NEWS CENTER - At the entrance of Mahabad, a model of a fighter jet caught my eye on a pedestal because it was out of combat. While walking around the city, traces of the protests can be seen on every street. Although many people lost their lives as a result of the direct fire of the regime forces, the people are not backing down.
I'm on my way to Mahabad, which I know partly because I've visited twice before, and where I don't think I'll have any great difficulty. I listen to the taxi driver during my 140-kilometer journey. He talks about the protests in the country from time to time and brings the word to the cities of Rojhilat. The driver, who is also from the city of Neqede, located between the cities of Mahabad, Urmiye and Piranşehr, says that the people are in constant action in Mahabad, Bokan, Piranşehr, Seqiz and Sine. Sometimes his words affirming the actions and sometimes his sentences such as "the tourists do not come because of the protests" create the feeling of suspicion. So I pretend I don't know as much as possible. He says I can call him in case I need a car sometime and gives his phone number. He asks for my phone number as well. I say I couldn't get a phone line yet and I don't give my phone number.
LAKE URMIA LOOKS LIKE A FIELD
I can't take my eyes off the Urmia lake, which falls on my left during the journey and shatters the hearts with its dried look. The lake, which is the largest salt lake in the Middle East and the 6th largest in the world, resembles a fallow field due to the dams and wrong drilling works on all the streams feeding this lake.
There is a police post at the entrance of Mahabad. The driver says this police point is more of a smuggling check. After passing the point, at the entrance of the city, I see a model of a warplane placed on a pedestal because it was out of war.
I get off the taxi at the city's bus terminal and take another taxi to go to the city centre. I want him to take me to Charchira Square. Although the name of this square where Qazi Mihemed was executed was changed to the Islamic Republic Square, the people call it Çarçıra Square or Municipality Square. As I walk towards Molla Mosque Square on Taleqani Şerqî Street, a bank branch set on fire immediately catches my attention on the left. It is said that this branch of Refah Bank was set on fire during the protest demonstrations after Simko Mewlûdî's body was buried on 27 October. Some citizens also state that the bank was stoned by the demonstrators and then burned by the pasdars who opened fire on the people. There are still traces of bullets from that day in the shops in the passage just across the bank.
Sand peat on the roof of Bank Sepah, another bank near the bank that was burned, still shows its existence as proof that the armed forces stationed here opened fire on the people during the protest on October 27. On the same day, I learned that government offices were burned at several points in the city and that the people defended the young people who lost their lives. Another government office burned in Şapur Street and Sihhat Square, the destruction of the poles where the security cameras are located, shows the extent of the protests.
From the busy streets to the side streets, the words "Jin Jiyan Azadî", "Jîna Eminî" and "Death to the Dictator" can be seen everywhere. However, it seems that the regime forces are not sitting on their hands either. In the evening, the municipal employees, plainclothes police, with the paints in their hands, erase the graffitis, especially on the main streets.
THE DAY SİMKO WAS SHOT AND THE DAYS THAT FOLLOW
The protests that started on September 19 in Mahabad, right after the death of Jîna Eminî, became more and more massive. I am meeting with a group of young people who have been involved in the protests since day one to evaluate the last two months in the city.
Young people underline that the first protest in Mahabad started with 15-16 young people on Şapur Street on September 19, and that there has been an increase in the protests of young people since then, according to the increase in state violence: "The biggest and most participatory demonstration in Mahabad was the murder of Simko Mewlûdî. When Simko was martyred on October 26, his mother and brother had a call at the mosque and the people did not ignore the family's call that day.Iranian Intelligence forces threatened the family to be buried on the same night without waiting for the funeral, but on the call of the family and the family gathered in the mosque, the people did not succumb to these threats and stood guard in the mosque by Simko's funeral until the morning.
