Narration of Shahriyar Mohammadpour from Kolberi to membership in PJAK Sect

In 2018, Shahriyar Mohammadpour was working as a Kolberi, but one day he lost his way and got lost in the mountains.

According to the Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights Watch, one of the main reasons for the membership of Iranian Kurdish young people in armed groups such as PJAK is poverty and unemployment in the border and Kurdish regions of Iran. When the young people have no job, the armed groups have taken advantage of this opportunity, and by encouraging to join, promise them a job, life and better income. On the other hand, due to lack of government investment in the border areas and unemployment and poverty the Kurdish educated young people, has to turn to fake and dangerous jobs such as kolberi and as a result, may fall into the trap of armed groups such as PJAK. The story of the new interview of the reporter of IKHRW started from this economic damage and lack of development in the border areas of Iran; A young man is captured by PJAK forces on the way to Kolberi.

Kolberi and compulsory membership in PJAK

In 2018, Shahriyar Mohammadpour was working as a Kolberi, but one day he lost his way and got lost in the mountains. He told the reporter: “I had no knowledge about this PJAK and I was not into politics at all.” One day while doing kolberi, I got lost in one of the villages of Iraq. I couldn’t find the way and I was worried. At the same time, people who were patrolling arrested me and took me to a house. At first, I thought they were Iraqi border forces in casual clothes. After a while I was alone for several hours.  After that, some people entered the room and asked me a series of questions such as what are you doing here? Why did you come here?

I also explained to them that I was doing with Kolberi and got lost and did not intend to do anything special. But they didn’t believe me, and that’s why they locked me inside that house for a week, thinking I was a spy. After that one week that was practically a solitary confinement; a few more people entered the house. I also talked to them. I told them I just wanted to work so I could earn money and marry the girl I love. But they did not accept and told me that is not love but an illusion. We have been giving you food and water for a week, how can you go, you must become our member and stay here, they said. I was shocked! Where should I stay and what group and organization should I become a member of? I didn’t know what kind of group they were to accept or not accept. First, I tried not to be overwhelmed but to convince them. Then one of them told me either Kurdistan or death!  I was also scared and did not know what to do. On the one hand, I wanted to work and marry that girl. But if they killed me, the hard work and hard life in the mountains would be useless! I accepted inevitably under the threat of death.”

Accused of espionage in PJAK and continuous tortures

Shahriyar had practically become a member of PJAK and had no choice but to accompany them! After some time, he entered the training course! Weapon training and history and sociology and hard life in the mountains and the terrible headquarters of PJAK! Shahriyar told our reporter: “There were some major problems during the training course. The tutorials were not understandable for me at all! On the other hand, I was ridiculed every moment by the commanders there, and they always humiliated me in such a way that made me believe I am a stupid person! While I was not stupid, I did not believe in their teaching and I wanted to return home. After these constant harassments and long ridicules, one day I got into a fight with them. And this caused to call me a spy and arrested me. They imprisoned me in a cave with hands and feet tied! It means protesting against PJAK and mocking their education is espionage! Aside from being accused of being a spy, the next step, being imprisoned in a cave with my hands and feet tied, is the worst part of my life. Mental and physical torture was the everyday work of PJAK officials. For nearly three months, I was imprisoned with my hands and feet tied and the destruction of my personality hurt me a lot. So that every day one of them would come and start cursing and calling me a spy all the time. And among his statements, he always said: The punishment for spies is death. Every day I was threatened with death and execution and I had to bear it! I didn’t even spy and I wasn’t a spy at all! Sometimes several people, instead of one person, would enter and always one or two of them would beat me as much as they could. Just because they want me to tell the lie that yes, I am a spy, so that they can reach their goal by getting me to confess under mental and physical torture! They wanted me to confess to sell the honor of this discovering to their commanders and get rewarded.”

Prison and brainwashing by PJAK

The opportunity of solitary confinement in PJAK is a good opportunity for the leaders to put the other person under mental pressure to be ready to accept the beliefs of the PJAK sect. That is, prison is part of the brainwashing process in PJAK!

Regarding this issue, Shahriyar told our reporter: “During the time I was in prison, PJAK members were constantly brainwashing me and this really happened and made me obedient. I had practically become their slave; but I still heard curses and was beaten.”

Freedom from prison and continued humiliation

Shahriyar continues: “Until those three hellish months ended and I was freed. But it didn’t end there, when they released me from prison, their taunts started again. My accent, my physique, my appearance, everything about me was mocked daily. Not just mockery but harassment.

I thought the reason for this harassment was the jealousy of the commanders! It was confirmed to me that they were jealous of me and intended to humiliate me. A good physical appearance, a relatively beautiful and attractive face, was a very strange feature among the commanders of PJAK, and this caused some women in the group to show affection to me. Of course secretly!

These women were both young and newly arrived troops and middle commanders! One of the commanders there, named Brittan, openly showed her interest in me and even suggested to run away together! But I was scared and thought it maybe a trap to sentence me to prison for a longer term. Verbal abuse and humiliation had become normal for me! I did not dare to run away neither. I tried to focus on my work and stop thinking about anything… but I couldn’t. I was the subject of destruction and humiliation, and PJAK officials did not want to let go of this subject…”

Conflict with teenager forces in PJAK

About membership of teenager in PJAK, Shahriyar has presented important memories to IKHRW reporter: “Most of the conflicts I had in PJAK were not with adults; this also bothered me because the commanders there used some 13, 14-year-old brainwashed teenagers to humiliate and harass me. If I beat them, I would be imprisoned! I was annoyed there, they knew that I didn’t belong there and I was still thinking about my beloved…”

The end of the nightmare of being in PJAK

The continuation of conflicts and humiliations in PJAK made Shahriyar more determined and decided to escape. But the PJAK officials themselves got tired of Shahriyar: “The PJAK officials were also tired of me…they were bored…I was so restless that they themselves were tired of me.  In my opinion, if possible, they would definitely kill me! They also had the excuse; I was a disgruntled force there…

Until one day they tied my hands and feet again and threw me into a car. I thought I was going to be transferred to solitary confinement again and I was really scared! When they threw me out of the car with my eyes closed, they were no longer there! They left me near one of the villages named Ranya. I thought this was a trap to test my reaction and if I ran away they would shoot at me…

At that moment I didn’t even remember myself and I was completely confused. I did not believe that I saw outside the headquarters of PJAK. After a while I could remembered the names of my brother and father and my family members. After a few hours, I was arrested by Asayish belonging to YNK and after some time they handed me over to Iran.

Since then, the bad memories of that place still haunt me, psychological abuse, stress and threats still bother me… The nightmare of repeating those days is still bitter for me… After I was in Iran for some time and there was no news of PJAK; One day when I was walking in the street; A Samand car suddenly braked in front of me and a person got out and very quickly said a sentence to my ear and quickly got into the car and left. The sentence was: “You should be afraid forever! Be careful what you say to whom!” It means that PJAK still hasn’t left me and the nightmare of being in PJAK’s headquarters has given way to the nightmare of being afraid of PJAK in Iran… From that day on, I’m still afraid to leave the house and I’m mostly at home.

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