The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, which has repeatedly used children as an armed force, violated international rights and children’s rights, and has also deployed women in armed operations, is now effectively using women and children that reside in their camps as human shield.
Local sources and journalists in Iraq-Iran border region explained to IKHRW (Iranian Kurdistan Human Rights Watch) observers, that after the warning drone attack in a field near the militia’s headquarters and military camps last month – and repetitive warnings of the Islamic Republic of Iran accompanied with calls for the expulsion and disarmament of this armed group – the militia has resorted to a new tactic.
The group has moved the location of the women and children in these camps next to ammunition depots, training facilities. The women and children’s new location functions to prevent an attack by Iranian armed forces, and to showcase a human rights debacle in case of an attack is executed. At the same time, Iran has a duty to protect the lives of women and children in its attacks against this militia.
The location of the KDPI, named Qala
The Iranian government has repeatedly warned the Kurdistan Region Government and the Iraqi central government that it intends to expel the KDPI from Iraqi territory. According to article 7 of the Iraqi constitution, the territory of Iraq cannot be abused by terrorist groups that use the territory as a launching pad for armed forces into neighboring countries. The Iranian government has shown it is serious in its intentions to expel the group, and has requested the respective governments to assist Iran in removing these groups from its border.
The KDPI has realized this as well, and intends to sacrifice women and children to present them as victims of Iranian attacks. It has not heed repetitive warning from the Iranian government, nor Iraqi government actors that have requested them to leave.
For this reason, KDPI, while adopting unconventional methods, has taken part of their ammunition, weapons and military members out of their camps and hid them in the surrounding mountains for fear of another attack by the Iranian military. It has moved women and children into locations previously known as arms and ammunition depots and fighters’ barracks.
By doing so, the militia intends to protect military equipment and fighters from the onslaught of Iranian attacks, and to portray their camps under international or Iraqi government inspections as free of weapons and male fighters. The militants at least intend to designate their headquarters as a refugee camp, to prevent permanent closure of the base.
Location of the KDPI, called Sanjegh alley
According to IKHRW observers in Erbil province, families of KDPI fighters have in fact protested these actions at the group’s headquarters near Erbil. They protested being left at the camp in locations previously known as ammuntion and arms depots, which would form an obvious target for armed forces that intend to empty the camp, while militia fighters were moved to safe locations in the mountains.
The women also gathered in front of the house Mustafa Hijri, the militia’s commander, and protested against the transformation of their families into a human shield.
Hijri has simply remained silent in the face of these protests. Therefore, it can be said with certainty that Hijri and other KDPI leaders intend to use women and children as human shields.
In this regard, the Human Rights Watch of Iranian Kurdistan believes:
1. The primary task of Iran is to protect the lives of women and children. Iran should not attack the headquarters if there are women and children present.
2. The Kurdistan Region Government has shown it does not have the will and ability to confront these groups, yet it should take the threat they pose to the region’s stability seriously.
3. The Iranian government should also call on the Iraqi central government to take a serious stand, while emphasizing the need to deal with these groups as written in its constitution.
4. The use of women and children as human shields is a violation of human rights. How is it that the KDPI on the one hand consider themselves supporters of Kurdish rights, and on the other hand show they are sacrifice Kurdish women and children? Are the women and children of the leaders also still in the headquarters? Is it true that many of the leaders now reside in housing provided by KRG heads instead of at the headquarters or encampments? If not, where are these people who are ready to sacrifice Kurdish children and women now?
5. Kurdish human rights groups should not remain silent about this situation. Neither side in this conflict has the right to remain silent in the face of blatant violations of the rights of children and women, or actions that would seriously endanger their lives.
The watchdog therefore urges KDPI to move women and children to safety as soon as possible and to adopt a political approach to avoid military tensions.
Also, the Iranian government should not threaten with attacks until it is confident that no women and children are endangered.