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Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group Support for Black Americans

Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group Support for Black Americans


By: Dr. Amir Sharifi



Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group (KHRAG) expresses its utmost outrage at the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman, who for 8 minutes and 46 seconds tortured him to death while ignoring his repeated pleas and cries of “ I can’t breathe.” The brutal murder was not an isolated example. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and many others are parts of a disturbing legacy and brutality of institutional racism, which is integral to the U.S and colonial history.


This is a picture of George Floyd, who died May 25th, 2020 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for at least seven minutes. 2016. Photo: Courtesy of Floyd family/

The tragic event is an example of recurrent history in many racialized communities in the U.S and throughout the world. For Kurds, discrimination is an everyday reality as we are both deprived of civil, socio-cultural, and economic rights; we are often subjected to political oppression and exclusion as African Americans. The Floyd’s tragedy has offered the world an opportunity to see and find ways to eradicate the real roots of racism and lay the foundation for a new framework of fundamental human rights for ethnic and indigenous communities. No democracy is indeed possible without freedom from discrimination. In the words of Martin Luther King, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Kurdish Americans are participating in the anti-discrimination global movement through social media feeds, rallies, messages, tweets, posts, artwork, and vigils. We are actively connecting with African Americans. Like them we have experienced extrajudicial and public executions; during the same week that Floyd was murdered, a young man, Çakan was stabbed to death in a park for singing a song in Kurdish in Turkey. It was again during the same week that Turkish forces demolished the Celadet Ali Badirkhan Library as another reminder that reading and writing in Kurdish is still a cardinal political crime in Turkey. It was in the same week that the Security Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran publicly executed two Kurdish border kulbars (porters) not to mention the routine execution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iranian prisons.

Dr. Amir SharifiKurdish Americans support “Black Lives Matter” and stand for racial and ethnic equity; we uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and insist that it be applied to all racialized and ethnicized communities in the U.S and throughout the world. Only a local anti-discrimination campaign and a growing global peaceful protest such as the one we are witnessing these days can address and redress indignities, humiliations, and marginalization of oppressed peoples. While we mourn George Flyod’s tragic death, we all rise in solidarity to condemn and eradicate institutional violence and racism as a crime against humanity.

Dr. Amir Sharifi
Co-Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group

A Joint Letter to Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Imminent Execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish Political Prisoner in Iran

A Joint Letter to Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Imminent Execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish Political Prisoner in IranUNohchr_Ramin_042018

H.E. Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights

Palais Wilson

52, rue de Paquis 10

1211 Geneva Switzerland

Re: The Imminent Execution of Ramin Hossein Panahi, a Kurdish Political Prisoner in Iran

Your Excellency,

Yet another Kurdish human rights activist, Ramin Hossein Panahi is in imminent danger of execution in Iran. According to Hossein Ahmadiniaz, Mr. Panahi’s lawyer the supreme court of Iran has upheld the death sentence rather than advising the proper legal functions and procedures to be followed. Although no documented charges have been brought against Mr. Panahi, he has been kept in solitary confinement and incommunicado, leading to his ongoing hunger strike against the unbearable prison conditions.  Mr. Panahi’s father, who had recently been able to speak to his son briefly on the phone, is apprehensive and wants the whole world to know about the imminent danger that his son faces. The terrified parents of Mr. Panahi have announced a sit-in front of the prison and have threatened that if their son is executed, they will also put an end to their own lives. The plight of this family is typical of many Kurdish and other Iranian families whose members are in prison, many of whom are on death row.

The current explosion in imprisonments and criminalization of any form of dissent following recent public protests is not unprecedented; Kurds as an ethnic and religious minority are under double surveillance, scrutiny, cultural policing, militarism, economic deprivation and political oppression. Anyone, particularly with an ethnic or religious minority background with the slightest discontent and dissent, is in danger of imprisonment and unfair trials. Mr. Panahai is a political prisoner of conscience whose demand for basic human rights is being met with greater injustice and gallows in flagrant violations of human rights in a system that stifles any dissent with mass arrests and death penalty, the details of which are well documented in your latest report on the situation of human rights in Iran, issued by the late Ms. Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on Iran.

