As Tehran’s 19 September deadline for the disarmament of Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups operating in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq approaches, tensions reach a critical point.
Calling for international intervention and warning of Iranian preparations to attack Iranian-Kurdish refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) issued a statement on Monday claiming that Iran has a history of launching similar attacks that have resulted in civilian casualties spanning more than three decades.
PDKI urged the United Nations, international human rights organisations, the Federal Government of Iraq, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to take immediate action to prevent attacks. The statement also calls on the United States and allies to take responsibility in countering Iranian aggression in the region.
According to the PDKI, over the last 30 years Iran has been responsible for the assassination of hundreds of Iranian Kurdish refugees and political activists in the Kurdistan Region. They have also carried out bombings during youth and children’s events and several attacks on political refugee camps in Kurdistan during the past four years, resulting in civilian casualties and injuries.
The PDKI reiterated its commitment to policy in line with international values, rejecting the Islamic Republic propaganda. They argue that it is the Islamic Republic’s repressive policies and militaristic environment that have made Iran, especially Kurdistan, unsafe for citizens.
Iran has long demanded that Iraq expel or disarm Kurdish opposition groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan. On 28 August, both Iranian and Iraqi officials announced a bilateral agreement to dismantle the bases of Iranian Kurdish armed groups stationed in northern Iraq by mid-September.
This includes groups such as the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDK-I), Komala and the Party for the Free Life of Kurdistan (PAK), which are based in Erbil (Hewlêr), Sulaymaniyah and Asos.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) vowed to resist these measures. Party co-chair Siamand Moini said in an interview on Monday that surrendering their weapons was not an option and the PJAK would unite with other Kurdish parties to resist aggression from Iran.
“In Iran, tensions are escalating within the authoritarian regime, especially as the first anniversary of Jina Amini’s death approaches,” Moini said. He pointed out that, historically, the Iranian regime has maintained a harsh policy against the Kurdish population and used tactics tantamount to ethnic cleansing. However, it has escalated its anti-Kurdish repression with the emergence of the ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî’ movement, which challenges the regime’s authority.
Moini stressed that escalation is evident in a wave of extrajudicial killings, widespread arrests and intimidation tactics. The regime’s main objective appears to be the demoralisation of Kurdish society and the sending of a clear message that it will not tolerate the liberation and revolution of the people, especially Kurds, Moini said.
In a statement released last week, the Komala Party also condemned Tehran’s threats to disarm opposition forces in the Kurdistan area. Alleging that Iran seeks to advance its agenda by exploiting “the influence of Shia Islamic groups within the Iraqi political framework”, Komala warns that disarming these opposition groups could potentially fuel “terrorism, foreign intervention and regional instability” not only in Iraq but also throughout the Middle East.