Kurdish Leader Expresses Concern Over Deal with Iran

Kurdish leader Mustafa Hijri expresses his concern over a possible deal with Iran in a letter to President Obama and other world leaders. “Iranians struggling for freedom in their country, and especially the Kurdish people, are concerned that a deal over the nuclear program with the dictatorship in Tehran could be made at the expense of human rights and democracy,” Hjiri writes in his letter to U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and UN Secretary General Banki Moon.

Mr. Hijri, leader of the main Kurdish opposition party in Iranian Kurdistan, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI), is known for his firm position that only a democratically elected government in Iran can take meaningful steps in solving the nuclear crisis. In several speeches and interviews, he has emphasized that the nuclear issue should not be treated in isolation from the clerical regime’s leading role in international terrorism, destabilization policies in the Middle East, obstruction of peace efforts in Palestine, and other threats to international peace and security.

“The government in Iran should only be trusted by the international community, and expected to play a constructive role internationally, if it can gain the trust of its citizens at home,” Mr. Hijri writes in his letter to world leaders. “This cannot be achieved in the absence of respect for human rights and genuine democracy in the country,” he adds.

Mr. Hijri further emphasizes that the diplomatic charm offensive undertaken by Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president, should not be allowed to obscure the fact that the systematic violation of human rights in Iran continues unabated. Aside from citing the execution of Kurdish political prisoners since Mr. Rouhani came into office, Mr. Hijri reminds world leaders of the fact that “Kurdish children are deprived of the right to education in their mother tongue, and Mr. Rouhani is insistent on continuing this inhumane policy.”

According to the Kurdish leader, Iran’s willingness to engage the international community should not be read as a sign of change on the part of the Iranian regime. He believes that the Iranian regime is forthcoming in this regard due to the impact of international sanctions. As a result, he expresses his skepticism regarding the possibility of a meaningful and durable resolution of the nuclear crisis.

Citing the Kurdish movement’s experience in negotiations with the clerical regime, Mr. Hijri also questions the sincerity of the Iranian regime in his letter. Once Kurdish guerilla forces defeated Iranian forces in what is known as the “three months war” in 1980, Ayatollah Khomeini sent a delegation to Iranian Kurdistan for negotiations. However, it proved to be a tactical move. Once Khomeini had consolidated his rule and formed the Revolutionary Guards, they undertook a military offensive against Iranian Kurdistan. Similarly, Iranian diplomats assassinated Dr. A. R. Ghassemlou, the charismatic leader of Iranian Kurdistan, during negotiations in Vienna in 1989.

“My party, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, has always been committed to the peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue through dialogue and negotiations, “ Mr. Hijri writes. “However, as the past record of the Iranian regime’s actions demonstrates, negotiations ended in the assassination of our leaders and an intensification of the oppression against the Kurdish people,” the letter says.

The Kurdish leader also stresses the importance of including issues pertaining to human rights and democracy in any future deal with the Iranian regime. “Therefore, we appeal to the international community that a deal with the Islamic Republic should be contingent on its commitment to ending human rights violations in Iran as well as ensuring the political and cultural rights of the various nations in the country through a free and democratic process, “ the letter ends.