Hearing this, the people of Mahabad from 7 to 70 began to gather in front of the mosque with the sunrise. Streets filled with people from Sihet Square (People call the Square Heywanan because there was an animal market here before) to Çarçira Square. People from all walks of life joined this march. After this march on October 27, Simko was buried with slogans and the people marched from the cemetery to the city center, towards Fermandarî (District Governorate). Both the jahshs (rangers) positioned on the corners, as well as Besic and pasdars opened fire on the people. In these attacks, 6 people whose names were identified were martyred and dozens were injured.
REACTION GROWS WITH EVERY DEATH
Emphasizing that Simko lost his life while participating in the demonstrations for Jîna, and that Mesud Ehmedzade, Şaho Xizrî, Kubra Şêxa Seqa, Ferîşta Ehmedî and Zanyar Ebûbekirî were killed because they were among the tens of thousands of people who protested the killing of Simko's, the youth expressed their anger against the regime. They underlined that their anger is increasing day by day and the regime is becoming more reckless against this anger.
Two young people in the group describe the day Simko died: "Our friend Simko was shot near Mela Xelîl Square. There was a police station just below the square, and he was shot in the chest from this point, and was martyred right there."
Young people also explain the importance of the place where Simko was shot: "For many years, that street has actually witnessed many demonstrations. 15-16 years ago, a young man named Şiwan Seyidqadir from Mahabad was shot by the police for a criminal offense, and then the police showed disrespect towards that young man's funeral. The people of Mahabad took to the streets to denounce that attitude of the police and defended the youth. That's why that street is known as Shiwan Seyidqadir Street among the people and has hosted many protests after that. The protests for Jîna started there and Simko was shot on that street. "
THE PEOPLE ARE NO LONGER AFRAID
Gençler Simko'nun vurulduğu yerin önemini de şu sözlerle anlatıyor: "Uzun yıllardır aslında o cadde birçok eyleme tanıklık etti. 15-16 yıl önce Şiwan Seyidqadir isimli Mahabadlı bir genç, adli bir suç nedeniyle polis tarafından vurulmuş ve ardından polis o gencin cenazesine karşı saygısızlık etmişti. Mahabadlılar da polisin o tavrını kınamak amacıyla sokaklara dökülmüş ve gence sahip çıkmıştı. Bu nedenle o cadde halk arasında Şiwan Seyidqadir Caddesi olarak bilinir ve ondan sonra da birçok eyleme ev sahipliği yaptı. Jîna için yapılan eylemler de orada başladı ve Simko da o caddede vuruldu."
After the murder of Jîna Emini, itisab (strike) was declared throughout Iran and every Saturday, shopkeepers did not open their shutters to protest this situation. In Rojhilat cities, there was a strike not only on Saturdays but also on Wednesdays. The young people I asked about this said: "The market places and the shopkeepers do not open their shops on the days of the strike. This is the first time in the history of Rojhilat that a strike has been carried out for such a long time. In fact, the first strike started in schools. Students boycotted the schools and this wave spread to the bazaars. Schools have an important role in curbing the fear. The people, who were afraid of closing their shops at first, are now expressing their objections more boldly."
One afternoon in Mahabad, I witnessed the shopkeepers closing their shutters one by one. A shopkeeper I asked why everything was closed even though it was not a Saturday or a Wednesday said: "When the news comes that someone who was injured in the protests but was treated at home or in the hospital died, the people, on their own initiative, lower their shutters to protest this situation. The day you mentioned, the hospital has been shut down for about a month. There was news that Faiq Mamqaderi, who was receiving treatment, passed away."
When I asked when and in what demonstration Faiq Mamqaderi was injured, he gave the following information: "Faiq was not actually injured in any demonstration. He got the news that Iranian armed forces raided his family's house in the middle of the night, got into his car with a friend and drove to the house. Shots were fired from the police car in front of his family's house. Faiq's friend next to him recovered after treatment, while Faiq was taken to a hospital in Urmia and died there."
