Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou

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Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou (Kurdish: عەبدولڕەحمان قاسملوو, Ebdulrehman Qasimlo) (22 December 1930 – 13 July 1989) was a Kurdish political leader.

Ghassemlou was the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) (حیزبی دێموکراتی کوردستانی ئێران - PDKI) from 1973 to 1989, when he was killed by individuals thought to be agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He served as secretary general of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), led the Kurdish nationalist struggle for autonomy and democracy in Iran.

Early and education[edit]

Born in Urmia, West Azarbaijan, Iran to a wealthy feudal family, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was instructed in a Quranic school. He was the son of Mohammad Vesugh Ghassemlou, a landowning Kurdish nationalist Agha who was descended from the Shikak tribe and was born in 1875 and his mother Nana Jan Timsar, also known as Fatima, was a converted Assyrian Christian who converted to Islam. His father was an advisor to the Shah of Iran, who gave him the title "Wussuq-e Divan." After his education in Urmia, he went to training to Tehran. He became the witnesses of the Republic of Mahabad and became a founder member of the youth wing within the KDP-I when he was 15. Ghassemlou started his university studies in France, and pursued them in Czechoslovakia, where he met his wife Helen Krulich. They had two daughters together, Mina (1953) and Hewa (1955).

Abd-al-Raḥmān Qāsemlu received his early education in Urmia, and by the time he was a teenager, he could speak and became fluent in several languages including his mother tongue Kurdish so as Persian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Assyrian, French, English, Czech, Slovak, Russian and familiar with German.[1][2][3]


Ghassemlou went back to Kurdistan in 1952 after completing his studies. He then spent several years as an active militant in the Kurdish political field. In 1973, during the Third Congress of the PDKI, he was elected to the position of secretary general of the party, a position to which he was reelected several times until his assassination.

In 1979, his party supported the revolution which ended in the fall of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. However, the party boycotted the referendum for the new constitution. This was the start of confrontation of the party and the new regime, which ended in a military suppression of the party by the central government. Shortly, after the beginning of the armed Kurdish rebellion, Ayatollah Khomeini declared a "holy war" on the Kurds. Thousands of executions followed in Kurdistan, which were continued up to 1984 in the middle of Iran-Iraq war (1980–1988).

Ghassemlou then settled in Paris and joined the Council of National Resistance that was founded by his group, PDK; and others, namely the Islamic Marxist People's Mujahedin, the liberal-leftist National Democratic Front, the United Left of small socialist groupings, and the independent Islamic leftist Abolhassan Bani Sadr, in October 1981.[4]

Assassination and funerals[edit]

In 1988, after the war had ended, the Iranian government decided to meet with him. Several meetings followed in Vienna, on 28 December, 30 December and 20 January 1989. Another meeting was set up for 13 July, again in Vienna.

The Tehran delegation was as before, namely Mohammed Jafar Sahraroudi and Hadji Moustafawi, except that this time there was also a third member: Amir Mansur Bozorgian who was a bodyguard. The Kurds also had a three-man delegation: Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, his aide Abdullah Ghaderi Azar (member of the PDKI Central Committee) and Fadhil Rassoul, an Iraqi university professor who had acted as a mediator.

The next day, 13 July 1989, in the very room where the negotiation took place, Ghassemlou was killed by three bullets fired at very close range. His assistant Ghaderi Azar was hit by eleven bullets and Rassoul by five. Hadji Moustafawi succeeded in escaping. Mohammad Jafar Sahraroudi received minor injuries and was taken to hospital, questioned and allowed to go. Amir Mansur Bozorgian was released after 24 hours in police custody and took refuge in the Iranian Embassy.[5]

The PDKI his deputy, Sadegh Sharafkandi, succeeded Ghassemlou as secretary general (he was assassinated on 17 September 1992). Abdullah Ghaderi Azar and Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou were buried on July 20 in Paris at Père Lachaise Cemetery.


According to the pdki.org website

In late November 1989 the Austrian courts issued a warrant for the arrest of the three Iranian representatives and the Austrian Government expressly accused the Iranian Government as having instigated the attack on Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou and the two other Kurds.[6]

The three Iranian representatives in the negotiations with the Kurdish leaders could return to Iran as free people, one of them had never been in custody, one was escorted to the Vienna airport nine days after the crime by Austrian police and the third, after one night of arrest, spent a few months in the Iranian embassy in Vienna before he disappeared from Austria. Mohamed Magaby, also known as Mazafar was one of the suspects, which the Kurds protested in Vienna to have him under arrest, and not for him to leave the country. Warrants for their arrest were not issued before November 1989. 20 years after the triple assassination they have not been executed, still. Contrary to the German Mykonos-trial after the murder of Ghassemlou's successor Sadegh Sharafkandi in Berlin the crime in Vienna was never clarified by any court. The Mykonos verdict of 1April 1997 clearly states the responsibility of the then Iranian government for the murders in Berlin and in Vienna.[not in citation given][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Dr Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou". Sara Distribution. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Carol Prunhuber (26 May 2010). "I wrote the book to denounce the assassination by the Iranian regime and the complicity of the Austrian authorities". London, House of Lords. London, House of Lords. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Prunhuber, Carol (2010). The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd: Dreaming Kurdistan. iUniverse. ISBN 9781440178160. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle; Ali Mohammadi (January 1987). "Post-Revolutionary Iranian Exiles: A Study in Impotence". Third World Quarterly 9 (1): 108–129. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ Roya Hakakian (4 October 2007). "The End of the Dispensable Iranian". Spiegel Online International. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 

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