The ongoing anti-government protests in Iran have received attention all over the world. But there is a deeper story that underlies the headlines – the story of Iran’s Kurdish ethnic minority. Historically, Kurds in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle-East have been subject to persecution. Jina Amini, the woman whose killing sparked Iran’s protests, was of Kurdish ethnicity. Since Kurds in Iran are not allowed to use their Kurdish name, Jina became more widely known by her state-sanctioned Persian name, Mahsa. As the state tries to suppress the protests, Iran’s Kurdish regions, which were the starting point of the protest, face grave danger. Conservative estimates by human rights organizations say that of the nearly 460 people killed by the end of 2022, over a quarter have been Kurdish.
In this video, we spoke to the Kurdish activists in New York to understand the Kurdish struggle and cover how they are supporting their community back home.
The main character in our story is Hejir, a Kurdish-Iranian from Saqqez, the same city Jina Amini was from. In the video, he talks about the economic and political inequality that cripples the Kurdish population in Iran. In his words, this is a revolution of the minorities.” As a student activist, Hejir was detained multiple times for challenging the regime’s treatment of Kurdish people. He was forced to flee Iran 11 years ago, when things became too dangerous. Today, he has political asylum in Norway.
This is the only American interview Hejir has ever done. As he himself stated, it may permanently destroy any chances he has of ever going back home. And yet, he chose to open up to us and share this powerful story.
About the author(s)
Anahita Sachdev is a multimedia journalist from India, currently pursuing her master's at the Columbia Journalism School.
Yuchen Li is a Chinese broadcast journalist with a passion for cross-cultural communication.