Mr. Panahi’s lawyer has appealed for a judicial review to override the death penalty decision against his client who has been falsely charged with armed insurrection against the Islamic Republic, a capital offense that is punishable by death.  Because of the horror of solitary imprisonment, Mr. Panahi has been on hunger strike since January 27 to protest the prison condition and his conviction both of which are in violation of all international laws and Islamic Republic’s membership in such entities.

If human rights organizations and the international community stand aside and do not protest, the politics of fear and death will persist with its frenzied ritual of mass arrests and executions of political prisoners.   We welcome the latest report and insistent call for the improvement of human rights in Iran and hereby urge you to take immediate action to halt the execution of Mr. Ramin Hossein Panahi. He urgently needs proper medical treatment and family visits as the solitary detention has put him in a more precarious condition. We appeal to you to exert pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran to ensure Mr. Panahi’s immediate and unconditional release from prison.

Yours sincerely,


 Dr.  Azad Moradian

Chair of Kurdish American Committee for Democracy and Human Rights in Iran (KACDHI)                                                            

Dr. Amir Sharifi

Director of Kurdish Human Rights Advocacy Group-Los Angeles

Kurdish New Year Message2014

Kurdish New Year Message2014

Dr. Amir SharifiMarch 21, 2014
 By Dr. Amir Sharifi

I wish all Kurds in our beloved land and diaspora a happy Nowroz in 2714. From Hawler to Amed, from Sanadanj to Efrin, from London to Los Angeles, we are celebrating our New Year with great hopes for the future. Nowroz rises from its ancient and deep roots to offer us light, life, and liberty.

The year we are leaving behind will be remembered for both its triumphs, trials and tribulations. Our people in Rojava (Western Kurdistan) are making steady progress towards establishing an emergent democracy and rediscovering their hope for freedom. In Lebanon, there is a cultural revival among Kurds. In Amed, the long and hard fought struggle for a just peace continues to be a beacon of hope to reclaim our identity and history. In Eastern Kurdistan, we are building and creating an enduring legacy against the tyranny and injustice of the Islamic Republic. In Southern Kurdistan, we see the promises of a nascent democracy with its flourishing Spring Festival of freedom, attracting many Kurds and non-Kurds to the celebration of diversity and solidarity.

dyarbekir_turkey.jpgIn 2713 we experienced many challenges, losses and sorrows. Western Kurdistan came under the vicious attacks of monstrous and evil Jihadist forces. Many of us fell. Tens of thousands of Kurds were displaced, now living in refugee camps where their living conditions are deteriorating. We lost our great poet Sherko Bekas whose lament about Halbja and Infal shook the world. Three bright and brave Kurdish women Fidan Dogan, left, Leyla Soylemez and Sakine Cansiz were brutally assassinated in Paris for defending justice and human rights. In Eastern Kurdistan many cultural and human rights activists and journalists were imprisoned and executed, with many more on death row.

 In Turkey, there were more than eight thousand Kurdish political prisoners, many of whom are sick and their families and friends have no legal recourse. Kurdish women continued to be victims of acts of violence. The Kurdish Regional Government was plagued by narrow political rivalries, divisions, and interests. Rather than maintaining and advancing economic parity and prosperity for all, it has fallen into an inextricable web of corruption, and gaudy consumerism, Kawa Garmyani, an anti-corruption journalist was the last victim of this oligarchic treachery. We were hopeful to establish the first Kurdish National Conference, but it never materialized as its constitutive body was not able to overcome the divisions; they confused unity with unanimity and were torn between their allegiances to different regional powers.

Nowroz for us is a reminder that we should uphold our lofty values about the sanctity and beauty of the renewed nature, the necessity for unity, and revival of our heritage. We can use infinite possibilities on our path to freedom no matter how tormented and threatened we may be, no matter how treacherous and vicious our enemies may be. We can take great strides to realize our dreams if we remain committed to our common aspirations. We can only hope that our collective local, national, and international efforts contribute to the recognition and discussion of Kurdish legitimate democratic demands and rights.

Let us hope that the Nowroz flame will shine its bright light to usher in a happier life and a brighter future for all Kurds.

Happy New Year

Dr. Amir Sharifi, is the president of the Kurdish American Education Society KAES, Los Angeles, California


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