Sunday, April 16, 2006

Minorities fight back against oppressors in Teheran

James Brandon on Mt Qandil, on the Iran border and Colin Freeman, Telegraph UK


Sitting on the floor of a stone hut, deep in the mountains on the border between Iran and Iraq, the leaders of Pejak, a Kurdish Iranian militant group, outlined their plans to fight Teheran's hard-line Islamic government.

"The Iranian government's plan to create a global Islamic state is destroying our people's culture and -values," said Akif Zagros, 28, a Persian literature graduate who serves on Pejak's seven-strong ruling council. "But we want all nations to be democratic, to live together and learn from each other." Pejak, the Party for Freedom and Life in Kurdistan, is fast becoming a threat to Teheran. The group, founded in 1998, claims to have hundreds of thousands of followers among Iran's estimated four million Kurds, and has been denounced as a terrorist organisation by Teheran for carrying out attacks within the borders of the Islamic republic.

The Iranian regime has also accused the group of receiving American funding, a claim dismissed by the US. Pejak is believed to be linked to Turkey's outlawed Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK), which has been branded a terrorist organisation by Washington and the European Union. That would make funding illegal.

But according to reports last week, America is courting opposition movements among the numerous ethnic minority groups concentrated in Iran's border regions, many of which claim their languages and culture have been -systematically repressed by Teheran.

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