Mehran Kikani: I was looking for a job, they gave me a gun

Socioeconomic problems lie at the foundations of recruitment of young Iranian Kurds by militant groups. Lack of job opportunities, education, and development of rural areas shape the young people in the environment in such a way that they become easy targets for groups as PKK, and its Iranian offshoot PJAK.

During an interview that Mehran Kikani – a person who was forced to travel for a job as a worker in a foreign country due to lack of job opportunities in Iran – had with the Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights Watch, he stated: “I had gone to find somewhere to work, but they gave me a gun.

Description of the incident from Mehran Kikani:

“For a long time, I could not find a suitable job in our own city, that’s why I decided to go to Iraq and the city of Sulaymaniyah to find a job there. When I got there, I went to the main square of the city. I stood for a while next to other workers who were looking for work like me”

“Suddenly, a white Toyota pickup truck braked in front of us. At first, I did not understand why the others ran away, but I was a little happy and felt that the other job was mine…”

“There were four people, two of them got out and started talking, first they asked me if I were Iranian, and I said yes, then they told me that they wanted me to work for them for gardening in a garden. Another worker was standing a few meters away and shook his head as if he wanted to say “Don’t go.” But I though he might be jealous of them picking me for the job.”

“I agreed and got into the car, but we slowly left the city and entered the mountains. At first, I felt that their garden might be outside the city, where most villas and vacation homes are, so I didn’t complain, but after walking a path, we entered a place where everyone had weapons. I objected to one of them and said, “Where are you bringing me? I came to work! I neither know you nor here.””

“The same man who initially told me that he would hire me for gardening work said that this is the headquarters of PJAK and you should be trained here and fight for your people. I got really involved with them and I was very scared and I didn’t know what to do! I didn’t know any way to escape. I tried to escape twice during the first few days I was there, but they arrested me and handcuffed me inside one of the trenches. A few days passed and they released me. But fortunately, after 20 days of being held there, I was able to escape and quickly reached one of the villages and called my family to come and get me out of there.”

“I just wanted to work, I was just looking for a job. I was not interested in war, nor did I even know PJAK or any of its members. Perhaps the worst 20 days of my life were there, sleeping in a cave and eating beans on the rocks, among PJAK members.”


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