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Haunted Memories: The Islamic Republic’s Executions of Kurds in 1979

A few days later, in a radio interview, Ayatollah Khalkhali defended his decision to order the execution of Dr. Sardari—the Tehran doctor who provided aid to wounded civilians. He claimed that the authorities arrested Dr. Sardari—who was allegedly clad in Kurdish dress—in trenches dug around Paveh’s hospital. Khalkhali claimed that Dr. Sardari had confessed to being a Communist, espoused support for the KDPI and the separation of Kurdistan, and admitted to using arms against government forces in Paveh. Khalkhali further accused Dr. Sardari of ordering the beheading of pasdaran in Ghuri Ghaleh—the village near Paveh.104

Dr. Sardari’s colleagues at Logmanoddowleh Hospital, as well as medical professionals from other hospitals in Tehran, issued a statement calling for a government inquiry as to what had transpired in Paveh. The statement was published in newspapers:

Dr. Qasem Rashvand Sardari, born in Tehran, was executed on account of being a “Muharib” [at war with God]… On Friday, 26/5/1358 [August 17, 1979], he went to Paveh from Tehran to help the injured of the Paveh battle—so any accusation related to his involvement in the unwanted battle of Paveh is unmerited... We urge … condemnation of the agents who are in charge of these executions.105

A photograph sent from Paveh of Khalkhali interrogating a Kurdish man (Ettelaat Aug. 23, 1979)

Dr. Sardari’s fiancée further reported that she had tickets stubs proving that he left Tehran on Sunday, August 19—and that he only arrived in Paveh following the alleged massacre of the pasdaran.106 When Khalkhali was later asked to provide further justification for his execution order, he alleged that Dr. Sardari burned all his records when he was arrested but that the pasdaran who arrested him could testify to the veracity of his claims. For added measure, he also claimed that Dr. Sardari ordered that the genitals of the dead pasdaran be cut off and put in their mouths.107

On August 21, it was reported that the Revolutionary Court in the City of Kermanshah had also ordered the execution of seven men who allegedly instigated the violence in Paveh, and committed armed robberies. The seven men were Haji Afrasiab, Abdolvahhab Mobarak Shahi, Mohammad Ali Nagshbandi, Abdolkarim Karimi, Emadedin Naseri, Aziz Morad, and Morad Zolfaghari. The execution order was carried out in Dizel Abad Prison in Kermanshah. 108


[104] Khalkhali Dalayil-i Idam-i Doctor Rashvand ra Ilam Kard [Khalkhali Announced Reasons for Executing Dr. Rashvand], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 25, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html. See also IZADY, supra note 3, at 259 (explaining that “Kurdish dress” for men generally refers to baggy pants tied at the ankles and with a wide belt at the waist).
[105] Chih Kasani Mashmul-i I’damhayih Fascisti Mishavand az taraf-i Guruhi az Piszishkan va Resident-hayih Bimaristanhayih Tehran [What Kinds of People Are Subject to Fascistic Executions by a Group of Doctors and Residents from Hospitals Around Tehran], A GROUP OF DOCTORS AND RESIDENTS OF TEHRAN’S HOSPITALS, reprinted in SAYAR, supra note 39, at 102.
[106] Khalkhali Dalayil-i Idam-i Doctor Rashvand ra Ilam Kard [Khalkhali Announced Reasons for Executing Dr. Rashvand] ETTELAAT, [Aug 25, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[107] Guftugu ba Ayatollah Khalkhali: Dar Kurdistan Chih Miguzarad [Interview with Ayatollah Khalkhali: What is Happening in Kurdistan], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 28, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[108] 7 Tan az Amilan-i Havadis-i Khunin-i Paveh Tirbaran Shudand [Seven Instigators of the Bloody Incidents of Paveh Were Executed by a Firing Squad], KAYHAN, [Aug. 21, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.

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