Iranian Kurdish representative, Sharif Behruz testified before the Canadian Parliamentary Subcommittee on International Human Rights
Ottawa – An Iranian Kurdish representative from Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, Sharif Behruz appeared before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development of the Parliament of Canada to give a witness statement on the condition of human rights in Iran especially the rights of the national minorities, among them the Kurds of Iran.
Members of the Subcommittee present at this Subcommittee were Wayne Marston (NDP), Scott Reid (CPC), Mario Silva (Liberal), David Sweet (CPC) and Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac (BQ). Acting Members present were Francis Scarpaleggia for Hon. Irwin Cotler and John Weston for Russ Hiebert.
This meeting convened pursuant to Standing Order and the motion adopted by the Subcommittee on Tuesday, March 3, 2009, the Subcommittee continued its study of Human Rights in Iran. The meeting convened with the opening remarks by the honourable Scott Reid, the Subcommittee Chair.
Sharif Behruz, the US Representative of Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran opened his remarks by thanking the Committee for taking on such an important task of studying the human rights conditions in Iran under the Islamic Republic of Iran. He stated that “The people of Iran within the last three decades have witnessed the worst barbarism inflicted upon them by the Islamic regime in Iran. The international community especially the United Nations human rights body has condemned Iran’s treatment of it people more than 22 times within the last 30 years.”
Sharif Behruz went on to assert that Iran under the Islamic Republic has become very thwarting for majority of the population who belong to the national minorities such as Kurds, Azeris, Turkmens, Arabs and Baluchis. He elaborated on systematic human rights violation against Kurdish national minority in Iran and stated that “Kurds in Iran are deprived from one of the most fundamental right which is the right to practice their mother tongue in educational system.” Furthermore, he said that they have little or no access to educational resources even in the Persian language, and those who are lucky enough to complete their primary school will have to face the governmental screening system to be able to enrol in higher education or find employment un public and private sector.
Kurdish regions in Iran which consists of four provinces of West Azerbijan, Kurdistan, Kirmanshah and Ilam and are all to the west and north-west of Iran, according to his witness statement have been economically neglected, resulting in entrenched poverty and hopelessness which has in turn resulted in various psychological disorders. The eight year war with Iraq in the 1980s and the emergency rule in the Kurdish areas in the last 3 decades has resulted in extrajudicial killings, forced evictions and resettlements and destruction of homes and cities, he said.
In his speech, he pointed out to the deep-rooted discrimination in social sphere and affirmed that parents are banned from registering their babies with certain Kurdish names while Persian and Islamic names are suggested and forced upon parents. The use of the Kurdish language and other nationalities languages in education system are prohibited. Religious minorities that are mainly or partially Kurdish are targeted by measures designed to stigmatize and isolate them. The discriminatory ‘gozinesh’ or screening system – a selection procedure that requires prospective state officials, employees and students to demonstrate allegiance to Islam and the Islamic Republic of Iran – denies Kurds equality in employment, education and political participation.
In regards to abrupt human rights violation in Iranian Kurdistan, in his witness statement Sharif stated that “The deep-rooted discrimination against Kurds has given rise to generations of activists calling for greater respect for minorities and better protection of the human rights of all Iranians.” He also thanked the courageous activism of many Kurdish and Iranian activists such as Mohamad Sadiq Kaboudwand who is spending 11 years sentence for exposing the grave conditions of many Kurdish political prisoners in Iran who are deprived from all their rights and freedoms in Iranian prisons.
At the end, he reiterated the peaceful nature of Iranian nationalities efforts to bring about peace and democracy to Iran that can accommodate their rights within a democratic and federal Iran; however, Islamic Republic of Iran has always responded to these just and peaceful calls with violence. He called upon Canada and the international community to abide by their international commitment and “to not only continuously condemn these gross human rights violations but also take necessary measures to make sure that the government in Iran can only represent its people at the global stage if and only if it starts respecting its citizens’ rights and freedoms.”
The Committee members then asked questions and Mr. Behruz responded to their questions. You can refer to the minutes of the hearing for the entire questions asked and the answers provided.
Please follow this link to view Mr. Behruz’s full statement appearing before the Subcommittee on International Human Rights of Canada’s Parliament in English | French.
Also you can watch the English version of the hearing in full via webcast in English | French.