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

Ettelaat newspaper reported that Ayatollah Khalkhali claimed the nine men were executed on account of “direct participation in Mariwan’s events” and “gathering armed individuals.”134 However, witnesses report that they were executed within hours of his arrival, belying any claim that the sentences were handed down after fair trials. It is unclear whether they were even told the charges against them.135 Additional evidence that the executions were a foregone conclusion comes from family members. Nasimi’s sister worked in Mariwan Hospital as a nurse. On the day of the executions, August 26, she was told that a doctor had been taken to the military base to medically examine the detainees because they were to be executed.

The bodies of the executed men were piled into a dump truck and deposited in front of Mariwan hospital—witnesses report that the bodies were piled on top of one another. Gunshot wounds punctured the bodies.137 Malakeh Mostafa Soltani recalls:

I was with Hossein’s wife. When we got to the hospital I saw a Toyota truck. In the back of the truck I saw the face of Hossein Pirkhezri. We ran towards the truck. My sister-in-law’s father asked where we were going. My sister-in-law screamed: can’t you see the body of my husband’s friend Hossein Pirkhezri is there! She wanted to go with it. He said: don’t do that, our own dead are somewhere else.
I saw a pool of blood and Amin’s body. His eyes were open. His mouth looked as if he was smiling. I screamed in Kurdish: we need medicine, we need a doctor. Rasa, my brother Hossein’s wife, screamed at me saying what do we need a doctor for? He has been executed. His internal organs were poking out of lacerations on his body. Someone lifted me up and put me and Amin’s body in the back of a Toyota. By the time we arrived at our village on the outskirts of Mariwan, the skirt of my Kurdish dress was soaked with blood and brain matter. How savagely he was killed! 138

The Mostafa Soltanis took the bodies of Hossein and Amin back to their village on the outskirts of Mariwan for burial.139 However, the military presence was so intense that the clan could not conduct a traditional funeral and memorial service. 140 Jalal Nasimi’s family buried their son in Mariwan’s cemetery. The family also accepted the body of Bahman Akhzary, the doctor from Tehran who had been arrested in the car with the Mostafa Soltani brothers, and buried him next to their son.141

3.4. Sanandaj

Khalkhali’s next destination was Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan Province and a center of social and economic activity in the region.142 Although it is not clear whether he arrived on August 26 or 27, it was reported that he issued execution orders on August 27 and that they were carried out the same day.143 As he had in Paveh and Mariwan, Khalkhali questioned men and boys who had been arrested without warrants and sentenced them, without any semblance of fair trials, to death by firing squad.


[134] 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.
[135] Heshmat Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 123.
[136] Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110.
[137] Id.; Hajir Interview, supra note 133; Abdullah Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 50.
[138] Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110.
[139] Id.; Abdullah Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 50.
[140] Malakeh Mostafa Soltani Interview, supra note 110.
[141] Id.; Hajir Interview, supra note 133.
[142] ENTESSAR, supra note 6, at 36.
[143] See 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] (reporting that Khalkhali concluded his business in Mariwan on Aug. 26 and was in Sanandaj the next day), available at http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/3507-1979-newspapers.html.

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