Iran’s Government Not Respecting the Kurds

12/11/2018 4:42:54 PM

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Hawreh Haddadi
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There have been many documentaries and history books written about Iran and its unfortunate and totalitarian ways. The West has had a difficult time keeping up to the many political and religious outbursts Iran has gone through.  To many, Iran and Iranians have become synonyms to Persia and Persians, simply, combining and mixing thousands of years of culture and heritage, from other minority groups, and assuming they are all the same. Today, nearly forty years of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s reign has wobbled on and it’s clear that the situation for the Kurds and other minorities is in Iran, is quite hellish.

Living in U.S. since I was an infant made America as the only home I knew. Individualism, freedom of speech, equality, and diversity were all basic rights I had been raised with and accustomed to. Though one day, my family decided to visit Iran again and that’s where I saw, first hand, my people being treated like secondary citizens. Visiting Iran in 2010 was an eye-opening experience and unfortunately became my final trip to Iran. Publishing, “Finding Kurdistan: A Kurdish Iranian Americans Journey Home” was guaranteed to get me locked up for life and who knows what else, if I visited back. My book not only shows the experiences I went through as Kurdish-American, but it also goes into detail how life is like for ordinary Iranian-Kurds.

It became clear that nobody could insult or even criticize government officials in Iran. This is true for all minorities, but in particularly, the Kurds because of their continuous and long history of disproval of the central government in Tehran. Nobody wanted to be tortured or public humiliated for speaking freely. Political conversations were heavily censored and muted unless it favored the Ayatollahs of course.

Women were definitely treated far worse than men. For one, they were required to cover themselves with a Hijab or chador. There wasn’t any way of getting out of it, unless you lived in your room and never stepped out of your house. Very rarely would you ever see a women at night. It just wasn’t save for them to be wondering out alone and the government has failed in shifting culture to respect both genders, instead of, further separating them by religious decree. It was also shameful to see that most women didn’t work. It’s not that they didn’t want to, instead, resources and funding were not in place to give them equal access to the economy.

There were many surprising and shocking events that I witnessed while visiting Iran. I was very disappointed in the lack of diversity, both in cultural and religious appreciation. For example, the Kurds in Iran are required to speak in Persian (Farsi) and have very little resources of learning and maintaining their native tongue. How can a culture sustain itself if you’re banned from learning about your own heritage? Religious minorities are being washed out. I didn’t see any other religious group freely worship, instead only Islam. Previously, Iran was a country that allowed religious freedoms. Now, even Sunni Muslims are targeted by Iranian officials, especially when Shia Muslims control much of the government and are not interested in diverse perspectives.

Diversity can work and it has. America is the most diverse country on the face of the earth. People from all walks of life come and live in the United States and are protected to live freely and openly. You can worship however, or choose not to, wear whatever you like, speak in any language you desire and can definitely let the president know how you truly feel.

I hope that the government of Iran reads my book and takes a minute to look in the mirror. It’s never too late to change, but history will not kindly judge those who continue to promote hatred and falsehoods. America and the West is where Iran should be looking to for assistance, not further insulting them and calling them the ‘”Great Satan.”

With that being said, I hope more people will stand up to bullies and help minorities who continue to suffer. America is a mighty nation and one where billions of people respect. Education and conversing among each other is critical to bringing change. The ultimate goal in publishing my book is to continue the conversation that has started years ago and giving the Kurds more attention and awareness. They are no different than Americans, Israelis or any other human being. We want to live freely and be respected.