Dialogue of the Day,

“Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan with Radio Koocheh”

6 Jun 2011

6th June 2011

Ardavan Roozbeh / Radio Koocheh

Translated by Avideh Motmaen-Far

AR- Our guest today is Mr. Mostafa Hedjri, the Secretary General of the Iranian Kurdistan Democratic Party.  We have already talked about Iranian issues before. What is your assessment of Kurdistan today?

MH- Do you mean Iranian Kurdistan or Kurdistan in general?
AR- We now see things happening in Iranian Kurdistan, which are the results of the governmental approaches. I mean in 2011 in Iranian Kurdistan.

Then, when the Islamic Republic referendum was conducted, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan was one of the parties who did not participate in this referendum and boycotted it. As a result, a few people in Kurdistan participated in this election. The reason behind it at the time was that this regime with its basic ideas cannot guarantee freedom for the people of Iran. We then had objected to the way the referendum was going to be conducted. The question was either Islamic Republic or monarchy. People had already voted no to the Monarchy with the revolution so they did not want to go back there and the second issue was that the Islamic Republic has not been tested as an alternative regime and with what they promised, people hoped they would get rid of the monarchy and reach their demands of democratic freedoms. But the Democratic Party believed that this referendum was not right and the regime somehow deceived people with this referendum. That was why we did not participate.

So because of the emotional dominant atmosphere at that time, the Kurdistan Democratic Party had been isolated and was flagged as dependent to the imperialism and tagged even up to now by the Islamic Republic with other labels. When the American Embassy was invaded by some so-called students, the Kurdistan Democratic Party announced that this policy is contrary to international conventions and the Iranian people will have to pay the price for their wrong policies. That increased even more the attacks against us because an anti-imperialist and leftist atmosphere were governing but the result of the embassy invasion turned out to be what we predicted.

At that time people were mesmerized by some religious influences and promises of the Islamic Republic in regards to the welfare and freedom and imagined that all of them would be brought upon  but time cleared up many things. Step by step, ideas and analysis and predictions of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan became clear for the Kurdish and the rest of Iranians. Although the Islamic Republic of Iran tried to crackdown the Kurdistan Democratic Party and other political parties that no one could even hear them breathe and the only party to be heard be the Islamic Republic but fortunately they failed, the Democratic Party and other political parties could provide tips and information to people and play their role.

I think that people in Kurdistan, are much more aware now in terms of the political and legal recognition of their rights and also in terms of violation of their rights. That is the reason that resistance is more important there compared to other places in Iran and why there are most severe repression and much more political prisoners too. More than half of about 23 political prisoners who are in death row are Kurdish political activists. Fortunately we were able to give people this knowledge and therefore the Kurdish people are more aware than before.

Of course, external factors also had an impact on people knowledge. One of the very important factors has been the change in the political situation in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqi Kurdistan has its parliament, its local government, its newspapers and freedom of speech. Iranian Kurdish compatriots, for work, trade or meeting with relatives, go there and seeing the freedoms there had increased their hate of the Islamic Republic. I left Kurdistan a day before Nowruz and my friends informed me of the fact that more than tens of thousands of Iranian Kurdish people, particularly for Nowruz holiday came to Iraqi Kurdistan. Iranian people are thirsty to find a spot not far from their borders where they can find some freedom to dance and live comfortably, away from the guard and control of various repressions of the Islamic Republic. Anyways, all these, have influenced promoting awareness in Kurdish people.

AR- Do you find the model of autonomous regimes a good model for Kurdistan?

MH- This is a good model for Iraq. All models of federalism that are so far established in the world are essentially alike and Iraqi Kurdistan is one of them. It means that the Kurdish people within their geographical country have their local government which is responsible in running the country and establishing laws. They have a few ministers in the Iraqi parliament. We are trying to have the same kind of government in Iran but we believe that the way it should be done in Iran, will be depending on the political, social, and geographic situation otherwise the federalism is not much different.

AR- So you believe that your party is not seeking for a great Kurdistan but an Iranian Kurdistan in a federal regime?

MH- We have always had this policy since the beginning. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, has worked for a democratic Iran, where the rights of all minorities, religions and nationalities are generally respected and the discriminations in the Islamic Republic would disappear. We seek the same rights for our own people that we seek for all Iranians people and nationalities, neither more nor less.

AR- We remember that Doctor Ghassemlou with a positive approach on this issue tried to sit around the negotiation table with the Islamic Republic and as a result, he was killed along with his companions some 20 years ago. Did your party attempt to negotiate with the Islamic Republic in connection with your demands?

MH- After the martyrdom of Doctor Ghassemlou and Ghaderi, we never thought of negotiating with the Islamic Republic again.

