist Wants Iran to Pay for Its Crimes


Members of the Peshmerga--Kurdish soldiers--guard a village in Iraq. Turkey is allowing Iraqi Kurds to pass its border with Syria to fight IS. But Turkish Kurds are not allowed, which may lead to more antagonism. Photo: Reuters via

Members of the Peshmerga–Kurdish soldiers–guard a village in Iraq. Turkey is allowing Iraqi Kurds to pass its border with Syria to fight IS. But Turkish Kurds are not allowed, which may lead to more antagonism. Photo: Reuters via

Kurdish human rights activist Keywan Faramarzi raised awareness about human rights abuses experienced by Iranian Kurds and called on the international community to take action to change the situation.

Keywan Faramarzi, a board member of the International Network of Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights, wants Iran to pay for the crimes that the regime committed against the Kurds. He noted that “the current human rights situation in Iranian Kurdistan is so significantly awful that all aspects of human rights are severely violated. The Kurds are not only the subject of all general violations of human rights in the country, but also the subject of several specific violations of the very cardinal and basic rights such as the right to have a recognized identity as a Kurd, the right of nations to self determination, the right to receive education in one’s mother tongue or at least a bilingual education system.”

Faramarzi stated that the Iranian regime has a “strict security approach” in regards to the Kurds because they view them to be “ethnic separatists who are seeking their independence and for this particular reason, the region has been completely militarized. Hardly a socio-economic project will be started by the government. Besides, because of the cultural differences concerning religion and language, the region has been deprived of establishing any useful NGOs, organizing any effective social activities or developing any useful cultural activities. Even if these activities can be organized, its lifetime will be ephemeral and its founder will be arrested.”

According to Faramarzi, the vast majority of Iran’s political prisoners are Kurdish because Kurds can be arrested for doing the most mundane things and their plight is horrific. “The authorities of Urmia’s main prison transferred 27 Kurdish political prisoners from the political ward to a ward full of dangerous criminals, and for that particular reason, the Kurdish political prisoners went on hunger strike for 33 consecutive days to have their conditions resumed,” Faramarzi explained. “As the regime realized that the prisoner’s hunger strike could attract and raise the attention of the international community, the judiciary or the government immediately changed its decision, relocating the prisoners to their previous ward and restored their conditions. Therefore, the Kurdish political prisoners had part of their demands met and on the 33rd day, they ended the hunger strike.”

“The intention behind sending the Kurdish political prisoners to a criminal ward could be the fact that the regime planned to label them as criminals and then execute them without facing any potential severe critique from the international community, but luckily, this horrific plan turned into a failure due to the enormous attention the national and international community granted to the hunger strike,” he explained. Nevertheless, over 50 Kurdish political prisoners are still in imminent danger of being executed.

Faramarzi noted that the Iranian regime seeks to replace the Kurdish population in the region with other ethnic groups. In the past, Kurds were massively slaughtered in Qarna in 1979 and 59 young students were massacred in Mahabad in 1983. However, while the massacres have ceased, he emphasized to JerusalemOnline that the Iranian regime still shows no mercy on Kurdish antiquities and natural resources: “they have taken away everything that is available without investing back in the region. Since most Kurds are followers of the Sunni version of Islam, they are subject to violations and insults due to their religious difference even on national radio and TV programs.”

Aside from the human rights abuses, the Kurdish region suffers from a high rate of poverty and illiteracy “which in turn have led to Kurds doing illegal and unfavorable works that people do for their survival, such as the smuggling of merchandises by young people called Kolbar or back-carriers. Our latest updates about the Kolbars stated that daily several of them are killed by direct gunfire from Iranian military forces on the Iranian border with Iraq in the Kurdistan region.”

Faramarzi seeks to bring the Iranian regime to the ICC for committing human rights abuses against the Kurds. However, since Iran has only signed onto the statute of the ICC but their membership has not been ratified by the Iranian Parliament, no proceedings can be brought against Iran without the UN Security Council, especially for events that took place prior to 2002, before the establishment of the ICC. For this reason, Faramarzi filed and deposited claims to the ICC for documentation purposes and he has pursued charges against Iran via the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who will pass the claims forward to the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, Faramarzi is critical of the international community, for pursuing a nuclear deal with Iran that does not address the human rights situation within the country: “We believe that any negotiation with the international community will give a tiny space to the activists to breathe for a while, but we emphasize the fact that the nuclear negotiations or any final deal should also include international pressure for the improvement of the human rights situation in Iran and specifically Kurdistan. However, we undoubtedly believe that the regime’s intention regarding these negotiations is to buy sufficient time in order to develop its nuclear ambitions further.”

“We are of the opinion that the international community should address the human rights issues in Iran and particularly address the situations of the Kurds with a more unified tone than before,” he told JerusalemOnline. “Our least expectation form other nations is that the international community in general and in particular other nations which have direct issues with the regime, will consider the Kurdish issues and cases much more serious than before, and take the Kurdish cases such as crimes against the Kurds into account and into any further decision making process about Iran.”



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.