photo: Eddy van Wessel


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Kurdish families caught between Iran and the US

Why are members of an Iranian Kurdish resistance group based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan being targeted by Iranian missiles? And what can the West do to help? Judit Neurink reports from Koya.

The damage at the KDPI head quarters in Koya   PHOTO Judit Neurink
"We are very much afraid it will happen again. There is no war going on here, and we did not deserve this. We'd like to go somewhere else, especially as I lost my husband. What kind of life is this?"

In her black mourning dress, Iran Rasulzadeh, 45, sits on the floor of her living room in the family camp of the Iranian Kurdish resistance group KDPI (Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran). Apart from the carpet, the room in the small single-story house is empty. Rasulzadeh is mourning her husband, Mam Shawkawt, who was killed recently when Iranian missiles struck the group's headquarters while he was on guard duty.

One morning in early September, seven 3.5 ton ballistic missiles flew over 70 kilometers (44 miles) from their launch site in Iran and hit a training field and a concrete fort just outside the sleepy Iraqi Kurdish town of Koya, killing 16 people and wounding 40. Both are used by the KDPI. The target was its central committee, which was holding a plenary meeting in the fort.

After the attack, Rasulzadeh could not locate her husband, who, at the age of 16, was imprisoned by the Iranian regime and had been a peshmerga fighter with the group for 36 years. She found him in the morgue. "I did not expect this to happen in a free country. His death is the consequence of us asking for our rights, and of the lack of support we receive here," she told DW.

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