The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which has cordial relations with Iran, so I read on Rudaw has called on Kurdish opposition groups from Iran based in the Kurdistan Region not to launch attacks against neighboring countries and Iranian security forces. The KRG also continues to blame the PKK on Turkey’s violence in Kurdistan in Iraq, claiming the region would be in peace if the PKK just left. Why do we never hear the KRG speak out against the suppression that is at the root of the violence of the resistance?
It is, to be clear, not a surprise to hear the KRG call on the Kurdish opposition from Iran not to launch attacks against Iran from its territory. This has been the deal since the early 1980s, when these groups had to flee from Iran. They had supported the revolution, but soon became disappointed by the new regime, launched an uprising that was ruthlessly suppressed, after which they crossed the border into Iraq. The Kurdistan Region didn’t exist as such yet, Saddam Hussein was firmly in his seat in Baghdad, but the mountains in the north of the country were a relatively safe refuge. But there was a condition: don’t launch attacks against Iran.
The most important party at the time was the KDPI. Currently, the Kurdish opposition from Iran is very fragmented, but most of them still have their headquarters in the mountains across the border in Kurdistan in Iraq. If you want to know more about the resistance in the 1980s, I recommend the interactive documentary film Big Village made by Dutch-Kurdish filmmaker Beri Shalmashi, whose parents were revolutionary Kurds from Iran and settled in Gewrede, meaning Big Village. Beri was a toddler at the time.
From the same decade, the 1980s, is the understanding between KDP leader Massoud Barzani and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan that the PKK could set up camp in the mountains. There was no deal that the PKK could not attack Turkey. The agreement even stipulated, an academic told me in a recent interview, that the KDP and PKK would work together against imperial and fascist powers in Iraq and Turkey. That’s a vague wording of course, ‘work together’, and it doesn’t necessarily imply violence, but there was obviously no disagreement about the fact that the regimes in Baghdad and Ankara were imperialist and fascist.
We haven’t heard any such explicit words from Massoud Barzani or anybody else in the KRG about Turkey. Also, the KRG is not calling on Turkey to set up a negotiating table with the PKK to seriously and genuinely work towards peace. Never have we heard the Kurdish leaders in Erbil pressure Turkey to respect Kurdish political, cultural and linguistic rights. Never does it go to the root of revolutionary violence: suppression, and the demand to live in freedom.
It’s awkward to say the least. Back in the 1980s, the peshmerga fought against suppression themselves, and were considered to be terrorists by Saddam, who even launched genocidal chemical attacks against the Kurdish civilian population. Many peshmerga have given their lives in the struggle against Saddam and in the process to gain the autonomy that the Kurdistan Region now enjoys now.
Is it a tribute to their sacrifice to not acknowledge the existential struggle of the Kurds from Turkey that is taking place now?
Is it a tribute to the many Kurds from Rojhilat (Kurdistan in Iran) who were bombed by Iran and forced to flee and scatter around the world only to long to return to Kurdistan even in the next generations, to call on the remaining opposition groups not to attack Iran?
Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to acknowledge how detrimental Kurds continue to be treated by the powers in Tehran? Iranian secret services killed the leader of the KDPI, the legendary Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, in Vienna in 1989. Recently, several Kurdish opposition leaders from Rojhilat have been murdered in the Kurdistan Region, and these murders are done with full impunity. Inside Iran, Kurds continue to be suppressed, and when you hear of anybody being hanged in Iran, the change that it is a Kurd that is hung.
Why doesn’t the KRG speak out louder? Sure, they have no leverage against Iran and Turkey, but persistantly warning the victims of state violence instead of the mass murderers, is the exact opposite of the solidarity and unity that is necessary.