AR- Do you think that with the existing conditions and the regime in Iran, the realization of a federal republic seem close?

MH- If you mean that as long as the Islamic Republic is there, my answer is no. Not only Federalism but also the most basic freedoms in the Islamic Republic is not possible. So, our programs is going to be possible after the collapse of this regime. We would like to cooperate with all Iranian countrymen, with all the different nations in Iran so after the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Iran, once again, no one could dominate others under another color or title and establish another kind of dictatorship.

AR- There are various groups in Iran who have different points of view on different issues. And federalism could be part of it. Have you attempted to get close to other Iranian ethnic groups? Because we have the southern Arabs, Baluchis and Turkmen in the East, and the Turks in the West. In fact, has your party done any efforts for integration with these ethnic groups?

MH- We have made many efforts in this case about five years ago, to set up a Representative Union of all Iranians nationalities, Arabs, Baluchis,Turks, and Turkmen. We still have this alliance and work together and our ultimate goal is to create a federal democratic Iran where all Iranian nationalities could, within their geographical countries, be able to manage its internal affairs without discrimination and be partner with other Iranian citizens to manage the country.

AR- I use the word ”ethnic groups” and you use the word ”nationalities”. Please explain what difference there is for you between ethnicity and nationality?

AR- My point is that even those who consider themselves as Persians are also ”People”. No one is totally Persian.
MH- We call them also a nation. A sum of nations that create the Iranian community.

AR- Sometimes when we interview Turk friends, some problems occur and they bring up the subject of being Persian or Turk. I do not know what being Persian means. Because we all have different ethnicities that constitute the Persian Community. But of course this is my personal opinion and the difference is hard for me to understand.

I know that your approach is not use of armed attacks, but if we assume that the path to achieve your goals fails, do you think you will be moving towards an armed clash?

MH- Predict the future is not easy, and today’s policy of the Kurdistan Democratic Party is that we reach our goals and desires through dialogue and discussions and we continue to do so. What the future will bring and what others will think, is another matter but I think this is the general tendency of Kurdish people and political organizations. I can not speak on their behalf but this is the approach our friends in other political organizations and Kurdish political movements in Iranian Kurdistan are committed to.

Of course this does not mean that between the Kurdish people or organizations there is no orientation toward the armed struggle, but just wanted to say that the general tendency and the prevailing debate is dialogue and social struggle.

AR- Your party have been split into the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and Kurdistan Democratic Party. What is the reason of this divergence?

MH- This is more about friends who separated from the Democratic Party and in fact this is a question they must answer, but generally speaking I should say that the reason of this divergence is in the lack of proper understanding of democracy.

We see this culture essentially in the East that when someone or a group comes to responsibility and power, he likes to continue and when with a democratic vote he loses his rights, it is no more tolerable for him. Unfortunately, this mentality is governing not only among the Kurdish organizations but in the East. We see government leaders and ruling political parties in East are usually lifelong. If people want to disarm them from the power, it leads to war and or separations.

AR- Do you think you may one day converge again?

MH- Why not. Social relations are changing every day. Misunderstandings and negative perceptions exist usually in communities. If they disappear, people are much more likely to converge, and I think we now go on this direction.

AR- Other Kurdish parties do not think like you. Their point of view on issues within the Federation and Iran may slightly be different. Do you agree on different views with other parties?

MH- Before there was much more controversy about it but what I know now, except for exceptional cases that are not really serious, intellectual orientation and political strategy in all rooted and important organizations is what I told you. It is possible that ways to achieve this be different for other organizations, but the ultimate goal of gaining political rights of the Kurdish people within Iran have been through the Federation, this is the motto for most of them.

AR- Some believe that struggles between you and the Komooleh party is in connection with this issue. Do you think this tensions are to the extent that you are not able to reach a common tendency in regards to federalism?

MH- In programs and policies announced by the groups who split from us so far I do not see anything  different from us but in the tactics and how to achieve this, there might be disagreement which does not matter that much. I think disagreement is not serious enough to worry about it.

AR- In June 2009, events happened that we all are familiar with. Some believe that this only concerns the center. It means that it started in Tehran and belongs to a group, tribe or nation and they do not feel belonging to it. Could you please explain the approach of your party and the Kurdish people regarding the elections in 2009?

MH- The fact is that every where in the world, particularly in eastern countries, capitals are important regarding the political changes. So if in Tehran a movement for change happens, it is not surprising. But what we, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan witnessed was that despite the fact that in this movement, different thoughts and ideas were involved, the well-known leadership of the movement was Mr. Mousavi and Mr. Karroubi. They announced a program and ever since they insisted on it. They want to give credibility to the Islamic Republic who has lost its international and domestic credibility and in the framework of the constitution – which in our point of view is the center and source of all conflicts and wrong policies in Iran- provide freedom and prosperity for the people.

