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

3.3. Mariwan

Khalkhali and his entourage arrived in the town of Mariwan on August 25. The small Kurdish town is in Kurdistan Province near the Iran-Iraq border. It had been a center of resistance against the Shah.109 Tensions between the Kurds of Mariwan and pro-Khomeini forces escalated throughout the spring and summer of 1979, finally culminating in a shootout between pasdaran and Kurds on July 14 that resulted in 26 deaths and over 60 injuries on both sides.110

A delegation was sent from Sanandaj to help negotiate peace between the various political groups in the town. The negotiations resulted in a resolution by the people of Mariwan demanding, among other things, that pasdaran leave the town and that local law enforcement ensure that people not be randomly searched or arrested.111 However, the residents of Mariwan fled into the mountains outside the city on the eve of July 20.112 Malekeh Mostafa Soltani—a Mariwan resident - explains:

[After the shootout] the government threatened that the pasdaran would enter the town and take control. People worried that if that were to happen, a situation like that of Naghadeh113 would be created. Finally my brother [Komala leader Foad Mostafa Soltani] helped come up with a plan. One day in the mosque, as people expressed their concerns, my brother proposed that in order to prevent a war from happening in town—and in protest to the government’s desire to have Sepah take control of the town—we would migrate, en masse. That night almost the entire town migrated to a location near the woods, about 10-15 kilometers out of the city. We remained there for around 2 weeks.114

Mariwan – circa 2010

On July 23, a delegation comprised of representatives of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Interior Ministry, the Sepah-e Pasdaran and the military led by Ayatollah Lahuti arrived in Mariwan to negotiate the return of Mariwan’s residents. The delegation returned to Tehran the next day without reaching a resolution.115 Negotiations continued between the Mariwan city council, the provincial governor of Kurdistan Province, and a central government delegation headed by Dr. Chamran while roughly 7,000 men, women, and children remained in the makeshift camp set up between the villages of Kani Miran and Bardeh Reh Sheh.116 Finally, on August 13, after agreement was reached, the residents began returning to town.


[109] MCDOWALL, supra note 4, at 258.
[110] Mariwan bih Atash va Khun Kishidih Shud [Mariwan in Fire and Blood], ETTELAAT, [July 15, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html; SAYAR, supra note 39, at 91; IHRDC Interview with Malakeh Mostafa Soltani (Feb. 10, 2011) (on file with IHRDC) [hereinafter Malakeh Soltani Interview].
[111] Mariwan Aram Shud [Calm Restored in Mariwan], ETTELAAT, [July 16, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[112] Angizihyih Kuch-i Mardum-i Mariwan Hanuz Ma’lum Nashudih Ast [The Motivation Behind the Migration of the People of Mariwan Still Unclear], ETTELAAT, [July 22, 1979]; Buhran-i Mariwan Idamih Darad [Mariwan Crisis Continues], ETTELAAT, [July 24, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[113] Naghadeh is a town in the province of West Azerbaijan. In April 1979, fierce fighting ethnic Azeris and Kurds lasted for several days and resulted in about 30 casualties. See Artish bih Suyih Naghadeh Harikat Kard [Army Deployed Toward Naghadeh], ETTELAAT, [Apr. 22, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[114] Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110.
[115] Buhran-i Mariwan Idamih Darad ]Mariwan Crisis Continues[, ETTELAAT, [July 24, 1979], available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.
[116] 7000 Kudak va Zan va Mard-i Mariwani dar Sharayit-i Dushvar Zindigi Mikunand [7000 Child and Woman and Men From Mariwan Live Under Harsh Conditions], ETTELAAT, [July 30,1979]; Avarigan-i Mariwan Pishnivis-i Qat’namihyih Bazgasht bih Shahr ra Rad Kardand [The Mariwan Displaced Citizens Rejected the Draft of the Resolution for Returning to the City], ETTELAAT, [July 30, 1979], available athttp://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.

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