Kurdistan Free Life Party

   This is a new Iranian Kurdish party that held its first congress on 25 March 2004 and is closely associated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PJAK (Parti Jiyani Azadi Kurdistan) is led by Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmedi, who had previously been a member of the PKK and currently resides in Europe. As of 2010, fighters of both the PKK and PJAK are located on the Kandil Mountains, with PKK fighters on the western side and PJAK fighters on the southern side.
   The exact origin of the PJAK is disputed. However, according to its members the party's beginnings may be traced back to 1997 to a peaceful student-based human rights movement that was inspired by the successes of the Iraqi Kurds and the PKK. In 1999, following a series of Iranian government crackdowns, the group's leaders moved to the safety of the Kandil Mountains on the border of Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan. Here, the group adopted many of the political and military ideas of the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan, whom they already admired. Veteran PKK fighters of Iranian origin also moved into the group's ranks.
   PJAK advocates replacing Iran's theocratic leadership with a democratic, federal system that would grant autonomy not only to the Kurds but also to the Azeri, Beluchi, and Arab regions of Iran. Women also play a major role in the party and constitute as much as 40 percent of its some 3,000 fighters. (In addition, PJAK claims that it has thousands of activists within Iran.) PJAK claims that it resorts to military actions only in response to violent Iranian government acts such as those surrounding the government's killing in July 2005 of Shivan Qadiri, a young Kurdish leader whose body was dragged through the streets. Thousands of Iranian Kurds launched protests in Mahabad and other cities as a result.
   Although PJAK shares PKK facilities such as hospitals, remains within the PKK's defensive perimeter in the Kandil Mountains, and shares many of the PKK's goals as well as supposedly being coordinated by the Koma Civaken Kurdistan (KCK) whose Executive Council is chaired by the PKK military leader Murat Karayilan, PJAK also maintains its own administrative structure. This includes a Congress, Head of the Party (Abdul Rahman Haji Ahmedi), Assembly, and General Coordination. Other PJAK bodies are the Union of Women of Eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan (YJRK), Union of the Youth of Eastern Kurdistan, Democratic Press Union, and Political and Diplomatic Committee. Gulistan Dogan heads the important women's branch of the PJAK, which, as previously noted, supplies around 40 percent of the party's fighters, yet another similarity with its PKK ally. Dogan is also a member of PJAK's seven-member Leadership Council. Assad Abdul Rahman Chaderchi is also a member of this body, as was Afif Zagros until his death in May 2006.
   A number of sources have claimed that PJAK was receiving surreptitious U.S. backing as a way for the United States to counter Iranian ambitions in the Middle East. Although this has been denied, earlier it was known that the United States was supporting the Muja-hedin-e Khalq, an Iranian opposition group that was officially classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. However, in February 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted PJAK in an effort to appease its Turkish ally. This U.S. designation under Executive Order 13224 was not as politically significant, however, as being termed a terrorist organization and placed on the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as is the PKK. Under the current listing, the United States will freeze PJAK's assets and prohibit U.S. citizens from doing business with it.
   Given the divisions within the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) and decline of Komala, opportunities for PJAK have clearly opened up and been utilized. PJAK maintains a website at pjak.org.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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