Iran: Burning the Kurdish forest to provide safety for its soldiers

The Iranian government has burnt down as many as 4,682 hectares of forest in the Kurdish region of Iran bordering Iraq in the past few months, says a senior leader of a militant Kurdish group.

 

Sherzad Kamangar of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan, known as PJAK, whose headquarters are based in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan, told Rudaw the fires were in the forests located around the cities of Mariwan, Sewlawe, Kosalan, Kelatarzan and Chacheme.

 

“There is an Iranian hand behind this,” says Sherzad Kamangar. “To provide safety for its soldiers, Iran wants to destroy Kurdistan’s nature.”

 

The guerrillas of the PJAK are believed to occasionally hide in these forests from where they launch attacks on the Iranian government forces to try to force Iran to grant more political and cultural rights to ethnic Kurds.

 

Kurds who number more than 5 million of Iran’s population have often been arrested and murdered for their political activism in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

 

While Iranian Persians are Shiite Muslims, the Iranian Kurds are overwhelmingly Sunni, a sect that has led them to be doubly discriminated against.

 

The Iranian forces have continuously bombed the mountainous regions of Iraq in pursuit of the PJAK fighters whose main hideouts are there, but the Iraqi authorities have turned a blind eye to this issue.

 

PJAK, which is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), is designated as a terrorist organization by Iran and the United States.

 

The Kurds are the largest ethnic group in the world without a state of their own. They mainly inhabit Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria.

 

Rights groups say the Kurds in Syria suffer the worst conditions of all Kurds, as about a hundred thousand of them have no citizenship and so are deprived of formal marriage, access to education and the ownership of property.

 

Burhan Nawprdani

December 5, 2010

Rudaw News

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