INTERNET AND ELECTRICITY CUT AGAIN
During the protests in Mahabad, both internet outages and power cuts are frequent. On November 10, when Faiq Mamqaderi's body was buried, I witnessed power outages for two days. When I ask the reason for this, I get the answer that the administration uses such methods to punish the people.
PROTESTS ARE BEYOND MANDATORY HIJAB AND CLOTHING
I also meet with a group of young university students. Reminding that the demos started after the compulsory hijab caused Jîna's death, I ask the extent to which it has reached now. The students say: "The peoples of Iran had given up hope of change. That's why the objections that lasted for this long and that everyone agreed with were left before the 1979 revolution. However, the murder of Jîna and its public disclosure despite all the pressures broke that fear. It strengthened the feeling of 'there is nothing beyond death' in people and they started to show the courage to claim all their rights that were usurped. This fight has now surpassed the objection to compulsory hijab. This fight has turned into a fight for freedom. And this movement took its strength from 'Jin Jiyan Azadi'."
EVERYONE FROM ALL AGES WANTS FREEDOM
University students, whom I frequently asked if the police from cities such as Urmia and Tabriz were deployed to Mahabad with the Basîj force, motorized teams, armored vehicles and buses, and whether this would cause fear among the public, replied: "Right after Simko's murder, 60 motorcycles were brought from Urmia. 300 armed men were brought to Mahabad by 8 pick-ups (pickups) and buses, they were placed in schools and mosques. Although the people saw this, they did not withdraw from the streets. An important threshold was reached in two months in the cities of Rojhilat. Today, a even 3-year-old children were shouting 'death to the dictator' and 'Jin Jiyan Azadi'. Everybody wants complete freedom. This finds its presence in the slogan Jin Jiyan Azadi. From time to time, we experience this situation with our friends. When we meet, we come across comments that it is at a point that goes beyond the French Revolution, perhaps an early detection."
YOUTH IN SELF DEFENSE AGAINST REGIME VIOLENCE
When I ask who is leading these protests, the young people give the following answer: "Everyone. Yes, it started with the students, but the people did not leave the students alone, and we can say that the protests continue in their own natural way. This is very important. In other words, it is an uprising in which anyone who has objections can become a pioneer and take to the streets without taking the lead. But we will see together what will happen in the future. For example, as the regime increases its violence, organizations on the basis of self-defense can emerge and as a matter of fact, the people of Rojhilat are actually a people with war experience. It is a tradition that has continued until today. However, the people want to get results with their protests and actions on the street. Of course, the Iranian state is gradually responding to these legitimate demands of the people by increasing the dose of violence, and if this continues like this, then the color of this rebellion will naturally change because these people showed that they won't take a step back in the last two months and the regime must have understood that."
'EVERY IRANIAN HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO DEFEND THEIR HONOUR'
I ask everyone I talk to with the thought that maybe I will get a different answer, and I also ask young university students "the difference between these actions from 2009 and 2019 actions". I get the answer I get in every city here as well: "Until now, the objections to the Islamic Republic of Iran have been fragmented. The surrounding cities were indifferent to the protests that started in big cities from time to time. The central cities were indifferent to the protests that started in the surrounding cities from time to time. This caused the protests to be short-lived. However, the murder of a Kurdish woman, Jîna, in the capital of the Islamic Republic, such as Tehran, caused a great reaction from the people of Kurdistan. This reaction spread to Iran as a whole when it received the support of women who continued their protests against Gaşt e Irshad in Iranian cities. From time to time we hear slogans praising the courage of the people of Kurdistan in other provinces of Iran. This is important and beautiful, but the point here is not to praise our courage. There is an attack on the honor of all Iranian peoples and every Iranian is obliged to protect this honour.
