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Taghi Rahmani Interview: Pressure on the Ethnic Nationalities is Dangerous

5.6.2009, - 13.9.2008

As pressures on Kurdish, Baluchi, and other sub-national groups in Iran increase, Rooz ‎spoke with activist and writer Taghi Rahmani on the subject. Rahmani believes that the ‎sentences that the Kurdish activists are receiving from the courts are unlawful by the ‎legal standards of the Islamic republic. Read on for the details.‎

Rooz (R): Lately, pressure has increased on civil activists and institutions in the ‎provinces of Kurdistan and Baluchistan. What is going on?‎
Taghi Rahmani (TR):
Unfortunately, in recent years because of the pressures and ‎problems in areas such as Kurdistan, and also because of the deprivations and pressures, ‎the gap between the center and the periphery has widened. Other factors too have ‎exacerbated the situation. For example one should check out and see how many factories ‎exist in the province of Sistan and Baluchistan (near the border with Pakistan and ‎Afghanistan)? How many natives from this region are employed by the existing ‎manufacturing plants? How many new jobs have been created for them? The major ‎accomplishment of Kurdistan in recent years has been intra-border trade and of course ‎the superficial development of the towns. Dependance on activities that normally fall in ‎the realm of smuggling and do not include a clear organization work, cannot create hope ‎for the future. Many young Kurds have come to Tehran to work in the construction ‎industry. This distances the youths from their home regions, from their roots. Tehran still ‎lacks a mosque for the Sunnis. Sunnis cannot publicly call out their azan (call to prayer in ‎Islam) from the mosque tops in towns where they do not form the majority.‎

R: Has this pressures changed since the ninth administration came to office in 2005?‎
After the ninth administration came to power, a harsher attitude was adopted against ‎civil activists. The sentences that were passed on these activists included death and other ‎capital punishment. An example is the heavy sentence that was passed on to ‎Kaboodvand. Another example is the eight death sentences passed on for Hiyoova ‎Bootimar and Adnan Hassanpour – even though two are in the process of being ‎rescinded.‎

R: What do you think is the consequence of such convictions on the region?‎
TR: A form of hardline radicalism will impose itself over the region. A kind of blind ‎radicalism. It is the same as any where else in the world. Wherever a military atmosphere ‎takes over, neighboring regions too become militaristic and the military comes to power.‎

R: Why do you think pressure on the minorities has increased?‎
All these pressures are to prevent the spread of civil institutions. These pressures are ‎to prevent the strengthening of civil society in Iran. Oppression of Iranian ethnic groups, ‎particularly the Turks, Kurds and the Baluchis which have intensified since about three ‎years ago are primarily for the crackdown of the civil society. And this has been taking ‎place while most of the demands are negotiable.‎

R: Does the opportunity for a dialog disappear when such suppression and crackdown is ‎practiced?‎
A more dangerous situation is that when there is no possibility for a dialog, each side ‎only speaks out its view point, and does it very loudly. And when this happens, each side ‎begins to believe that there is no other side, or party. Under these circumstances, the more ‎powerful group, which in this case is always the central government, imposes its view. ‎On the weaker side, only the ideals remain, while the views of the more powerful party ‎prevail. But the way to solve this is to hold a dialog. During negotiations, a compromise ‎is the logical outcome.‎

R: What are the roles of political and civil groups under these circumstances?‎
Support for the ethnic groups at the center is good, but not sufficient. It must take a ‎faster pace. It must be stressed that everybody in Iran must enjoy equal rights. That the ‎pressure that is applied on the ethnic groups is dangerous. Groups and individuals must ‎protest to this pressure. This opens the way for talks between ethnic groups.

pro dialog