Speech of Mr. Abdullah Mohtadi, Secretary General of the Komala Party in United Kingdom parliament

Tuesday, 07 June 2011 10:08

Let me begin by expressing my thanks to the organisers of this meeting, especially my dear friend Jeremy Corbyn, the host of this meeting, for his continuous support of the Kurds

and for the cause of democracy and human rights in a region where both are truly needed, and also his outstanding and dedicated staff. I should also thank my dear friend and tireless activist for the Kurdish cause Mr. Ihsan Qadir.

Indeed it is very timely to have a conference on the Kurdish issue. As you all know, the Kurdish issue is one of the major unresolved political questions in the Middle East. Take the Iranian Kurds as an example.

With a population of roughly ten million people, spreading across at least four provinces in North and North-western Iran, they are still deprived of their basic human rights. They do not have the slightest resemblance of a self-rule, they are denied education in their mother tongue, investment in development projects is very rare, Kurdish students are constantly and disproportionately rejected into higher education by the notorious ‘selection’ process, they have been denied access to high positions in government for the last three decades of the Islamic regime, they are subject to the harshest violations of human rights and the most brutal state violence.

However, what should be stressed is that despite this the Kurdish movement has remained a democratic, secular, and pluralist movement and has not succumbed to extremism, fundamentalism or terrorism and blind violence. In fact the Kurdish movement has been a vital component of any democratic movement in the country and in the region.

Kurds in Iran have long fought for democratic change. Staging a highly successful general strike in all Kurdish towns last May highlighted the significant role of Kurds in the recent mass democratic movement. The death of a young Kurdish student in the recent upsurge of the mass demonstrations in Tehran a couple of weeks ago also ignited widespread protests all over the country.

The role that the Kurds can play becomes more important when we put it against the backdrop of the recent democratic upheaval in the Middle East. At a time when the whole region is striving for democracy, Kurds should not be neglected once more. Kurds themselves should also learn lessons from the past. That is why we are for a Kurdish front in Iran that allows for the cooperation of all political parties. We are also for the constructive engagement and partaking of the Kurds in a broad democratic coalition in Iran providing their basic rights are acknowledged.

The idea of a non-centralist federal state structure in Iran and an end to discriminatory laws and patterns of government is what mainstream Kurdish politics demand. Acknowledgement of the legitimate aspirations of the Kurds and other minorities in Iran and safeguarding their rights should find its way into any future constitution of the country.

Let it be known that the existing Iranian constitution does not have the capacity or the potential to become a vehicle of democratic change. It is imbued with medieval notions of the divine rule of the clergy, eternalising a certain branch of Islam as its official religion, blocking any meaningful change through a labyrinth of bodies and mechanisms such as the guardian council, expediency council and assembly of experts, with the unelected all-powerful supreme leader at the top.

The constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran is especially and clearly discriminatory against national, ethnic and religious minorities and against women. What we need is a new constitution based on universal democratic values and human rights derived from the realities and diverse needs of the Iranian society. The idea of a democratic federal state in Iran is no longer unthinkable; it is gaining more and more support among the political elite in Iran.

Let me finish by saying that we all agree that in Iran, as in every society, change should come from within. Now that it has come, we rightfully expect the full support of the international community for the democratic change in Iran and for the fulfilment of the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people. And let’s not make a taboo of regime change in Iran. There is no reason why we should support change in Egypt or Tunisia, but hesitate to do so when it comes to Iran. The disillusionment with the whole system is huge and it seems that Iranian society is now ready for structural change. What we ask for is not military intervention, rather, full moral and political support for a noble cause
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