• Short Summary

    About 200-thousand Iranian Kurds have attended a mass rally in the Kurdish political centre of Mahabad.

  • Description

    About 200-thousand Iranian Kurds have attended a mass rally in the Kurdish political centre of Mahabad. They are urging the Government to clarify its stand towards their demand for autonomy within a Federal Iran.

    SYNOPSIS: Thirty-two years ago this town of Mahabad was declared a Kurdish republic. As a republic it was short-lived, with the Iranian Kurdish activists going almost completely underground during the latter part of the Shah of Iran's rule. Now the revolution in Iran has revived hope among the Kurds that the new rulers will permit a centuries old ambition to come true -- autonomy. Kurdish religious leaders in Mahabad have presented a series of demands to the Ayatollah Khomeiny.

    Mahabad is a small town in the heart of Kurdistan, not far from the Iraq border. But the Iranian Kurds are not just an Iranian issue. The ancient Kurdish frontiers stretch far into modern day Iraq, Syria, Turkey and the Soviet Union. All four governments have an interest in how Teheran handles the Kurdish demands.

    Since the change of government in Iran the Kurds have had the advantage. Iran's new Assistant Prime Minister Amir Entezam reported late last month (February) that Iranian troops in Mahabad had fled their barracks which are now occupied by local people. Mr. Entezam said at the time negotiations were underway to persuade occupiers to leave peacefully. But latest reports indicate the occupation continues, despite a Government delegation to Mahabad.

    This week (3 March. 1979), the Kurds went on the march to back their claims for autonomy. Two hundred thousands rallied in Mahabad, the first public display of the revival of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. THE K.D.P.'s message is clear -- they demanded autonomy within Iran, not succession.

    But the Kurds' real leadership is not political, but religious. Sheikh Essedine Hosseini has recently emerged as the spokesman for Kurdistan. He is emphatic about what he wants for the Kurds...a self-governed province within the framework of an Iranian nation.

    Sheikh Hosseini has wide support from the Kurds. The Kurdish Revolutionary Council names the 57-year-old Moslem Sheikh as the only man authorised to negotiate on their behalf.

    There are reports that the fight for home rule for the Kurds might be just as difficult under the Ayatollah Khomeiny as it has been under the Shah. The regular one and half-hour Kurdish language radio broadcasts have now ceased.

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