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

While Khalkhali ordered the execution of twenty people on August 28, he cleared another 25 people of their alleged crimes and released them from custody following the cessation of active hostilities in Saqqez.180 But despite the release of these people, he continued to order others alleged to have aided and assisted the Kurdish forces—including teachers and medical professionals—to be executed, jailed or exiled. 181

Charges against medical professionals arose from government claims that personnel at Saqqez hospital refused treatment to injured soldiers and pasdaran.182 Ettelaat newspaper reported that on August 28, Khalkhali sentenced Dr. Niloufari—the head of Saqqez hospital—to exile in the city of Rafsanjan for refusing medical care to pasdaran and soldiers.183

However, there is evidence that pasdaran were treated at the hospital.184 Two Kurdish nurses at Saqqez hospital, Shahla and Nasrin Kaabi, were insistent that all persons wounded in battle be treated—regardless of affiliation. Their brother, Rauf Kaabi, a former member of the Fedaian-e Khalq, recalls that his sisters were even impervious to pressure from him:

During the conflicts, a captured pasdar was sent to Saqqez—where my sisters worked in the town hospital. I was at the operational office of the Fedaian when a couple people came to see me. They said: we need you because your sisters won’t allow us to see the pasdar. Everyone was curious to see what a pasdar looked like—this was novel to us. So I went to the hospital. The first thing my sister Nasrin said to me when she saw me was: So, what is it? You too are here to see a pasdar? I answered in the affirmative. She said: Don’t even entertain the idea! This is a hospital and the pasdar is our patient. We have an obligation to care for him […] In any event, she did not let me, her brother, meet with the pasdar. My sisters were nurses and committed to providing care to their patients, no matter who it was. Yet still the verdict handed down by Khalkhali was that they had collaborated with anti-revolutionaries.

[180] 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 athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[181] Kaabi Interview, supra note 27. On August 31, it was reported that two Kurds had been executed in Zanjan. Thurgood, Iran Brings in Tanks to Force Kurdish Surrender, GUARDIAN, Aug. 31, 1979, at 8, available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[182] Juz’iyat-i Nabard-i Shahr-i Saqqez [The Details of the Battle of the City of Saqqez], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 25, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[183] Chigunigiyih Sudur-i Dastur-i Hamlih bih Saqqez Ilam Shud [The Manner of Issuance of Order of Attack on Saqqez was Announced], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 29, 1979]. See also Chigunigiyih Girugangiriyih Majruhan dar Saqqez [How the Injured Were Taken Hostage in Saqqez], ETTELAAT, [Aug. 30, 1979] (reporting that on August 30, Dr. Niloufari sent injured pasdaran and soldiers to Mahabad and Bukan as hostages of the KDPI, and that, as a result, Khalkhali released Dr. Niloufari upon a guarantee by a third party and a promise that he would retrieve the hostages from Mahabad); Khalkhali Doctor Niloufari ra Azad Kard [Khalkhali Released Dr. Niloufari], ETTELAAT, [Sept. 2, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[184] Kaabi Interview, supra note 27; IHRDC interview with Maruf Kaabi (Feb. 2, 2011) (on file with IHRDC) [hereinafter Maruf Kaabi Interview].

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