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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.”

  • juvus

    The right to receive education in your mother tongue? What freaking right is that? Did someone tell America this? There a zillion cultures here and nations need a common identity. You come here and you want to education in kurdish tough luck. Learn English MF. Same for Iran. You are in iran and the common language is Farsi. Learn it. Yes nations have a right to self determination and as a nation iran is determining that there is going to be one language for the country and everybody gets to speak it.

    Can you imagine if these rights this guy mentioned were real rights? China would be 100 little self determine regions and people would be learning 100 languages in schools.

    maybe you would like iran to do what America did with the Native Americans? Give you barren patch of land, encircle it and leave you to wither in alcohol and self pity. Would that be good enough for you Kurds?

    • Bart

      For plenty of reasons you cannot compare Iran with the United States. First of all, Iran is a very primitive society and remains primitive in all senses of primitivism, comparing to the US.
      The analogy of the language is not fair, because the English language is a worldwide spoken language and Farsi is an ineffective and useless. Why would someone compare Iran, Iraq or the like to the United States, isn’t a funny comparison? Can’t you guys see further and farther than your nose?
      Just in the US’s neighbor country where the English language is prevalent, there is a variation where people speak French as well, so would you tell them go and learn English, what is French?
      These kinds of comparisons are based on nothing and there is no rationality or any convincing logic behind it. Comments like this are directly descended from unleashed bigotry and blind nationalism or pure chauvinism and nothing else.
      The analogy of eradicating of native American or reducing the indigenous inhabitants of this land took place centuries ago in the period of colonialism by the settlers and it was not only in the US, you can see its effect throughout the Americas, Australia, New Zealand and many others in Africa. Those cases are not comparable to the Kurds and their cases in Iran.
      Pompous comment such the one above is not even acceptable by common sense let alone evaluating it by scientific reasons. Please understand it that Iran is not a monolith and its grandiose history is a tad dubious for many reasons.
      If I were I wouldn’t compare a useless language like Farsi to English, or I wouldn’t allow myself to compare the US to Iran, it is just argument from analogy and one cannot go any further with it.
      At the end I suggest that you (if probably live in the US) get some education, or at least learn the language properly. Your writing skill is simple down with plenty of mistakes. If you by any chance wish me to correct those wrong sentences of yours, I will do it by all means in the next comments. I don’t know where on earth people like you with lame arguments and a lame use of the language come up with these kinds of ludicrous comments.


Rachel Avraham
Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is a senior media research analyst at the Center for Near East Policy Research and a correspondent for the Israel Resource News Agency. She is based in Israel and publishes in a variety of media outlets throughout the world. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media." Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University and a BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.