Just days after videos went viral of Peshmerga from an armed Kurdish force openly walking through Iranian cities carrying weapons and the Kurdistan flag during Newroz celebrations, the families of Peshmerga fighters have been harassed by Iranian authorities, according to the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).

Families of Peshmerga in the city of Urmia in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province were “attacked by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) intelligence [branch]. Despite checking their houses and work places, they were threatened that they would never let them see the light of day again,” KDPI media reported on Wednesday.

“In the past few days in many Kurdistan cities, Peshmerga families have been called in for questioning and were threatened,” the report added.

Video footage shared earlier this week by the KDPI’s official Twitter account showed several Peshmerga fighters armed with AK-47s joining in Newroz celebrations in the city of Baneh in Iran’s Kurdistan province and Oshnavieh in West Azerbaijan province.

A senior KDPI official condemned the pressure put on the families of the Peshmerga.

“We condemn this act of the Islamic Republic of Iran and call on human rights organizations and peace-loving countries to not be silent on this matter, for the Kurds will not be silent and these acts will not end well for the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Kawa Bahrami, head of the KDPI’s Peshmerga command, told Rudaw English on Thursday.

The KDPI is a Kurdish party that has waged an on-and-off armed war against the Iranian government since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. It is based in the Kurdistan Region in areas Iran has occasionally shelled on the pretense of targeting the group.

Bahrami said the Peshmerga are always there in Kurdish cities in Iran and denied their presence creates a risk for the local population.

“The people of Kurdistan clearly know that the regime is looking for excuses [to act] against the Kurdish people. The people of Kurdistan are eager for the Peshmerga presence. They have never opposed our presence in the cities,” he said.

“If you look at the videos, you can see that people were warmly welcoming the Peshmerga. This is a matter of struggle and, historically, struggles always have sacrifices. The Islamic Republic will not give the rights of the Kurds through peace or as charity, therefore we need this struggle,” he added.

In the past week, Iranian security forces have carried out a series of arrests of Kurds who participated in celebrations for Newroz.

“There have so far been ten reports of arrests with names and details, five of them in Oshnavieh, four in Mariwan, and one in Sanandaj,” Arsalan Yarahmedi, director of Hengaw Human Rights Organization, told Rudaw English on Thursday. “There are also reports of the arrest of nine people in Saqqez, but it has not been confirmed yet.”

Newroz, the new year that coincides with the spring equinox, is celebrated in both Kurdish and Persian cultures, but Kurds are targeted for arrests during the holiday because their events often include political messages.

“It is only in the Kurdish areas that Newroz is political and people use Kurdish nationalist symbols, chanting political chants, and singing nationalistic songs,” said Yarahmedi, adding that some of those arrested had waved KDPI flags during Newroz events.

Source » rudaw