'WE DON'T WANT SUPPORT, WE WANT SHOULDER TO SHOULDER RESISTANCE'
The slogan 'Azerbaijan is awake, stands by Kurdistan' rising from Tabriz is very important. However, this should not remain a message of solidarity. It should be directly part of this demand to a change. Every Iranian who wants to get rid of this persecution and oppression is a subject of this rebellion and should participate with this awareness. Objections to the increase in gasoline prices on November 15-16, 2019 were the most comprehensive actions after the 1979 Revolution. 1500 people died in those actions. However, these actions did not yield results, as it was a fragmented stance. Now the situation is different and there is an objection that goes beyond those actions. These objections are not just those of a class, a religion, a sect, a nation, a state. The objections of all Iran as a whole. Therefore, these revolts are not under the yoke of anyone. There is only one slogan and that is the all-encompassing 'Jin Jiyan Azadi'. All peoples, different colors can find their representation under this slogan. That's why it's spreading more and more."
TANGERS ARE FIRING ON PEOPLE
There is another important point in Mabahad that everyone is talking about. It's a matter of protection. The Mahabad locak next to me, pointing to the groups of people I saw on the street, says, "These are Mangur, that is, jahsh." When I ask what Mangur is, he gives the following information: "Historically, the Mangur are a warrior and semi-nomadic Kurdish tribe. A large tribe in the Mukriyan region. One of the few tribes that rebelled against Reza Shah Pahlavi, the shah of Iran between 1925 and 1941. The Mangur tribe was among the tribes that also supported the Republic of Kurdistan in 1946. However, they withdrew after the execution of Qazi Mihemed and his friends. A small part of this tribe is currently serving as a village guard for the Iranian regime. Although a very small branch carries out this duty, they are called by the name of the tribe. The neighborhood they live in is separate and they have nearly two thousand armed members. In the first days of the protests, they even stood guard with heavy weapons in their own neighborhoods, and they were the ones who fired directly at the people at first. In fact, the Iranian regime is trying to do the same in Rojhilat as in other parts of Kurdistan. They are making Kurds kill Kurds with. For example, Shaho Xizri was killed by the bullet of one of them."
REGIME IS AN OCCUPIER IN ROJHILAT
I am meeting with a well-known and popular citizen in Mahabad. He makes a concise assessment: "Look, the regime knows very well what it is doing. It also knows the Kurds. For example, when the protests first started in Tehran and some other cities, there was a regime that controlled the dose of violence. It was attacking the people with rubber bullets. However, the situation is different in Kurdistan. They attacked the people with some weapons that were easy to deny. People were being shot at with shotguns and cannonballs, and some citizens who were shot at close range lost their lives with these cannonballs. It was easy to deny this. In fact, they often deny that they killed people, saying that 'our forces do not have such weapons' However, when they see that the people are not afraid, they are using the Kalashnikov weapons now. "
'THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO MAKE IT'
He draws attention to another issue and explains the 16-17-year-old children killed in Kurdistan with an example from history: "In 1984, in the 5th year of the revolution, the state, which started to establish its power in Iran, turned to Kurdistan and 59 people were executed in Mahabad at that time. Few of them were in their 40s. All the others were children aged 15 to 17. This state does not target the most resistant and progressive soldiers of this people for nothing. However, they will not succeed this time."
As a result of the intensified protests, citizens named Azad Huseyinpur and Muhammed Ehmedi Gageş died in Mahabad between November 16 and November 21 as a result of the armed attack of the regime forces. Şamal Xadirî, who was seriously injured during the protests and was taken to a hospital in Urmia, died on November 24. Regime forces raid houses especially at night and detain citizens with torture. It is stated that there has been an increase in house raids, especially with the increasing violence of the regime in the last period, and it is not even known where most of the detainees are taken.
(Names of the citizens were not disclosed due to security concerns)
Article series-1 I am in İran and Rojhilat...
Article series-2 Xoy and Urmia: The people suffered greatly from the Iranian regime
Tomorrow: Women of Mahabad taking to streets tell their stories
MA / Abdurrahman Gök