Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan

Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan

Infobox militant organization
name = Party for Free Life in Kurdistan
Partîya Jîyana Azadîya Kurdistanê, (PJAK)

caption =
dates =
leader = Haji Ahmadi
motives = To establish semiautonomous regional entities or Kurdish federal states in Iran, Turkey and Syria similar to the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq. [ [ Shelling Near Iranian Border Is Forcing Iraqi Kurds to Flee - ] ]
area = Iraq and Iran
ideology = Apoism
Kurdish nationalism
Federal Democracy
status =
strength= 3,000

The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (Kurdish: [] "Partîya Jîyana Azad a Kurdistanê" or پارتی ژیانی ئازادی کوردستان ) or PJAK is a militant Kurdish nationalist group based in northern Iraq (southern Kurdistan [ Tehran faces growing Kurdish opposition] , James Brandon, The Washington Times, April 3, 2006] ) that has been carrying out attacks in the Kurdistan Province of Iran and other Kurdish-inhabited areas. [ [ ] ]

PJAK is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Confederation (Koma Civakên Kurdistan or KCK), which is an alliance of outlawed Kurdish groups and divisions lead by an elected Executive Council. The PKK, described as a terrorist organization internationally by a number of states and supranational organizations, including the USA, NATO and the EU,cite web|url=|title=Foreign Terrorist Organizations List|publisher=United States Department of State|accessdate=2007-08-03 - USSD Foreign Terrorist Organization] cite web|url=|title=Council Decision|publisher=Council of the European Union|accessdate=2007-08-14] is also a member of KCK. [ [ Kurdish Info - The PKK and PJAK fighters of Qendil ] ] . [ [ BBC NEWS | Europe | Kurdish rebels kill Turkey troops ] ] A recent New York Times article stated that PJAK and PKK "appear to a large extent to be one and the same, and share the same goal: fighting campaigns to win new autonomy and rights for Kurds in Iran and Turkey. They share leadership, logistics and allegiance to Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK leader currently imprisoned on
İmralı. [ [ In Iraq, Conflict Simmers on a 2nd Kurdish Front - New York Times ] ]

Policies and structure

The present leader of the organisation is Haji Ahmadi. According to the Washington Times, half the members of PJAK are women, many of them still in their teens, and one of the female members of the leadership council is Gulistan Dugan, a psychology graduate from the University of Tehran. This is due primarily to the fact that PJAK is strongly supportive of women's rights. PJAK believes that women must have a strong role in government and must be on an equal level with men in leadership positions. [ [ Meet the Kurdish guerrillas who want to topple the Tehran regime. - By Graeme Wood - Slate Magazine ] ]

PJAK is a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Confederation (KCK). A number of Kurdish groups and divisions fall under the KCK umbrella, which is lead by an elected executive committee. The KCK is in charge of a number of decisions under the movement, and often, release press statements on behalf of its members. PJAK also has sub-divisions. PJAK's armed-wing has been named by the organization as the Eastern Kurdistan Forces (Hêzên Rojhilata Kurdistan or HRK). PJAK also has a women's branch, dedicated to serving women's interests within the group and women interests in general, called Yerjerika. [ [ İran karakoluna saldırıyı HRK üstlendi ] ]

Like the present PKK goals in Turkey, PJAK leaders say their long-term goals are to establish an autonomous Kurdish region within the Iranian state. [ [ Shelling Near Iranian Border Is Forcing Iraqi Kurds to Flee - ] ] It is mainly focused on replacing Iran's theocracy with a democratic and federal government, where self-rule is granted to all ethnic minorities of Iran, including Arabs, Azeris, and Kurds. [ [ Iran's Kurdish Threat: PJAK ] ]

Armed conflict and arrests

PJAK killed 24 members of Iranian security forces on the 3rd of April 2006 in retaliation for the killing of 10 Kurds demonstrating in Maku by Iranian security forces. On April 10th, 2006, seven PJAK members were arrested in Iran, on suspicion that they had killed three Iranian security force personnel. Istanbul's Cihan News Agency claims that over 120 members of the Iranian security forces were killed by PJAK during 2005. [ Iran Arrests 7 PKK Terrorists] , April 10, 2006, Cihan News Agency/]

PJAK set off a bomb on 8 May 2006 in Kermanshah, wounding five people at a government building. [ [ The militant Kurds of Iran - Jane's Security News ] ]

As early as mid-2006, the Iranian security forces have confronted PJAK guerillas in many different occasions along the border inside Iran. Since then, the US news channel MSNBC claims that the Iranian military has begun bombardments of Kurdish villages in US-occupied Iraq along the Iranian border while claiming that their primary targets have been PJAK militants. A number of civilians have died. [ [ Trouble on the Iran-Iraq Border - Newsweek: World News - ] ] PJAK claims its guerillas fight inside Iran, and in August 2007, managed to destroy an Iranian military helicopter that was conducting a forward operation of bombardment by Iranian forces. [ [ PJAK helikopter düşürdü ] ]

Relation to United States government and military structures

PJAK is close to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).On April 18, 2006, US Congressman Dennis Kucinich sent a letter to US president George W. Bush in which he expressed his judgment that the US is likely to be supporting and coordinating PJAK, since PJAK operates and is based in Iraqi territory, which is under the control of the U.S. supported Kurdistan Regional Government. [ Kucinich Questions The President On US Trained Insurgents In Iran: Sends Letter To President Bush] , Dennis Kucinich, April 18, 2006]

In November 2006, journalist Seymour Hersh writing in "The New Yorker", supported this claim, stating that the US military and the Israelis are giving the group equipment, training, and targeting information in order to create internal pressures in Iran.cite news|first=Seymour M.|last=Hersh|pages=|title=The Next Act|date=November 20, 2006|publisher=The New Yorker|url=|accessdate=2006-11-19]

This is denied officially by both the US and PJAK. In an interview with Slate magazine in June 2006, when PJAK spokesman Ihsan Warya was paraphrased as stating that he "nevertheless points out that PJAK really does wish it were an agent of the United States, and that [PJAK is] disappointed that Washington hasn't made contact." The Slate article continues stating that the PJAK wishes to be supported by and work with the United States in overthrowing the government of Iran in a similar way to the US eventually cooperated with Kurdish organisations in Iraq in overthrowing the government of Iraq during the most recent Iraq war.cite news|first=Graeme|last=Wood|pages=|title=Iran Bombs Iraq: Meet the Kurdish guerrillas who want to topple the Tehran regime|date=June 12, 2006|publisher=Microsoft|url=|accessdate=2006-12-02]

In August 2007, the leader of PJAK visited Washington, DC in order to seek more open support from the US both politically and militarily [ [ Kurdish leader seeks U.S. help to topple regime - - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper ] ] but it was later said that he only made limited contacts with officials in Washington. [ [ Trouble on the Iran-Iraq Border - Newsweek: World News - ] ] One of the top officials in the PKK made a statement in late 2006, that "If the US is interested in PJAK, then it has to be interested in the PKK as well" referring to the alliance between the two groups and their memberships in the Kurdistan Democratic Confederation (KCK). [ [ The Daily Star - Politics - PKK commander says Washington 'has contact' with Kurdish rebels fighting Iran ] ]

ee also

* Kurdistan Workers Party
* Abdullah Öcalan
* Kurdish people
* Iranian Kurdistan


External links

* [ PJAK website] (in Persian, Sorani and English)
* [ Extract from article about Kurdish Iranian militants] 28 June 2006

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