On February 5, 2023, Al-Arabiya Network (Saudi Arabia) aired a report about Iranian Kurdish female fighters. The report said that 200 women from the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK) are attending training camps in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which they are trained in the use of weapons and attend lectures about politics and civil rights. It said that many of the women had participated in the anti-regime demonstrations and had been tortured and abused by Iran’s security forces, and therefore have crossed the border into Iraq.
Reporter Sara Benaichouba: "Two hundred girls from the Kurdistan Freedom Party, known by its acronym PAK – one of the parties of the Iranian Kurdish opposition that is active abroad – are deployed to three training sites. Their training includes combat sport, the use of weapons, and lectures about politics and legal rights. Mahsa Amini, whose killing sparked demonstrations in Iran, still inspires many girls and women who believe in the slogan 'Woman, Life, Freedom.' Some of them could not stay in Iran after they had taken part in demonstrations, and were threatened and even attacked by the Iranian security services, so they moved here to Iraqi Kurdistan. The expectation is evident in some of the faces here, while others are masked. Here it is another story altogether."
PAK fighter: "Girls who were just recently demonstrating on the streets of Iran's cities decided to leave, but they fear for their families, in case the intelligence agencies of the Iranian regime find out who they are. I did not only participate in the demonstrations – I led them. I could no longer live there freely because the Iranian forces exposed me, and I was sentenced to prison.
"On the first day, when we returned from Jina [Mahsa] Amini's funeral to Sanandaj, we met on Iqbal Square and we chanted slogans like 'Women, Life, Freedom.' Then the regime's forces came to disperse us with batons. They arrested all of us more or less, and they took us to their headquarters. I was subjected to torture – beatings, electric shocks, and other things."
Benaichouba: "They sympathize with Mahsa Amini, even though they say that they witnessed and heard about other women whose stories were just as painful or even more painful than hers."
PAK fighter: "One of those stories was that of my cousin, who was raped and abused in front of her brother. There are hundreds of similar cases. These people lose hope, break down, and they cannot go on living. We witnessed extremely inhumane acts by the Iranian forces during the current revolution."
Benaichouba: "The day of training is almost over. What is left is the daily meeting, which they say is necessary. It includes a bit of relaxation and singing, and many slogans about women and the revolution. This is Sara Benaichouba, Al-Arabiya, Iraqi Kurdistan."