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

After a few hours, two minibuses pulled up. Navareh mistakenly believed they had arrived to transport some fresh vegetables. Men dressed in black attire got out of the bus when it was roughly 100 meters away. Navareh later learned that the men were the Siyah Jamegan, or the “black clad” men, a pasdaran militia. Ashraf successfully escaped but Navareh was not so lucky:

They shot at us and we escaped through a stream surrounded by trees. […] We were at a turn when my hand flew up in the air and I felt a sharp pain. I couldn’t move my hand anymore. Then I realized my hand had been shot and a bullet had lodged in my bone. I fell and my pursuers crowded above me. One of them had an Uzi in his hand and put it in my mouth and said, you communist SOB! I said: I am not a communist—I am just a village teacher. They asked me where my friend was and I said I did not know. When we were attacked my friend escaped into a valley, away from the shooting. I was happy he managed to escape.

The pasdaran put him in a minibus and stopped at several villages before finally arriving at Sanandaj. During the ride, the pasdaran frequently stopped and searched people they saw on the road. Navareh recalls how they shot at Jamal—a young welder from the village of Kareh Si whom Navareh knew:

When [Jamal] was riding his motorbike our way they shot at him. I could see this from the minibus. He had not done anything. Without giving him notice or telling him to halt they just shot at him. He escaped on his bike that time, but was later martyred in the 24 day war on Sanandaj.

Ali Karimi, one of Khalkhali’s bodyguards, executing Kurds ( Jahangir Razmi, Aug. 27, 1979)

When the minibus finally arrived in Sanandaj, the pasdaran took Navareh to a large hall that had been the Gendarmerie’s Club before the Revolution. They sat him on a couch and taunted him about Kurdish political aspirations. They recorded his personal information and then drove him to the Sanandaj military base hospital for medical treatment. Navareh was in extreme pain as several hours had passed since he had been shot. In the hospital bed next to him laid a young man with a wounded leg who spoke to him in Kurdish. He was Ahsan Nahid—the man who would later be photographed by Jahangir Razmi as he lay on a stretcher in front of Khalkhali’s firing squad.

Nahid told Navareh how he had been arrested. Nahid was a university student, originally from Sanandaj, whose family had moved to Tehran ten years before. Nahid was politically active and worked in the village of Bukan, a small village in West Azerbaijan Province, assisting the farmers in disputes with feudal land owners. His younger brother Shahriar Nahid—a medical student in Tehran—was visiting him during his summer vacation. The Nahid brothers, along with two other men - Jamil Yakhchali from Sanandaj and a man from Kermanshah - were arrested when their car was stopped at a checkpoint by pasdaran on the road between Mariwan and Sanandaj. There were Fedaian pamphlets in the car. The man from Kermanshah was somehow able to escape. The Nahids and Yakhchali also attempted to escape but the pasdaran shot Ahsan Nahid in the thigh and arrested him. When his brother and Yakhchali realized that Ahsan was not with them, they returned to find him and were arrested by the waiting pasdaran. Ahsan was taken to the hospital while Shahriar and Yakhchali were detained at the Gendarmerie building in Sanandaj.

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