Xendewan, the group behind the banned Kurdish cultural summit. Photo: Xendewan / Instagram
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iranian intelligence service agents shut down a cultural summit launched by an Iranian Kurdish group in Ilam, arrested five organizers on Thursday.
“We were supposed to have a cultural summit with the participation of Kurdish cultural activists across Iranian Kurdistan, yet they cancelled it. They are afraid of more connection between the speakers of various Kurdish dialectics,” Zhakan Baran, a poet and one of the organizers, told Rudaw.
Iranian Kurds living in Mokrian and several cities around Mahabd speak the Sorani dialect of Kurdish, while Kurds around Urmia speak mainly Kurmanji, and those in Kermanshah and Ilam speak a mixture of Sorani, Klahori, and Laki.
Organized by Xendewan, which translates as Readers, the cultural summit was supposed to be held on Friday with the participation of 450 Kurdish poets, writers, musicians, and language experts. A day discussion between Kurdish cultural activists of Urmia, Sanandaj, Kermashan, Ilam, Lorestan, Hamadan, and Khorasan was planned.
They had planned to launch a national organization for Kurdish culture.
The summit had been granted legal permission from the government, yet on Tuesday the Iranian intelligence services cancelled it.
On Thursday, the intelligence services arrested five of the summit’s organizers – Mustafa Baqri Ashna, from Kangavar city of Kermanshah province, Ardashir Mosavi, Bijan Hemati, Shahriar Tahmasbi, from Kermanshah city, and Mehdi Azad Baxt, from Lorestan.
“It was unfortunate that they cancelled a legal summit of Kurdish culture, yet we will continue to be active,” Zhakan added.
The cities around Mahabad in the West Azerbaijan Province of Iran have long been the center of Kurdish cultural activities. More recently, this mantle has moved to the Kurdish provinces of Ilam and Kermanshah as several NGOs and magazines have established themselves in these provinces.