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Abdullah Mohtadi: Iran has engaged in murder campaign against Kurds

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Iran’s religious leadership is orchestrating a campaign of killings and arrests in Kurd provinces as it seeks to prevent pro-democracy protests from spreading to the country’s ethnic minorities, an Iranian Kurd leader has said.

In an interview with The Times, Abdullah Mohtadi, secretary general of the Komala Party, said Tehran had ordered a security crackdown that had brought renewed oppression to Kurd areas in the wake of protests against last year’s contested presidential election.

 http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article2605871.ece

Adam Sage, Paris Iran’s religious leadership is orchestrating a campaign of killings and arrests in Kurd provinces as it seeks to prevent pro-democracy protests from spreading to the country’sethnic minorities, an Iranian Kurd leader has said.

In an interview with The Times, Abdullah Mohtadi, secretary general of the Komala Party, said Tehran had ordered a security crackdown that had brought renewed oppression to Kurd areas in the wake of protests against last year’s contested presidential election.

He also accused Britain and other Western governments of turning their backs on the plight of the country’s Kurdish population, estimated at five million by the US authorities and up to 12 million by Mr Mohtadi. ”We need everything, but we get nothing,” he said.

About 35 million Kurds live in Turkey, Iraq and Syria, as well as Iran, where Mr Mohtadi said they faced a long history of discrimination, harassment and violence.

The interview took place in Paris a day after Tehran had announced the capture of Abdolmalek Rigi, the leader of Jundallah, the Sunni militant group responsible for a series of attacks on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Mr Mohtadi said that he, too, was being hunted.

With Iran’s regime desperate to stop the Green movement sparking rebellion among the minorities that constitute almost half the population, he said intelligence agents would be prepared to capture or kill him anywhere in the world, including Europe. “There are many people like me who really are in danger.”

Unable to operate in Iran, his party has based itself in Iraq, where it has several hundred peshmergas, or armed fighters. Mr Mohtadi said their presence was necessary to prevent assassination attempts on Komala’s leadership, but insisted that his party had abandoned violent action in favour of political strategies in Iran.

It has a television station, which is regularly blocked by the Iranian authorities, and a newspaper, which is smuggled across the border to promote calls for a democratic, decentralised political system in Iran. But anyone caught reading the newspaper is almost certain to be summoned by Iranian secret services and detained, said Mr Mohtadi.

”No kind of political activity is authorised” and retaliation for breaches of the law was ”very rapid and very harsh”. Mr Mohtadi said Tehran had always treated Kurds ”like enemies and looked at the Kurdish people only from a security point of view.”

Now the repression had been stepped up. ”They are arresting more people, threatening more of them, harassing more of them, calling more of them to the intelligence services. There are more clandestine killings going on as well.”

He said more than 30 Kurds had been placed on death row, mostly for civil activism. Farzad Kamangar, 32, a teacher, had his sentence commuted to 30 years in prison this week following an international campaign to save him.

On the anniversary of the Iranian revolution this month, Mr Mohtadi said so many military vehicles were sent to Kurdish provinces ”that it was like being in an occupied country. There was an unofficial curfew imposed and helicopters flying over all the main cities.”

The show of strength was designed to nip a Kurdish protest movement in the bud ”because they know that from the moment that happens, it will be difficult to contain,” said Mr Mohtadi.

Nevertheless, there are signs of armed uprising in Iran’s Kurdish provinces. Earlier this month, for instance, Tehran said it had killed four members of a Komala splinter group which it blamed for taking the lives of three policemen in December. This week, the Iranian authorities said

Tuesday, 07 June 2011

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