My short interview in the detailed and comprehensive report of The Independent، On the situation of refugees from East Kurdistan in the Kurdistan region, and the threats, obstacles, and challenges they face.I am intimately aware that my friend Winthrop Rodgers and his colleague Lizzie Porter have been working tirelessly on this report for over three months. I hope that this report will bring the plight of the forgotten asylum seekers of East Kurdistan to the international community and concerned parties.
Other Iranian Kurds in the Kurdistan Region have no connection with the opposition parties, but still feel Tehran’s influence on this side of the border. A journalist and human rights advocate, Mohammed Amini, 38, was forced to flee Iran in 2007 after receiving threats from the security forces, and settled in Sulaymaniyah.
“Here we are at risk. The security forces of Iran pressure us, threaten us, and [Iraqi] Kurdistan is not a safe place for us. When we go to a third country, we can live in a safe place,” he adds.
He does not have an Iranian passport, so his main form of identification is his UNHCR card. It is currently expired because the local UNHCR office suspended renewals during the Covid-19 pandemic and is only now slowly beginning to wade through the backlog. Like others, renewal of his residency permit is never guaranteed, mostly dependent on whether he can find stable work in a faltering economy.
“It’s really stressful. We’re stressed all the time,” he says. “We cannot go anywhere. We cannot register anything under our names. The future of our children here is not clear. We fear for their future.”
Many Iranian Kurdish asylum seekers say they feel abandoned. They see the relevant governments and international agencies as uninterested and unwilling to meet their responsibilities, either because of pressure from Tehran or bureaucratic inertia.