Mahtab Khezri: We worked to uncover the dirty policies of the regime

Speaking to our news agency on behalf of the Democratic Women's Union of Eastern Kurdistan, Mahtab Khezri emphasizes that women’s deep historical roots will shed light on all Iranian women and that women will prevail in 2022.


News Center- The Democratic Women's Union of Eastern Kurdistan has gone through many challenges since its foundation in 1946. Mina Qazi was the first leader of the union.  The union aims to support women in every part of life. Mahtab Khezri spoke to our news agency on behalf of the Democratic Women’s Union of Eastern Kurdistan (Rojhelat- Iranian Kurdistan) about the situation of the women in the region.

A brief history of the union

The Democratic Women's Union of Eastern Kurdistan was founded to ensure women’s rights and to support women in the national struggle. After the fall of the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad, the activities of the union were suspended but the women kept organizing themselves for years and founded the union again in 1946 after the foundation of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in 1945.

The union played an important role in the declaration of independence of the Republic of Mahabad on January 22, 1946. The founders of the union were executed by hanging in on March 31, 1947, but the union kept organizing its activities to raise the hope of society and women.

The members of the union struggled in Iran and Eastern Kurdistan before the revolution in 1979. After Iran officially became the Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, hundreds of members of the union were arrested, tortured, and executed.

“There was no organization for women”

Mahtab Khezri is a women’s rights activist and a member of the union. Underlining that the Democratic Women's Union of Eastern Kurdistan has taken part in all the historical processes in Iran, Mahtab Khezri says that the struggle of women has contributed a lot to the Iranian peoples. “When the union was founded in Mahabad, there was no organization for women. We are talking about the years when nobody could mention the rights of women and women’s participation in politics. The union was founded despite patriarchal tribes and families. The union is a democratic women's organization founded to achieve the political and social goals of women in Kurdistan society. It is an umbrella organization for all organizing women. It works for women's rights, equality, justice, and democracy in society,” she told us.

Emphasizing that their struggle for national unity has evolved into the struggle for human rights and women's rights, Mahtab Khezri said, “Today, people of all nations are oppressed and murdered. Women in Iran face increasing pressures. Hundreds of women are forced to live in the prisons of the Islamic Republic because they fight for women's rights.”

Activities of the union in 2021

Speaking about their activities in 2021, Mahtab Khezri said, “We, as the union, have carried our activities with many women’s organizations such as Iranian Kurdistan Women's Union, Mahabad Women's Union, and Asoy Kurdish Women's Union. We work together for common and important activities. In 2021, we held many seminars, activities, and protests together. Even if the Covid-19 pandemic negatively affected our field work, we never stop working, we kept organizing people.

“When a woman is oppressed, a society will be oppressed”

Underlining that they have faced political pressure, Matab Khezri said, “We have received threats but we never stop working. We don’t give up despite arrests and detentions against us. We had to break the silence while the exploitation of women's labor in society was at an extreme level, we didn’t remain silent and we will not. Everyone should know that when a woman is oppressed, a society will be oppressed.”

Their plans for 2022

The Democratic Women's Union of Eastern Kurdistan launched a campaign called, “Break the silence” in 2021 to draw attention to the pressures in Iran. “The campaign achieved its purpose. In 2021, we worked with both regional and international human rights organizations to reveal the crimes committed against women and people by the Islamic Republic of Iran. We worked to uncover the dirty policies of the regime and we will continue to work to uncover them. In 2022, we will continue to share the statistics on human rights violations in Iran with the public. Our aim is to have a democratic government instead of an Islamic regime.”