Iranian Kurds, although economically deprived and ethnically suppressed, have not given up on environmental activism.
In the last 30 days, volunteers planted over 20,000 oak trees in Ilam and Kermanshah forests located in the northwest of Iran. The non-governmental organization, Heeloo, based in Kermanshah, a Kurdish province in western Iran, initiated and supported the movement.
The movement was to compensate for the fire that burned down thousands of tree in the Zagros Mountains in the summer in Kurdistan and Kermanshah provinces.
The Zagros Mountains that range across the Kurdish inhabited regions of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, have a total length of 1500 km and have been an integral part of Kurdish life, culture, and resistance.
In addition to planting trees, Heeloo organization has been active in controlling fire in the forests and have raised funds to educate school children about the importance of environmental causes.
The city of Mariwan, in Kurdistan Province of Iran, located near the Iran-Iraq border has an active environmental group called the Chya Green Association which has also been active in stopping fires, planting trees, holding exhibitions and overall raising awareness about the ecology of the region.
The village of Daraki in Mariwan held a symbolic ceremony in the summer when the hunter Ahmad Azizi broke his rifle to encourage limited hunting in the Zagros Mountains.
Azizi, an avid hunter, said he made this decision when he came home with a dead red-legged partridge and his daughter asked him in tears to never kill animals again.
His decision soon inspired other hunters in the region to do the same, and the news received national and international attention.
Inspired by this gesture, in another ceremony many citizens from across the Kurdistan Province freed their birds from their cages and burned the cages. The photos of that movement went viral on social media.
The Chya Green Association that supported and encouraged many such movements regularly organizes activities such as garbage collecting campaigns in which volunteers gather to collect plastic and other rubbish from the mountains and rivers.
Chya Green Association also recently received permission from the Iranian officials to publish a periodical and raise awareness about environmental issues.