Video: In Iran, real change will come from grassroots movements, not sanctions

September 28, 2022

Kurdish people, and particularly women, in Iran have been living under double pressure for the last two years as the Islamist regime in the country has ramped up its aggression, said Nilüfer Koç, spokesperson for the Commission on Foreign Relations of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK).

“The killing and torturing of Jina (Amini) was the last drop, which has caused the cup to overflow,” said Koç in a podcast with Matt Broomfield on Medya News’ podcast, Kurdistan Connection, on September 24. Koç was referring to the death of a 22-year old Kurdish woman, Jina (Mahsa) Amini, in Iran last week that led to country-wide protests.

Amini died in hospital after a three-day coma which, according to her family, was as a result of the violence she suffered when she was arrested by the morality police for not wearing her hijab properly during a visit to Tehran.

As a reaction against Western pressure the Iranian regime has got involved in many conflict zones in the Middle East and North Africa, said Koç. “As such, Iran wants to keep the country silent, because most of its budget is used for its military. Domestically, this means putting pressure on people who are asking for more civil liberties,” she said.

As a result, the Iranian government has been following a deliberate policy to silence Kurds, the main group calling for more civil liberties in Iran’s multi-ethnic society, said Koç.

“In the last two years, we have seen that particularly the pressure on Kurdish people has been increasing,” she continued, adding that the Islamist government is pursuing a double strategy against the Kurds.

The regime uses economic means on the one hand to curb agricultural production in the region, while punishing Kurdish activists through executions, according to the KNK spokesperson.

“The whole dynamic of the Kurdish society in Iran is particularly led by women,” Koç emphasised, adding that this situation led to increased aggression of the country’s morality police against Kurdish women.

Koç underlined that the Kurdish women in Iran had also learned from the experiences of their sisters in Syria and Turkey, where Kurdish groups follow a policy of democratic struggle based on women’s liberation.

“Democratic transition will not come through sanctions used by UN or US because Iran is already under sanctions,” she said, adding that real change will come from grassroots movements.

The recent uprisings in Iran have a higher chance of achieving democratic change in the country compared to the Arab Spring a decade ago, according to Koç, since the Kurds are organised sufficiently to lead progressive forces.

Ethnic and religious groups in Iran are rejecting the regime’s homogenisation strategy, she said, explaining that the demands of those groups make a democratic change within the existing borders of the country inevitable.

“Wherever you look, all the nation states in the Middle East, including Iran, they are in the process of collapsing. Homogenisation strategy does not work anymore. We can see it particularly in the Kurdish struggle for self-determination in Iraq, in Syria and in Turkey. None of those states is able to silence the Kurds anymore,” Koç said.

[Abridged from Medya News. Watch the full Kuridstan Connection/Medya News interview here.]

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