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KURDISTAN IRAN

Hajji Ahmadi: PJAK fights for a confederal Iran

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Hajji AhmadiBorn in 1941 in a village near Mahabad, in Kurdistan Iran, Rahman Hajji Ahmadi has been a militant Kurd all his life. Taking an active part in the renovation of the KDPI (Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran) in the late sixties with Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, he became an adviser of the central committee of KDPI during the early 1980s before leaving the party in 1986.

After nearly 20 years in exile in Germany, today he is back in Kurdistan, struggling again for Kurdish rights against the central government in Tehran. Elected secretary general of the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK) at its first congress in april 2004, he talks in this rare interview about the aims and methods of a party which is often being accused of being a mere offshoot of PKK

Q : Isn't PJAK just another Kurdish political organisation ?

We are different to the others. We were founded by Kurdish intelllectuals and students living in Iran and in Europe after long preparation. With a strong women participation, we are a party of young people, mostly under 40.

Q : What are the strategic aims of PJAK ?

We are fighting for a confederal and democratic Iran, allowing all the different ethnic groups getting their rights and for a secular confederal Kurdistan with gender equality and freedom of religion and culture.

combattants kurdesQ : How do you plan to achieve these goals ?

We achieve them in three ways: political and ideological struggle, whilst mobilising all the potential forces of the opposition around a common platform. We do not believe in the classical armed struggle of national liberation movements. Our main activity is to mobilize people politically. But since there is no possibility of acting freely, we are obliged to resort to self-defence. Our guerillas talk to the people in the villages. If they are attacked, obviously they have to defend themslves, but this is not to achieve military gains. We are not in a position of attack. To make it clear, we do not believe in changing our situation by armed struggle.

Q : Do you have liberated areas ?

We have already a liberated area, in Qandil, on both the Iraqi and Iranian sides of the border. But it is not our aim to have liberated areas with cities. We are part of the people, and we want to live among the people.

Q : Do you have friends, allies ?

We are a new and young organisation… We have a platform to get friends, but it is not so easy. Those forces which are against the regime are our allies.

Q : What about KDPI and Komala ?

There is no more KDPI and Komala as before. These parties have split, there are several organisations with the same name. One branch of KDPI wants to have contacts with us. Komala has also split in several organisations, we have contacts with them.

Q : What about other forces ?

During our second congress (10-20 May 2006) we decided we wanted to establish good relations with all forces of the Iranian opposition, with the Arabs, the Beloutchs, the Azeris, etc

Q : What are your relations with PKK ?

We are two sister organisations, but we are active in different areas, Turkey (PKK) and Iran (PJAK). But the governments of Turkey and Iran carry out joint operations against us.

Q : Some people claim PJAK is just another name for PKK

We are an independent organisation, we have our program, we decide on our tactics ans our strategy. And our strategy is different from PKK’s. The PKK wants Kurdish identity to be recognised in the constitution, we want a democratic Iran, with a confederal and free Kurdistan. We are leading a struggle to change the political structure in Iran

soldats iraniensQ : How is your military activity organised ? Do you refer to your fighters as peshmergas ?

PJAK is led by a " majlis " of 21 members, a " coordination " of 11 members, and a secretary general. We have divided Iranian Kurdistan in three parts, North, Central and South, each one has its own small groups of commandos. We call our forces guerillas, not peshmergas. They are different. They are 100% professional soldiers, who do not take any salary or have a civil life with wives and children. They live in the mountain, carrying out different activities, conducting propaganda exercises in the villages. The number of our guerillas is secret, we are an underground organisation. About 35 % of our guerillas are women, and we have eight women in our 21 member " majlis ".

Q : How are your relations with PUK and KDP (the two main Iraqi Kurdish political parties)?

What was achieved in Iraqi Kurdistan — a Kurdish parliament, a Kurdish government -- does not belong to KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), but to the Kurdish national movement. We have no contacts with PUK and KDP, although we don’t want to create problems for them. They have their political and economic relations with Turkey and Iran.

Q : And what about your relations with the Americans ? There are a lot of rumours about your travel to the US…

I went to the US to get in touch with the various organisations of the Iranian opposition. I had no contact with the American government. The rumours are simply propaganda by the Iranian government to isolate PJAK from the other forces of the opposition.

Q : But if the Americans wanted to contact you ?

We are in favor of all relations based on the interest of the Kurdish people and the Iranian opposition.

But the Americans have no programme for Iran. They do not know what to do. One day, they want to attack, the next day, they dont want to attack but they talk of fostering an " Orange revolution ". They have no relations with the Iranian opposition. But whatever relations we have with the US, we will not change our position towards the regime, we will continue to oppose it. Our aim is to achieve our people’s cultural and political rights.

Q : Why PKK relations with Iran have deteriorated ?

Currently, relations between Iran and Turkey are good, and it has had an impact on the so-called "Kurdish problem". Their joint cooperation is built on the Kurdish issue. Why ? The fact there is a Kurdish government in Iraqi Kurdistan raises big fears in Syria, Turkey and Iran and expains their alliance.

(The Middle East magazine, August/September 2008)

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