Kurds in Iran Wary About Restart of Armed Conflict by PJAK

By Nasir Piroti – RUDAW – 19-11-2013 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Kurdish activists and political leaders in Iran warn that a threat by the underground Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) to resume armed conflict with Tehran will not be in the interests of the country’s large Kurdish minority.

“A Kalashnikov does not beget democracy and if armed struggle resumes in Kurdish areas then the hardliners (in Tehran) would have every excuse to militarize Iranian Kurdistan,” said Jalal Jelilizade, former representative for Kurdistan Province in the Iranian parliament. He stressed the importance of avoiding conflict and advised the Iranian government and the Kurdish parties not to provide pretexts for people interested in resuming armed conflict. PJAK, which is affiliated with the militant Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey, is the only Kurdish group in Iran still engaged in armed conflict for Kurdish rights.

The group said it had been considering a ceasefire with Tehran, but had given up on the idea after two of its members, Habibulla Gulparipour and Raza Ismaili, were executed in prison last month. Another political prisoner, Sherko Maarifi, was hanged shortly after. Following the executions, PJAK announced that “the time of ceasefire has ended.” It warned it would reconsider reactivating its military wing.

Following the first two executions of the PJAK members, the group’s guerrillas clashed with Iranian guards in Urumiyeh province, with both sides blaming the other of starting the fight. Hasil Dasa, political activist and former representative of Sardasht and Piranshahr in the Iranian parliament, told Rudaw: “We have not achieved anything through armed conflict so far. The Kurds need to abandon the use of military force permanently and seek political and civil ways.”

He said that since the June election of President Hassan Rouhani, “through peaceful ways and negotiation we have tried to encourage the Iranian government to pay more attention to solving the Kurdish case.”“Seeking violent ways will not serve the political and civilian process,” he argued.

Jelilizade emphasized that political solutions and dialogue are the only ways to solve differences. He acknowledged that the Iranian government has not convincingly responded to Kurdish demands, but said this should not push the parties to resume conflict. PJAK was established in 2003 on the anniversary of PKK leader Abdulla Ocalan’s birthday. Its  military activities started in 2005 with an attack on a military base of the Iranian Revolutionary  Guards.PJAK has been in ceasefire with Iran since 2011 after heavy clashes between the Kurdish fighters and Iranian army.

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