In Iran, the Kurds, the first victims of repression

Autonomous Kurdistan in northern Iraq is becoming a haven for Iranians fleeing repression from the regime in Tehran.

Wanted by the Iranian secret service, protester Zana (a pseudonym chosen for security reasons) left his hometown in northwestern Iran in early December 2022. Since then, this Iranian Kurd 25-year-old lives in an empty room in a carpentry on the outskirts of Erbil, the capital of autonomous Kurdistan.

In the room where Zana and Diako live on the outskirts of Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, on January 24, 2023.

His crime? Revolted by the death of the Iranian of Kurdish origin Mahsa (Jina) Amini after her police custody in Tehran for an “ill-worn” veil, on September 16, 2022, Zana took to the streets with her friends shouting “Woman, life, freedom”which has become the rallying cry of the uprising that is crossing the country.

On his mobile phone, the young man kept only a few photos of his life in Iran. In one of the shots from the end of September 2022, Zana is seated next to his best friend, Diako (a pseudonym too). Zana smiles and Diako, looking happy, looks in front of him. The two men, neatly groomed, wear traditional Kurdish baggy trousers with belts. Zana holds two crutches in her left hand. “There, we were at my cousin’s wedding ceremonyhe explains, sitting on a worn carpet. An hour later, the secret services came down to my house to arrest me. »

Diako, 25, Autonomous Kurdistan of Iraq, January 24, 2023. He left Iran in early January for fear of being arrested for participating in the protests.

While searching Zana’s home, officers found bandages and medication. “So they were sure that I had taken part in demonstrations and that I had been injured there”, slips the young man with a frail physique. The day before, in a rally, he had been hit in the right leg by a tear gas capsule fired from very close. At the request of his mother, a neighbor had called him to warn him of the danger. He therefore left to hide in an Iranian village near the border with Iraq, while he treated his wound. Forty-five days later, he left on foot, with the help of smugglers, for Iraqi Kurdistan. Diako, also wanted by the Iranian intelligence services, followed suit three weeks later.

Blows and psychological pressure

The fate of these young people, like that of the other people encountered by The worldtestifies to the ferocious repression applied by the Islamic Republic against its opponents, particularly in the Kurdish regions.

So far, at least 488 civilians have been killed in connection with the protests. Four were hanged and a dozen others risk the same fate. The streets of the country are now calm but the Iranian justice, fearing the resurgence of the protest, multiplies the heavy sentences against the demonstrators. In autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan, where they can relatively easily obtain a residence permit, the number of Iranians who have found refuge is impossible to assess.

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source site-29