A Rise in Nationalism in Eastern Kurdistan PDF Print E-mail

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – In the southern parts of Iranian Kurdistan, nationalist sentiments are on the rise.

These parts extend across eight provinces, with a population of around 7 million people. Kurds of this area are Shia Muslims and speak Kalhuri, Lori and Lak dialects.



The borders of this region start at the city of Kamyaran in Sanandaj province and stretch to the Persian Gulf in Buhsahir province. Historians, among them Hamdullah Mustafa, author of Nazhat al-Qulub, consider the Lor part of the Kurdish nation.


Due to the suppressive policies of successive Iranian governments in the past, there has always been a political disconnect between the Kurds of this region and the rest of Iranian Kurdistan. However, national sentiments have recently grown among the Lors. The formation of an armed group called the Partisans of Southern Kurdistan is emblematic of this shift. Gulmurad Muradi, a writer and researcher in Kermanshah province, thinks lack of political freedom in Iran is the cause of this new militant group.



“Iranian authorities have left no space for any civil or political activities and activists have had no choice but to try every available path in order to gain their rights,” said Muradi. At the same time, Muradi believes the time for armed struggle has passed. “The age of armed struggle has ended,” he said. “It gives the Iranian authorities the excuse to openly suppress Kurdish activists and turn the region into a military zone under the pretext of fighting terrorism.”


Arsalan Ahmed, a political activist from Kermanshah, has a different view.


“In my opinion, armed struggle can attract more brave people to the civil struggle; armed struggle supports the civil struggle, after all,” said Ahmed.


Shaho Nadiri, a journalist in Kermanshah, says that Kurds in these areas haven’t been aware of their Kurdish identity, but this is changing now.


“Unfortunately, speaking Farsi in Kermanshah and the southern region has become the norm, but now there is a reverse attitude towards Kurdish culture and more people are showing interest in the language and national cause,” says Nadiri.


Wahid Kemali, a resident of the area, says he is a Lor Kurd and accepts no other identity.


“We are now witnessing a positive change in these regions and Kurdish nationalism is slowly emerging. National demands have grown here,” he says.


“This can generate new momentum for Kurdish parties in Iran and create enthusiasm for the political struggle of Kurds in these regions,” adds Kemali, describing the benefits of the recent changes.


According to Muradi, information technology and the media have influenced the level of Kurdish awareness in the south, leading to an increase in national ambitions. Nadiri says that 70 percent of Kurdish economic resources and manpower are located within this part of Iran. “The key to success for any Kurdish movement in Iran lies in the south of the Kurdish region. History has proven that the support of the south leads to the success of any movement,” says Nadiri.Nadiri says that up until recently there was a misunderstanding of Kurdish identity in the Lor areas of Iran.


“We need to redefine Kurdish nationalism in a new and scientific way so as to include the Kurds of the south as well,” he adds. People in this area think that mainstream Kurdish parties have ignored the potential of the Lor Kurds. Kemali says that the Kurdish political struggle should include the Lors.


“They need to start fresh struggles in those regions and must incorporate people of that region in the lines of their parties, especially now when the people there are eager for national rights,” he says. For his part, Nadiri blames Iranian Kurdish parties for not giving any important roles to Kurds of the southern regions. Najmaddin Gulparwar, a senior leader of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, admitted to a lack of attention to the southern region by Kurdish parties.“Now, due to the dilution of ethnic ideology and the strengthening of nationalist sentiment, it has become easier for Kurdish parties to operate in the south,” he said. “Komala is planning to become very active in the area and allocate a key post within its ranks to that region.” Recently, many intellectual civil and political Kurds from the south have joined our party, said Gulparwar.




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