Action memorandum 017

Aug. 9, 1996

FDI condemns Iranian attacks on Kurdish civilians, calls for UNaction

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran condemns the recent attacksby troops of the Islamic Republic Guards Corps against IranianKurdish refugee camps in the town of Koy-sandjak in Iraq. As a resultof these attacks, which began on July 27, some 400 homes have beendestroyed and 1,500 Kurdish refugees were forced to evacuate thecamps. Because of the heat, two refugee women have died in front of aUN office in Irbil, where they had been staging a sit-in.

The Islamic Republic justified its move into Iraq on the principalof "hot pursuit," following an alleged attack inside Iran by Kurdishguerrillas based in Iraq on July 28 . However, the Iranian troopscrossed the border two days prior to the alleged attack. Furthermore,they concentrated their attack against refugee camps, not militarytargets, in a clear violation of the Geneva Convention of 1949 andthe United Nations Resolution on Human Rights of December 19, 1968,which states:


"(b) That it is prohibited to launch attacks against the civilianpopulations as such;

(c) That distinction must be made at all times between personstaking part in the hostilities and members of the civilian populationto the effect that the latter be spared as much as possible."


The Foundation for Democracy in Iran has received credible reportsthat to back up these military operations, the Islamic Republic'sMinistry of Information and Security (VAJA) has been pursuing asinister campaign of violence and intimidation against IranianKurdish civilians, both inside Iran and in northern Iraq, in furtherviolation of international law.

This campaign, aimed at sympathizers of the Kurdish DemocraticParty of Iran (KDPI), has intensified in recent weeks and includesterrorist attacks against Kurdish civilians, mine-laying operations,and intelligence gathering.

The following incidents were originally reported by the KDPI andhave been confirmed with Iraqi Kurdish sources and by theFoundation's sources inside Iran:

• On Sunday, April 21, Iranian agents driving a Red CrescentSociety ambulance attacked an Iranian Kurdish refugee camp in theBainjan region of Sulaymaniah province in Iraqi Kurdistan. Oneassailant, captured by camp guards, acknowledged that the attackershad been dispatched by the VAJA office in Kermanshah (IranianKurdistan) to carry out terrorist activities against Iranianrefugees. and that they had crossed the border under cover of the RedCrescent Society's relief aid programs. Subsequent to this attack,VAJA has established new Red Crescent Society offices in northernIraq for the purpose of intelligence gathering and to provide coverfor violent attacks against refugees. This constitutes aninadmissible violation of the status of a recognized humanitarianorganization.

• On July 10, Iranian agents exploded a car-bomb near ahousing complex in Koy-Sandjak, the main concentration of KDPIrefugee camps in northern Iraq. Made suspicious by the car's licenseplate, KDPI guards evacuated the area before the explosion. Thisconstitutes an inadmissible attack against a civilian population.

Since the Iranian incursion on July 26-30, the KDPI has reportedfirearms attacks against Party offices in Irbil, armed ambushes ofParty vehicles traveling between near refugee camps in Koy-Sandjak,and the kidnapping and murder of civilians.

Similarly, numerous harassment operations have been carried outagainst civilians inside Iranian Kurdistan, aimed at preventingcollaboration with the KDPI. These include mass arrests, attacks oncivilians by military patrols, and the use of landmines in mountainpasses and civilian areas.

More ethnic cleansing?

There have also been reports of stepped up efforts by the Iranianauthorities to force Kurdish families to leave the region throughadministrative measures and property seizures.

Kurds complain that a lack of reconstruction funds from thecentral government has made it impossible to rebuild villagesdestroyed during the Iran-Iraq war or by Revolutionary Guards troopsin punitive operations. This has caused entire populations to move tocities in other parts of Iran.

An administrative ban on buying or building new houses in severalcities in Western Azerbaijan province, which is jointly inhabited bya Sunni Kurds and Shiite Azeris, is gradually tipping the ethnic mixof the Province. According to reliable reports, Kurds are frequentlybanned from restoring older or damaged houses, forcing them toabandon their property as it becomes unlivable. In the towns ofSalmas, Naghadeh, and Urmieh, dozens of families have had theirhouses and property confiscated by the authorities.

At the same time, the government has appropriated funds to buildnew Shiia Muslim mosques in several Kurdish towns, apparently toaccommodate a new population comprised of Shiias from other areas whohave come to replace Kurdish Sunni families. This has occurred mostnotably in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province, and in aKurdish neighborhood of Urmieh, a predominantly Azeri city in WestAzerbaijan province. A Shiia mosque was inaugurated in early June inSulaymaniah, Iraq, by Revolutionary Guards officer Mohammad DjafariSahraroudi, apparently in an effort to spread Shiism to the majoritySunni Kurds of Iraq.

The Foundation reported in March on similar taken against Sunnisin Iranian Balouchistan (see Action Memorandum No 8), and isconcerned that the authorities are attempting to marginalize theSunni Muslim minority and drive Sunnis away from sensitive borderregions.

These expulsions and discriminatory administrative measuresconstitute a form of ethnic cleansing and are clear violations ofinternational law.


Given these facts, the Foundation for Democracy in Iran calls:

1) on the Islamic Republic authorities to respect the politicaland human rights of all minorities in Iran, as guaranteed by theConstitution of 1906, by the Constitution of the Islamic Republic,and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abinding international treaty to which Iran is a signatory;

2) on the United Nations General Assembly to condemn the IslamicRepublic's clear violations of international law in its attacksagainst civilian populations.

The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private, non-profitcorporation registered in the State of Maryland. Contact: Kenneth R.Timmerman, Executive Director. Tel: (301) 946-2918. Fax: (301)942-5341. FDI materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at