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

One critical point of the agreement was that pasdaran did not have the authority to arrest individuals.117 However, pursuant to Khomeini’s fatwa, the central government dispatched additional forces to Mariwan and began arresting all suspects.118

Khalkhali arrived shortly thereafter on August 25 and promptly dealt with those he decided were responsible for the violence of July 14—deeming that insubordination to the regime would be met with nothing less than death. The day after his arrival, August 26, Khalkhali ordered the execution of nine men.119 Ettelaat newspaper reported that the executed men were Hossein Mostafa Soltani, Amin Mostafa Soltani, Seyyed Hossein Pirkhezranian, Seyyed Ahman Pirkhezranian, Fa’egh Azimi, Ali Dadsetani, Bahman Ahzari, Jalal Nasimi and Ahmad Ghaderzadeh. They were executed by firing squad the same day. 120

Maktab-e Koran is a Sunni Islamic maktab (school) that was established by Molla Ahmad Moftizadeh (also known as Allameh Moftizadeh) in Mariwan and Sanandaj, and that later spread across Iranian Kurdistan. The Maktab sought to promote Islam based on the Koran and the Prophet’s Sunna. Moftizadeh and the Maktab supported creation of an Islamic regime following the 1979 revolution. However, Moftizadeh was arrested in 1983 and imprisoned for ten years. He died shortly after his release in 1993. The Maktab continues its activities but is now severely marginalized.

Fa’egh Azimi (Azizi) was reportedly a member of the City Council.121 Ali Dadsetani, Jalal Nasimi and Ahmad Ghaderzadeh were also apparently local Kurds. 122 The Mostafa Soltani family had long been targeted by central government forces—first by the Shah’s government and later by the new regime—on account of the activities of an elder brother Foad Mostafa Soltani, a leader of Komala. Amin and Hossein Mostafa Soltani were teachers and worked in the civilian branches of the organization. Amin was a member.123

The two younger Mostafa Soltani brothers were arrested as they were driving out of Mariwan on the night of August 17-18. Both were unarmed at the time of their arrests.124 They were with two other Kurdish brothers from Mariwan—Hossein Pirkhezri and Ahmad Pirkhezri—as well as a doctor named Bahman Akhzari. Akhzari had arrived in Mariwan earlier to provide voluntary medical services.125 The men had heard that pasdaran were coming to take control of Mariwan and hoped to leave ahead of their arrival. However, all five men were arrested and executed within 72 hours.126

They were arrested by local Kurdish members of the Maktab-e Koran who recognized them as Komala supporters.127 The men were held in the military base in Mariwan to await Khalkhali’s arrival. When Khalkhali arrived several days later, their father immediately went to the military base and confronted the cleric about the arrest of his two sons. Another brother, Abdullah Mostafa Soltani, recalled:


[117] Avarigan-i Mariwan bih Shahr Bazgashtand [Mariwan Displaced Citizens Returned to the City], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 6, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[118] Abdullah Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 50.
[119] Iran Tells Kurds to Surrender or Be Crushed, GUARDIAN, Aug. 27, 1979, at 6, available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[120] 40 Nafar dar Sanandaj, Mariwan va Saqqez Tirbaran Shudand [40 People Were Executed by a Firing Squad in Sanandaj, Mariwan and Saqqez], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 28, 1979] available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html; Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110 (stating that the names of the other two brothers were “Pirkhezri” and not “Pirkhezrian,” and that three of those killed were named Faegh Azizi, Ali Dastani and Bahman Asghari).
[121] Abdullah Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 50
[122] Id.; Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110.
[123] Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 50. IHRDC Interview with Heshmat Mostafa Soltani (Feb. 10, 2011) (on file with IHRDC) [hereinafter Heshmat Soltani Interview].
[124] Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110; Abdullah Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 50; Heshmat Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 123.
[125] Abdullah Soltani Interview, supra note 50.
[126] Id.; Malakeh Soltani Interview, supra note 110; Heshmat Soltani Interview, supra note 123.
[127] Abdullah Soltani Interview, supra note 50; Heshmat Soltani Interview, supra note 123.

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