During the past few days, intelligence agencies of the Islamic government of Iran breached, once again, the sanctum of “The Word” and “The Pen” by raiding on the homes of writers, literary, and cultural activists in the oppressed but resistant city of Kermashan – located in the Eastern Kurdistan (Rojhelat) – and arrested some popular and reputable cultural figures of that region.
Ako Jalilian, the prominent Kurdish literary, researcher and lexicologist, who has devoted his lifetime-in-solitude, serving Kurdish language and culture, was arrested for the second time without any documentation. Along with him, a number of youths who had engaged in cultural activities and literary creations for many years without receiving any governmental support and only by the means of their own savings, and who have published some poetry and storybooks and a magazine in Kurdish language with minimum facilities, were arrested and sent into the disreputable detention centers of the Iranian government’s intelligence agencies.
Until the moment of writing this statement, the local news sources from Kermashan have confirmed the detention of at least ten literary and cultural activists, namely Khalil Asadi Bojani, Anissa Ja’fari-Mehr, Homayoun Abbasi, Farzad Safareh, Fuwad Mozaffari, Dariush Moradi, Sohrab Moradi, Mozaffar Watandoust, Sohbat Omidi, and Mohayoddin Asghari. They have also confirmed the intelligence agencies raiding into many more residences, indicating their intention for arresting more activists. The arrested people have committed no crime and their mere intention has been to serve the culture and language of their own city and homeland and thus their arrestment cannot be justified.
Indeed, during the four decades of its governance, the Islamic Republic has frequently repeated such actions and its is no secret that Iranian dynasts have never respected the sanctity of “The Pen” and cultural expressions. This, however, makes it all the more indispensable to condemn these lowbrow, primitive, and centralist behaviors of the government that does not tolerate the presence of cultural expressions in languages other than Persian. A dominant attitude that is does not only inform the government’s attitude towards non-Persian cultures and its censorship of non-Persian languages but also that of most of the centralist-nationalist opponents of the Islamic Republic and their media.
The arresting of these writers and literati is part of the government’s wider agenda for cultural and lingual assimilation of Kurdish people especially in “The Great Kermashan” region. To this end, the government has examined various ways from an absolute denial of the Kurdish identity, to the criminalization of activities related to Kurdish language and literacy. In addition to these, through dissociating certain dialects of Kurdish language, museumificating them in the form of “Intangible Heritage”, and denying the right of their native speakers to the education of those dialects, the government has even used the diversity of the dialects of Kurdish language as a means towards the generation of ethnic hatred and conflict among the Kurds. Having found all of such systematic efforts defeated, this time the government have used the terror atmosphere of the post-Aban massacre to kidnap and incarcerate writers and literati by dispatching armed gangsters to the residences.
The government, who is cramping the native cultures’ vital systematically, has most recently become the world’s record holder of censorship and political asphyxia with shutting down internet services in all parts of the country amidst the public massacre of its own population. It is, nevertheless, ironic that this national-religious fascist government, who squanders a generous budget on propaganda for its ideological apparatuses, is so frightened of a few pieces of poetry, few short stories, and a lexicon and meetings like poetry readings.
We, the signers of this statement, support the right of Kurdish people of Kermashan to education in their mother language and their right to writing, publishing, and creating literary and artistic works in Kurdish. We defend their independent and peaceful endeavors in claiming such rights and strongly condemn the lowbrow behavior of the regime, which has amalgamated the most primitive forms of censorship with the advanced ones. Writers, cultural activists, and literati of Kermashan have to be released immediately and unconditionally and their right to continue their literary and cultural activities freely and without any interdiction must be protected. The centralist media which censors these barbaric invasions news will be the disgraced ones of the history undoubtedly, and the agents and commanders will not find a better historical place than their predecessors.
Yarsan Cultural Association
Green Association of Kermashan
Kurdistan Human Rights Association
Kurdish Institute of Istanbul
Kurdish Institute of Stockholm
Cultural Institute of Eastern Kurdistan
Revolutionary Union of Kurdistan
A group of artists, writers and literary activists from Kermashan and Ilam