First in peace instead of
next in war
Build a Persian alliance that opens free dialogue,
acknowledges past mistakes, and apologizes to all minorities
of Persian governments who have denied their rights
June 1, 2005
Some well-intentioned but probably not so well
informed Persian friends have criticized Kurdish ethnocentricity.
They argue that all Iranian ethnic groups are under equal oppression
and that the
Kurds are being taken advantage of to fight others. The argument
seems to be reasonable, yet it ignores the fact that Kurds are
under dual oppression.
It is no secret that the central governments
in Baghdad, Damascus, Ankara, and Tehran have been abusive toward
most of their citizens in general and sabotaged any Kurdish progress
toward freedom in particular. Thanks to changes in world
politics, it's likely this oppression will not continue for long.
Soon the creation of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq
becomes inevitable. With this hope alive, I would like to explain
behind Kurdish ethnocentricity at this stage.
Kurds have proven many times that they are against no other nations
but for all of them in many aspects. Regarding Persians, those
Kurds who have learned the language of Ferdosi, Hafez, Khayyam,
Shamloo, and Dawlatabadi must be a fool not to appreciate the beauty
and power of the Persian language. But although Kurdish is an
Indo-Iranian language, rarely a Persian bothers to learn Kurdish
the works of Ehmede Xani, Goran, Mawlawi Tawgozi, Shirko Bekkas
They could argue that Kurdish is not appealing to them and that
they would rather learn Arabic, the main language spoken in the
Middle Esat. However, why should the Kurds themselves be denied
own language at school? Usually if one goes to a foreign land,
he or she will respect its people and attempts to learn their
language. Why should the Kurds in their homeland learn the language
who are sent by central governments to tell them what to do?
In order to make the Kurdish scenario more understandable to
our Persian friends, I try to look at their own scenario. Like
other Middle Eastern ethnic groups, Persians have inhabited Iranian
plateau for millennia and have much in common with them. Most Persians
are not fanatics but tolerant people.
Like Israelis and Kurds,
Persians have been the targets of hatred
by other extremists in the region. It's been said that Saddam
once blamed god for making the mistake of creating "flies, Jews,
Yet despite the way they have been treated,
Persians have integrated Arabic culture
life and many of them consider Islam to be the
answer to their spiritual well being.
Like their original spiritual leader,
Zardosht, many Persians are flexible in seeking knowledge about
various aspects of truth; like doubters or agnostics of all nations,
Persians question the validity of any ideology as absolute truth,
yet they acknowledge that the noble side of all religions serve
And finally like other progressive people, many Persians
do not approve of the violent behavior of their emperors and
ayatollahs and prefer a secular and democratic state that guarantees
and justice for all!
Yet, Persian governments have done much harm to all Iranians.
Changing Persia’s name to Iran in early 1930s sounded pluralistic;
however, the goal was not to promote tolerance and equality but
to marginalize or eliminate the minorities. Thus Persian identity
was also diluted and almost lost. This loss as well as an expedited
but oppressive modernization
plan were among the causes of the Iranian revolution in 1979.
hopefuls expected that with the revolution, justice would finally
prevail. But soon they became disappointed. The country became
Islam. Uncivilized approaches to problem-solving became law.
Some found the sign of their god’s representative
on the moon, while martyrdom, hostage taking, and exporting revolution
brought the promise of earthly
and heavenly rewards. Imprisonment and torture intensified. Threats,
terror, and assassination of free minds became routine; this
malignancy became a competitive adventure in the region and
spread to the rest of the world until few countries after 9/11
decided to make an effort to stop it.
Meanwhile many Persians seem to have regretted the chaotic uprising
of the late 1970s when their hopes of moving one step forward ended
up in reverse with a few steps backward. Some have even become
supporters of the “Great
Satan” and the American use force because extremists
in the Middle East understand violence as a method of conflict
Persians are rightfully worried that if the method of force by
the West were extended to Iran in the name of eliminating potential
nuclear threats, what would happen to their loved ones? This is
a legitimate universal worry and deserves the attention of those
who are fortunate enough to be in free societies.
With this in mind, I suggest that each
Iranian ethnic group build its own national alliance and recognizes
the other groups' legitimate rights. Since Persians have been the
most politically fortunate among Iranians, they should pioneer
the building of a Persian alliance that opens free dialogue,
acknowledges past mistakes, and apologizes to all minorities
of their Persian governments who have denied their rights.
In order to make their country first in making peace and
not next in continuing war, Persians must now think about a greater
future for all. They must learn from self actualized intellectuals
such as Turkish sociologist Dr. Ismail Besikci, Arab law Professor
Dr. Munther Al-Fadul, and American federal administrative judge
Ralph Fertig who support the right of self determination for all
people, including Kurds.
Such a sympathetic and progressive approach
Persians might create a culture of trust in Iran and in the Middle
East. It might motivate all Iranian minorities to take an active
role in determining their destiny first and vote for a voluntary
interdependent federative union in the future. It might create
an atmosphere for the rich Persian heritage to be revitalized
and become complimentary to the richness of other ancient
in the Middle East and around the world. It might stimulate creation
of one or a few Persian republics among other Iranian republics.
It might create a healthy competition among other countries
to end their pathological race of eliminating each other.
All this might
convince the civilized world that Middle Eastern nations
have reached a developmental level comparable to some Europeans,
such as Czechs and Slovaks. It might create an atmosphere for people
in the Middle East to appreciate the sacrifices of the
forces and perhaps welcome them to stay as their guests in
the region, or gracefully, with hugs and flowers, accompany them
the airport to return to their families back at home.
Kamal H. Artin, MD, is a member of:
- Kurdish American Education Society
- Kurdish National Congress of North America
- Kurdistan Referendum Movement