20/03/2012 09:14 GMT | Updated 19/05/2012 06:12 BST

Kurdish Politician Says, 'Iran is a Paranoid State'


Loghman H. Ahmedi, PDKI representative to the United Kingdom. Photo published with permission.

The Iranian government harbours grandiose ambitions of becoming an influential force in Middle East. It has become a paranoid state of fear, not only of foreign governments but national and religious communities within it. I spoke to Loghman Ahmedi, the democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan's representative to United Kingdom, he spoke in length about the Iranian government, and its treatment of ethnic groups, adding "Paranoia and expansionist ambitions, is the defining characteristic of the Islamic republic". In regard to Iranian government's treatment of ethnic groups, Ahmedi said,

Fundamentalist Islam nevertheless shapes the domestic and foreign policies of Iran. For example the regime's ideology rules out normalisation of relations with the United States and recognition of Israel's existence, it also dictates that only those Iranians who are Shiites believers could be included in the political system.

Ethnic groups in Iran

The Iranian constitution is inherently sexist, and sectarian, in that it only permits male followers of Shia Islam to become the president of the country. This means, women, secularists, Kurds and Sunnis are prohibited from becoming a president. The Iranian regime, according to Ahmedi uses "shame elections to claim popular legitimacy" and manipulates the international public opinion by fabricating an image of a legitimate and 'democratic' state. Ahmedi believes the Iranian population rejects the regime by large, and the only reason this regime continues to survive is through coercive and violent means. "A gigantic state apparatus - consisting of the Revolutionary Guards, the Basiji and a plethora of intelligence agencies - is the backbone of the regime", Ahmedi said.

Iran is a multinational and multi-religious country, with Kurds, Arabs, Azeri Turks, Balochis and Turkman national communities. These ethnic groups are discriminated against because of their religion and nationality. Ahmedi says there are arbitrary imprisonments, torture, rape and disappearances of activists. Kurdish female activists have been raped on numerous occasions prior to being executed. He said, the regime's interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia law is used to legitimise rape, torture and execution of political dissidents.

On numerous occasions, Kurdish female political activists have been raped before being executed. The religious justification for these cases of rape is that if a woman dies as a virgin, she will go to heaven. To make sure that female Kurdish political activists go to hell, they are raped in Iranian prisons.

Many Kurdish activists have been executed, and even threatened with rape. They are charged under a loosely defined principle which Iranian courts use 'Mohareb' (enmity against God) and Fesad fill-arz (spreading corruption on earth). This means, Kurdish political activists can be sentenced to death for distribution of pamphlets that promote Kurdish political parties.

Kurdish rights in Iran

Kurdish struggles for autonomy and self-governance in Iran has been ongoing for nearly 70 years. Ahmedi believes the suffering of Kurdish people has dramatically increased since the revolution in 1979. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini declared Jihad (holy war) on Kurdish people. Ahmedi pointed out, "Kurds in Iran are the only Muslim nation in the world with a Fatwa of Jihad issued against them". It is because of this Fatwa that tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish political activists have been killed.

Khomeini banned the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), despite winning the majority of votes in the first parliamentary elections in Iranian Kurdistan after the revolution. It was labeled as "the party of Satan". Ahmedi explained that their party opposed an Islamic constitution, and favoured a secular democratic constitution that granted Kurds autonomy within the borders of Iran.

Iranian agents have assassinated numerous activists within PDKI, including two leaders of PDKI on European soil. Ahmedi explained that Kurdish people are not the only ethnic group suffering but other groups have faced brutal discrimination under the regime.

Although the Kurdish people have been subjected to the worst kinds of oppression by this regime, the regime has, especially during the last ten years, increased its oppression against other nationalities in Iran. We have witnessed a more brutal oppression of the Arab Ahwazis, Balouchis, Azeri Turks and Turkomans during the past ten years. The main reason for this is that these nations are more openly demanding their political rights.

Ahmedi believes despite the current rhetoric espoused in favour of a war against Iran by some groups, war is not imminent. Change for Iranians must come within, and it is the responsibility of Iranians to bring change themselves, with the support of the international community.

The economic sanctions should be supplemented with the most effective sanctions of all: a relentless scrutiny of the regime's systematic violations of human rights and an unequivocal support for the universal right of Iranians to live in freedom. We believe that sooner or later, the international community will realize that only a democratic Iran at peace with itself can have peaceful and cooperative relations with the outside world.