Iran Has Historical past of Persecuting Minorities: Would possibly This Change Now?

There have been greater than six months of nationwide protests in Iran. Nationwide unity has emerged amongst seemingly disparate teams: the younger and the outdated, ladies and men, and even rival ethnic teams. Terrified by this unprecedented wave of exercise, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), recognized in Iran because the Sepah, invaded the streets of many cities, cities, and even some villages in an try and clamp down on the unrest. Nonetheless, the atrocities have didn’t ship what the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Supreme Chief, Ayatollah Khamenei, has wished for: the entire crackdown of the protests. The scapegoating of peculiar Iranians for the miseries introduced upon by the corruption and mismanagement of Khamenei’s regime has didn’t work.

Between September 17, 2022, and January 23, 2023, Iranian safety forces killed 525 protesters throughout the nationwide protests in response to the homicide of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old girl who was taken into custody by Iran’s spiritual morality police in September final 12 months. Sham trials and unjust executions have begun, and, based on the newest figures, at the least 100 of those that have been arrested are in imminent hazard of execution. But the protests haven’t stopped.

The brand new wave of protests poses a severe problem to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s safety equipment. The distinctive unity that has emerged amongst Iranians is unparalleled. Actually, Iran is experiencing a unity that has not been seen because the 1979 revolution. Simultaneous protests in additional than 200 cities have exhausted safety forces. 

A Spontaneous Rebellion, Not a Minority Motion

This new rebellion has not been organized by any get together or group from overseas. It has occurred organically and is led by Iranians who reside within the nation. The regime falsely lays the blame on Kurdish “separatists” who obtain help from international companies and on opposition teams outlawed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Different non-Persian teams usually blamed embrace Arabs and the Baluch.

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Scapegoating non-Persians in Iran isn’t a brand new technique. The institution has achieved this for greater than 4 a long time in response to any kind of protest towards injustice, corruption, or incompetence within the authorities. This technique of scapegoating minorities has failed this time. The vast majority of Iranians don’t consider within the phony claims of the Islamic Republic strategists. Actually, the nationwide solidarity is so robust that Persians have been chanting Kurdish slogans. For instance, Jin, Jian, Azadi is translated into Farsi as Zan, Zendegi, Azadi, and it’s translated into English because the now-familiar “Girl, Life, Freedom.” As well as, Azeris have been chanting slogans supporting Kurdistan, and protests have taken place in Zahedan in solidarity with Kurdistan and vice versa. 

As protests intensify, the Islamic Republic of Iran accuses the Kurds of separatism. The parable that Kurds are accountable for Iran’s woes has been partially profitable for greater than 4 a long time. Persians, home or these in exile, don’t settle for the concept of a Kurdish state. Subsequently, it has been comparatively simple for the Islamic Republic to crack down on Kurds within the identify of “combating separatists” with out going through any criticism from the Persian opposition teams in or exterior the nation.

A Historical past of Kurdish Persecution

Iranian Kurds are primarily concentrated within the 4 northwestern and western provinces of Kurdistan, Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan, and Ilam. A bunch of Kurds have additionally settled round Quchan within the northeastern province of Khorasan. They’ve a historical past of rebelling towards Tehran. 

The earlier Iranian regime, led by Reza Shah after which his son Mohammad Reza Shah persecuted Iranian Kurds as effectively. In 1967, the Iranian army crushed a Kurdish rebellion and hanged six of the motion’s leaders, 5 of whom have been executed in Sanandaj, the capital of the Kurdistan province, one in all Iran’s majority-Kurdish provinces. 

You will need to word that the Shah’s Iran supported Kurds in Iraq to weaken their western neighbor. It even despatched two army models into Iraqi territories to assist Mustafa Barzani, one of many distinguished Iraqi Kurds who led quite a few insurgencies towards Baghdad, within the Sixties and Seventies for an impartial Kurdistan. Iran modified this coverage when Mohammad Reza Pahlavi struck the 1975 Algiers Settlement with Iraq. 

