Iran’s exiled Kurdish opposition groups have jointly called on Kurdish voters to boycott upcoming general elections in the country describing the May elections as “a masquerade” staged by “a regime that has deprived the human and just rights” of the people in Iran’s Kurdistan.
The six leading opposition groups based in Kurdistan Region, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (HDK), the Kurdistan Communist Party (Komele), the Kurdistan Communist Party-Iran (Shorishger), the Kurdistan Struggle Orgniztaion (Xebat), the Kurdistan Democratic Party-Iran (HDKA) and the Iranian Kurdistan Communist Organisation said in a joint statement that the boycott of elections “is a way to prevent further oppression and crackdown through elections.”
“We call on all the people of Eastern Kurdistan (Iran) to boycott the May 19 elections as a consistent reaction to the continued violation of their rights,” the groups stated in a written statement Thursday.
“By not participating in this masquerade, you will deliver a clear message to the world about your will and unity against a regime that continues to violate your human and just rights,” the statement said.
Election campaigns for the post of the country’s presidency and city councils kicked off last week with the incumbent President Hasan Rouhani leading the so-called moderate camp against the conservative hardliners including Ebrahim Raisi, a potential successor to Iran’s supreme leader and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Kurdish voters overwhelmingly voted for Rouhani in the 2013 elections whose campaign promises included recognition of broader Kurdish cultural and educational rights. But critics have slammed Rouhani’s administration over the past years for what they have described as a continuation of state-sponsored discrimination against Kurdish population in the country.
“We think that the boycott will eventually impact the elections given the fact that almost all opposition parties in Iran have also called on their supporters for a boycott,” said Ibrahim Alizade, Secretary General of the Komele after reading the statement at a joint press conference in Sulaimani.
With nearly 10 million Kurds living mostly in the western and northwestern parts of the country, Iran is home to the second largest population of Kurds after Turkey.
The governates of West Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Kermanshah and Ilam are the four largest provinces with predominantly Kurdish inhabitants.
Kermanshah province, with a population of 1 million, has repeatedly topped the list of the least developed provinces in the country, according government data.