Friday, July 22, 2011

From The Mountains They Fight For A Different World

Slideshow created by Namo Abdulla.

QANDIL, Iraq--PJAK is an armed group of largely young men and women guerrillas. They control thousands of acres up in the stony mountains of northern Iraq. PJAK is an acronym for the Party for Free Life of Kurdistan. It has taken up arms to establish an autonomous zone for ethnic Kurds in northwest Iran.

Here in the no-man’s zone, PJAK fighters have a distinctive social life from elsewhere in Iraq and even the world. They have banned themselves from marriage and sex to win a struggle whose enemies are much more than its friends.

The rebels are estimated to be several thousand fighters designated as a terrorist organization by both the United States and Iran.

In the last couple of weeks, the fight between Iran and PJAK has been so intense in which the rebels claim to have killed more than a hundred Iran Revolutionary Guard soldiers. Iran rejects this figure claiming that it has dealt a big blow to the group by dismantling three of their hideouts.

This is me interviewing two PJAK guerrillas.

A more neutral source from the Iraqi Kurdish government gave me an off-the-record figure on Wednesday: 50 Iranians and at least 10 PJAK fighters have been killed.

PJAK fighters follow a philosophy written by Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of the PKK—the Kurdistan Workers’ Party—that has been in a bloody conflict with the Turkish government for more than 27 years to establish a Kurdish homeland in Turkey.

More than a week ago, just a couple of days after Iran resumed its attacks on the guerrillas, I visited one of their hideouts in Qandil Mountains. It was not an easy visit because we had to drive on a long unpaved road to bypass checkpoints setup by the Kurdistan Regional Government, which under pressure from Iran and Turkey has limited visits to those areas.

More details on the daily life of the fighters and the group’s ideology are explained in the slideshow provide above.

To read another blog on PKK guerrillas, click here:

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