They want to maintain Leadership and the constitution. We think that they do not think of changes in the Islamic Republic. So their program and ideas for people in general and for the Kurdistan Democratic Party in particular is not acceptable.

While we respect all different thoughts and activities that were under Green movement and in the second and third months got beyond the framework that Mr. Mousavi and Karroubi had set and wanted the collapse of the regime with slogans such as “Death to the dictator”. This part of the green movement, we support and we consider ourselves as part of them. Unfortunately, the Green movement outside the country is known with the name of these gentlemen. This part of the green movement in relation with the reform of the Islamic Republic has lost its efficiency and experience also showed that this regime is no more reformable. Other parts who are thinking of creating a secular democratic Iran have been strengthened.

This has been our tendency and we are working on it. This problem led to a general lack of support in different national regions in general and in Kurdistan also. Not only in Kurdistan but also other sectors and strata of society, including workers and teachers did not participate much in it.

AR- Recently, the Senior consultant of Mr. Karoubi said that they have even agreed to change the constitution. Do you think that if the approach of the Gentlemen, Mousavi  and Karoubi change, we can hope that Kurds, Turks and others are ready to support the Capital?

MH- The problem is that every movement, or revolution that is created in Iran should be firm and say what they specifically want. If they want to change the constitution, what kind of change they are going to do? They should be clear. What Mr. Mousavi and Karroubi announce today that they are leaders and with people and they are not at the same time.

In our opinion and vision, only a movement that has an indomitable strong democratic goal led by a progressive Democratic and strong leadership can go on and reach its final demands. If they say they  want to change the constitution, what do they want to do? Do they believe in a secular state? Want democracy? They should be clear with the Iranian people. Then we can judge and say if we welcome these changes or not. But if they say a phrase without explanation, not only for our Democratic Party but for the Iranian people it would not be acceptable.

AR- How serious do you think is the threat for Iran to be divided in parts?

MH- Honestly, I do not see any danger. The only danger is all the illusions created about it and I think that the Islamic Republic has just created these illusions to scare people and create gaps between the opposition. Unfortunately some of our fellow citizens, despite the democracy they claim are repeating this, but no one asks who wants separation. They say that the Kurdish political groups are separatists. We have a constitution, historical background, if an organization is separatist, so they announce it. We have such groups among the Kurdish but they are neither serious nor too many. Among other Iranian nationalities, there are also groups that are separatists and they declare themselves. If the problem is international and the Islamic Republic is attacking Americans and Israel, so far in none of the statements or speeches in Americans and Israeli officials, they have talked about breaking down Iran.  To quote you, the Persians, they have made a ”nasty giant” to scare people with it, nobody has thought of parsing Iran.

Those who really want to part Iran who bring up these kind of idea to bring contradictions into existence, they separate Sunni and Shiite, Muslims and non-Muslim or Persian and Kurds, all these separations are caused by the Islamic Republic. With discriminations that they create in terms of economic prosperity and freedom, in fact they think of parsing Iran. There is no separatist force in Iran neither in the world who wants to part Iran.

AR- Considering the events of nearly two years ago, what is your assessment of Islamic Republic inside and in the International relations?

MH- I think the Islamic Republic in these two years has been in a such situation that they have not been facing during its entire existence. In terms of crises inside Iran, such as political, economic crises, social differences within the regime and the regime’s inability to solve simple problems and people problems, they have never been so incapable. And in terms of the international relations, the Islamic Republic of Iran had never been in such isolation before.

AR- My last question is about Abdol Rahman Ghassemlou. He has been assassinated nearly two decades ago. Given that many adequate information about those who were responsible in connection with his assassination exist, but still there is nothing clear about this case. What is the reason?

MH- The case of Doctor Ghassemlou was more of a political case rather a legal case. His assassination and his murderers are clear. Those who were sitting with him at the meeting murdered him, but the Austrian government because of the big commercial interests they had with Iran, just closed the case. We tried hard to bring this case up elsewhere, but unfortunately we did not succeed. It is not possible to reopen the file of Doctor Ghassemlou because still European countries and America think about compromise with the regime more than helping Iranian people to change this regime. So, none of these countries is ready to cooperate in this regard. That is why this case is closed and hopefully one day arrive when this case will be considered in a fair trial. As the Mykonos case exposed the Islamic Republic more and accused the leaders of the regime, this case also shows the real face of these people one day.

AR- Mr. Mostafa Hedjri, the Secretary General of the Democratic Party of the Iranian Kurdistan, thank you from this interview with Radio Koocheh.
MH- I thank you for this opportunity


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