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

  • Mozaffar Rahimi Mohieddin, charged with carrying arms and explosives, was arrested and disarmed by the pasdaran while armed and combating in the trenches; 149
  • Naser Salimi, charged with acting to separate Kurdistan from Iran and participating in the bloody massacre of Paveh. While combating in Paveh he was shot in the hand; 150
  • Ali Ahsan Nahid, charged with participating in all the bloody events of Kurdistan, he was directly involved in the events at Ghotour, Naghadeh, Mahabad, Saqqez and Mariwan and was a commander of the invading forces;
  • Issa Pirvali, charged with Killing Shater Mohamamd and his son in the events transpiring in April in Sanandaj; and
  • • Abdullah Fouladi, son of Mohammad, charged with opening fire on a pasdar car and participating in disarming the military base in the recent events of Kurdistan. He has a reputation and was a supporter of communism governments. 151

The paper included a photograph of the execution on the front page in editions around the country (copy reproduced in Appendix 3). The picture editor later explained that he did not publish it in the Kurdish region edition as he believed that “would be tantamount to a call to arms.”152 To protect the photographer, he published it under “anonymous.” The photograph soon appeared in newspapers around the world and became the first widely publicized window into the regime’s executions, winning the Pulitzer Prize in the spring of 1980. The photographer—Jahangir Razmi—remained anonymous for nearly three decades out of fear.153

Many years later, he and Khalil Bahrami, the reporter he accompanied to the Kurdish regions, described what they witnessed. They had followed the government troops to the Kurdish regions when they heard that Khalkhali was going to try Kurds at the Sanandaj municipal airport. There, they stood outside an antechamber and watched ten handcuffed men enter the makeshift courtroom and stand before Khalkhali. An injured prisoner lay on a stretcher. Bahrami explained:

The judge removed his turban . . . He removed his shoes. He put his feet on a chair. Scanning the prisoners through thick eyeglasses, he asked their names. Officers of the court told of the defendants’ alleged crimes – of trafficking arms, inciting riots and murder. The prisoners, some with leftward or nationalist leanings, denied these accusations. 154

[149] Jamil Navareh remembers that “Mozaffar was arrested when the driver of the taxi he was in—who was a jash [Kurdish collaborator]—saw that Mozaffar had a gun and took him to his house and reported that Mozaffar had a gun. So the pasdaran came to Mozaffar’s house and arrested him. They accused him of having shot at Islamic Republic forces from a mountain that is in between Ghareh Yan and the airport. This was untrue.” Navareh Interview, supra note, 146.
[150] See also, Boroumand Foundation, “One Person’s Story” Mr. Naser Salimi, available athttp://www.iranrights.org/english/memorial-case--4840.php.
[151] 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.
[152] Joshua Prager, A Chilling Photograph’s Hidden History, WALL ST. J., Dec. 2, 2006, available at http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB116499510215538266-w6oLtTyb6LO2glORvqxTV1PwiTM_20061211.html?mod=blogs.
[153] Id.; Thurgood, Iranian Clergy Calls Kurdish Ceasefire, GUARDIAN, Aug. 28, 1979, at 6, available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[154] Prager, supra note 152.

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