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This ended their dispute over the Shatt-al-Arab (Arvand Rud) border and Iran withdrew its help for Iraqi Kurds. After this, each international locations turned on the Kurds. Due to the Shah’s betrayal, Iranian Kurds took an energetic half within the 1979 revolution. They hoped for autonomy and a Kurdish parliament after the revolution.

Ayatollah Khomeini didn’t grant the Kurds any autonomy or self-rule. Actually, he crushed the Kurdish resistance brutally. Khomeini appointed Sadeq Khalkhali because the chief justice of Iran and despatched him to the Kurdish areas together with a convoy of executioners. He additionally despatched the army and the IRGC to crack down on the Kurds. Khalkhali sentenced lots of of Kurds to dying by firing squad in sham trials. The Kurdish Democratic Occasion of Iran (KDP-I) and Komele, a Marxist get together in Iranian Kurdistan, have been each outlawed. Nevertheless, resistance continued in Kurdistan’s mountains. 

Injustice, Particularly Financial, Fuels Minority Resentment

Usually, separatist actions amongst minorities are a results of injustice by the bulk. In Iran, each earlier than the 1979 revolution and after, minorities have been handled as second-class residents. They’ve been disadvantaged of elementary rights and primary sources. Regardless of being recognized for its wealthy range of various ethnicities reminiscent of Kurds, the Baluch, Arabs and Azeris, Iran’s solely official language is Persian. Which means youngsters in Kurdistan or Ahwaz are disadvantaged of learning of their mom tongue. 

This one-language coverage results in intense disregard of students with minority backgrounds. When the one official language is the language of the rulers, it results in a bitter environment among the many minorities. Different acts of persecution result in additional resentment and lots of of Iran’s minorities desperately need autonomy if not freedom from the iron grip of Tehran’s mullahs.

As is well-known, financial grievances usually trigger protests and revolutions. In Iran, poverty and unemployment are working excessive. Minorities are struggling probably the most. In line with the Chamber of Cooperatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the nationwide gross product of provinces of Sistan and Baluchistan, Kurdistan, and Ilam are among the many lowest in Iran. 

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Poverty and a excessive unemployment fee have pressured many Iranian Kurds into the minacious path of turning into a kolbar, a uniquely Kurdish phrase that actually interprets as a porter who carries items on his shoulders. These males threat their lives by carrying heavy a great deal of greater than 60 kilograms of products by way of mountainous donkey paths from Iraq into Iran whereas dodging bullets from the Iranian border patrols for a pittance. The mortality fee of the kolbar could be very excessive. In 2022, 290 have been killed or injured.

Different ethnic teams are struggling enormously as effectively. The Baluch who reside within the Sistan and Baluchistan province on the borders of Pakistan and Afghanistan lack financial alternatives, undergo from excessive unemployment charges and have low entry to schooling. Discriminatory insurance policies have pressured many into turning into soukhtbars, which is Farsi for gasoline porters. Throughout in the future alone on February 22, 2021, Iranian safety forces killed at the least 10 soukhtbars, together with a 17-year-old boy. 

It’s apparent that there’s a nice unity amongst Kurds, different ethnicities and the Persians throughout the present protests. Nevertheless, Kurds, Baluchs and Arabs have solely had bitter experiences with the central authorities in Tehran. Two Iranian regimes in a row have didn’t deal with non-majority ethnic teams with dignity and respect. Neither the Shahs nor the Ayatollahs have delivered a fair proportion of the pie to different ethnicities who reside distant from Tehran. This raises the crucial query: What would possibly a 3rd Iranian regime do to minorities? Will it proceed the despotic and discriminatory insurance policies of the earlier regimes? Or will minorities lastly get the autonomy, justice and respect they deserve?

[Erica Beinlich edited this piece.]

The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Honest Observer’s editorial coverage.