Taghi Rahmani Interview: Pressure on the Ethnic Nationalities is Dangerous
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?
TR: 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eight death sentences passed on for Hiyoova Bootimar and Adnan Hassanpour – even though two are in the process of being rescinded.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?
TR: 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?
TR: 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?
TR: 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.