Plight of Iranian Kurds little known in
the west: Komala leader
Abdullah Muhtadi, the leader of Komala, a leftist
Iranian Kurdish organization.
SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', —
A few hundred meters from Zrgwez village in
Sulaimaniyah province, a young woman wearing a man’s
outfit opens the door to the headquarters of Komala,
a leftist Iranian Kurdish organization where we met
Abdullah Muhtadi, secretary general of Komala, or
the Revolutionary Society of Iranian Kurdistan’s
Komala has fought the Iranian regime for decades,
demanding Kurdish rights.
Muhtadi recently embarked on a trip to several
Western capitals, including Washington, Stockholm
and Amsterdam. It was his first trip in six years.
“We set up a representation office in the United
States. We wanted to have active representation
there to get in touch with other parties, be they
Americans or other Kurdish or Iranian opposition
groups,” Muhtadi told Rudaw.
Muhtadi says the plight of Iranian Kurds has not
received the attention it deserves from Western
“It doesn’t have the voice that it should and has
not been able to communicate its demands to the
outside world,” says Muhtadi. “As part of our
efforts, we try to get that voice heard by the U.S.
administration, Congress and public opinion.”
He added that the U.S. does not have a “Kurdish
policy” and deals with Kurds only as part of Turkey,
Iran, Iraq and Syria.
“In each of these countries, Kurds have become a
factor for the U.S. to pay attention to and deal
with and sometimes even support. But in general,
they don’t have a Kurdish policy in the Middle
East,” says Muhtadi.
Komala is considered one of the major Iranian
Kurdish organizations, along with the Kurdistan
Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).
The head of Komala says Kurdish groups have “strong
relations” with the Iranian opposition. Several
armed Iranian Kurdish opposition groups are based in
Iraqi Kurdistan. But with the exception of the Party
for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), other parties
have not had any recent significant military clashes
with Iranian troops.
Muhtadi says his party does not receive any
assistance from the U.S.
“I am not aware if they are giving assistance to
other Kurdish parties,” he added.
The Komala leader says that, during his visit to the
U.S., he asked the American government to launch a
Kurdish language television channel. The U.S. has
launched a Persian language channel,www.ekurd.net
called Persian News Network, which is part of Voice
of America. Muhtadi says other Kurdish parties need
to join the effort to persuade the U.S. government
to launch a Kurdish channel.
Muhtadi also urges Iranian Kurdish opposition
parties to form a united front, especially now that
the region is at a crucial historical juncture.
If Kurdish parties are not ready to form a broad
front, he says, they should at least try to “agree
on a platform that includes a number of points for
now and the future.”
Explaining why Komala and most other major Kurdish
parties boycotted the recent parliamentary elections
in Iran, Muhtadi says there is no room for
democratic participation in Iran.
However, he acknowledges that personal rivalries
drew a considerable number of people to the polls,
especially in provincial areas.
Muhtadi says his party would like to be allowed to
legally work and run in Iranian elections as the
pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy party (BDP) has been
allowed to do in Turkey.
“This is not possible in Iran,” he says. “We’d like
it if Iran would allow that. If that possibility
existed, we’d have certainly seized it.”
Muhtadi believes despite all the violence it has
used, Turkey is closer to democracy and more open to
these sorts of things than Iran.
After disputed presidential elections in 2009 saw
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad resume office, many
Iranians took to the streets protesting alleged
fraud and vote rigging. But the Kurdish areas of
Iran remained mostly calm and did not join the
so-called Green Movement.
Muhtadi says the Green Movement’s platform was “not
very clear and did not include anything that would
Moreover, he believes, Kurds were afraid of the
government’s excessive use of force. There was no
consensus among Kurdish parties as to whether take
part in the protests or not. Muhtadi argues that if
Kurds had participated in the protest movement, they
would have “benefited greatly.”
“It was a sensitive time and the world media was
watching Iran. Kurdish participation in the protests
would have shown that the Iranian movement was not
only the Green Movement, and that the Kurdish
movement was part of it.”
He says because Kurds make up only about 12 percent
of the population of Iran, they “cannot change Iran
By Adnan Hussein
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