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

Under such conditions we could not merely watch and stand away from the action and say, people of Kurdistan should be left to their own devices. Particularly considering that 98% of the Kurdish people, with the exception of some nuevo riche kids, are Muslims who participate in Friday prayers. In this midst, feeling responsible as the commander-in-chief, Imam felt that the government may act in an un-revolutionary manner so he ordered the military to crush the Democrats.191

Regarding his activities in Saqqez, he claimed that “70 of our military men and pasdaran disappeared” and that they were “handed over by Dr. Niloufari and his buddies to the Democrats and they in turn took the hostages to Iraq.” He complained that if he were to sentence Dr. Niloufari to death, “international rights and human rights supporters would make a move stating that I intend to uproot physicians in this country.” Addressing rumors that he had sentenced a 12 year old boy to death in Mahabad, Khalkhali said

These people were present. They saw that we only sentenced people to execution who were either present in the trenches or had come from outside of the country. We arrested people in Paveh who were Christians. What was a Christian doing there?

Khalkhali also claimed that Sheikh Hosseini had previously received money from SAVAK. One of the clerics at the meeting opined that they did not want to be dealt with the way the Westerners said and wrote about. Khalkhali responded that:

Americans can write what they want and the Europeans can say what they like. We don’t pay any attention to them. They had written in their newspapers that the military can’t reach Mahabad for another three years. We are the Islamic Republic and this is a pattern to follow. You should not pay any attention to these writings. Has the military and pasdaran killed anyone so far since they entered Mahabad? Or have they looted a house? You should not repeat these rumors.

Ettelaat newspaper reported that pasdaran wanted to arrest a member of the city council attending the meeting but Khalkhali instructed that nobody was to be detained. The local clerics promised that there would be no more demonstrations in the city. But, a young man stood and said that a resolution had been issued by the people of Mahabad and its surroundings. Khalkhali asked how many people had signed the resolution. The man admitted that it was not signed but Khalkhali asked him to read the resolution. The paper quoted the reading of the resolution:

Article one – the religious and political leaders of the Kurds whose blood is one and the same with the blood of the Kurdish people should not be insulted in any way at all.
Article two – the Mojahedin should not be given permission to enter the city and the surrounding villages of Kurdistan and the Kurdish residing areas.
Article three – general amnesty for all the Kurdish people including the leaders of the Kurdish parties.

Khalkhali interrupted to say “we don’t accept Ezzedin Hosseini and Ghassemlou as the leaders of the Kurds and the Mojahedin will go everywhere.” The young man continued reading the resolution:


[191] Ikhtar-i Shadid-i Khalkhali dar Mahabad [Serious Warning of Khalkhali in Mahabad], ETTELAAT, [Sept. 9, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.

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