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

After Navareh’s aunts had visited him, they had obtained a document signed by the village council stating the Navareh had gone to the village to administer a test to students who failed their finals at the end of school year. They had given the document to the pasdaran. The man asked Navareh where his friend and gun were. Navareh told him he did not have either.

Navareh noticed Sasan Partowee being interrogated by a cleric in another room. Navareh could not hear what they were saying. He later discovered that the cleric was Khalkhali—who had just arrived in Sanandaj. Navareh never met with Khalkhali and was returned to the holding room.

At about three a.m. in the morning, two new people were brought into the holding room—Issa Pirvali and H.B.158 Navareh knew both of them—Pirvali was the keeper of a halim (meat porridge) and liver shop in Navareh’s neighborhood. Navareh recalls:

None of us slept that night. All night long the door opened and closed as people went in and out. The next day, Darwish Issa [Pirvali], Naser Salimi and H.B. were taken before Khalkhali, the “judge.” These trials were just formalities and only lasted a few minutes. There was no court manager, defense attorney or even a secretary! Whoever came out of that room said that the only person they spoke to was the akhoond.

According to Ettelaat newspaper, Naser Salimi was charged with “acting to separate Kurdistan from Iran and participating in the bloody massacre of Paveh.”159 The paper further claimed that Salimi was shot in the hand while fighting in Paveh. However, Salimi strongly disputed this version of events. According to Navareh:

Naser Salimi—the man in the [Pulitzer Prize winning] photo whose hand is injured—came out [from meeting with Khalkhali] and told us: these jerks are accusing me of being injured in combat with them but my hand was injured at home and this cut was the result of a knife. He told me that he was at home when the jash working for Moftizadeh arrested him. The jash were the ones who reported that his hand was injured in combat. They made a case for him.160

The authorities nonetheless arrested him and took him to Sanandaj airport.161 In Razmi’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph, Salimi is the blindfolded man with the heavily bandaged hand in the foreground.162

Similarly, Issa Pirvali denied the accusations against him. As reported in Ettelaat newspaper, Khalkhali accused Pirvali of killing Shater Mohammad and his son in Sanandaj the previous April. About Pirvali’s meeting with Khalkhali, Navareh recounts:


[158] H.B. is a pseudonym.
[159] 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.
[160] Navareh Interview, supra note 146. The term jash refers to Kurdish collaborators. See IHRDC, SURVIVING RAPE IN IRAN’S PRISONS 38 (2011), available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3401-surviving-rape-in-iran-s-prisons.html?p=7 (defining jash).
[161] Navareh Interview, supra note 146.
[162] Joshua Prager, supra note 152.

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