Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou

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Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou
Rahman ghasemlu.jpg
Member-elect of Assembly of Experts for Constitution
In office
Credentials rejected[1]
ConstituencyWest Azerbaijan Province
Majority113,773 (34.9%)
Personal details
Born(1930-12-22)22 December 1930
Urmia, Iran
Died13 July 1989(1989-07-13) (aged 58)
Vienna, Austria
Cause of deathAssassination
Resting placePère Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
Political partyKDPI (1945-1989)
Other political
NCRI (1981–1985)
Spouse(s)Helen Kreulich
EducationCharles University in Prague
University of Sorbonne

Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou (Kurdish: عەبدولڕەحمان قاسملوو‎; 22 December 1930 – 13 July 1989) was an Iranian politician and Kurdish leader. Ghassemlou was the Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) from 1973 until his assassination in 1989 by individuals suspected of being agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Rezaieh, West Azerbaijan, Iran to a wealthy feudal family, his father was Mohammad Vesugh Ghassemlou, a landowning Kurdish nationalist Agha and Khan from the Kurdish Shekak tribe who was born in 1875. His mother was Nana Jan Timsar, an Assyrian Christian. His father was an adviser to the Shah of Iran, who gave him the title "Wussuq-e Divan." He completed his early education in Urmia and then on Tehran. He witnessed the era of the Republic of Mahabad and became a co-founder member of the youth wing of KDP-I at the age of 15. Ghassemlou moved to France to continue his studies at the Sorbonne. He met his wife Helen Krulich in Czechoslovakia. They had two daughters together, Mina (1953) and Hewa (1955).[5][6]

Abd-al-Raḥmān Qāsemlu was fluent in 8 languages; Kurdish, Persian, Arabic, Azerbaijani, French, English, Czech, and Russian. He was also familiar with German, Slovak, and Polish.[7][8][9]


Ghassemlou went back to Kurdistan in 1952 after completing his studies. He then spent several years as an active militant in the Kurdish military fields.[citation needed] 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. Khomeini considered their last hour participation in the revolution as "opportunistic". Kurds belonging to the party had overtaken the military compounds in the Kurdish areas. Khomeini demanded all armed groups to become part of one revolutionary organization and demanded that Kurdish soldiers "return" their weapons. Ghasemlou demanded autonomy for Kurds and refused to lay down weapons. The party boycotted the referendum for the new constitution. Following two bloody confrontation between Kurdish people and forces loyal to Khomeini, the Kurdish struggle turned into a war. Shortly, after the beginning of the armed Kurdish rebellion, Ayatollah Khomeini declared a "holy war" against the PDKI and Kurdistan.[10] This was the start of confrontation of the party and the new state, which ended in a military defeat of the Kurdish rebels. In 1982 Ghassemlou, attempted to overthrow the Shia clerics in an alliance with the former and dismissed president of Iran Abolhassan Banisadr, but Banisadr declined to join his pro-Kurdish alliance due to ambitions for independence among the Kurds.[11] The armed conflict continued up to 1984 in the middle of Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988) where both countries supported the freedom fighters in each other's territory.

After the defeat of the armed rebellion, Ghassemlou settled in Paris and joined the National Council of Resistance of Iran that was founded by the PDKI and other opposition forces: the Islamist-Marxist People's Mujahedin, the liberal-leftist National Democratic Front, the United Left of small socialist groupings, and the independent Islamist-leftist former president of Iran Abolhassan Bani Sadr, in October 1981.[12]


"Kurdistan and Kurd" is a book on the history of Kurds and their land written by Ghassemlou and published in 1964 in Slovak, 1965 in English, 1967 in Arabic, 1969 in Polish, and 1973 in Kurdish.[13][14]

Assassination and funerals[edit]

In 1988, after the war had ended, the Iran government decided to meet with him. Several meetings followed in Vienna,[15] 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 (a member of the PDKI Central Committee) and Fadhil Rassoul, an Iraqi Kurdish 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.[16][17] 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 a hospital, questioned and allowed to go. Amir Mansur Bozorgian was released after 24 hours in police custody and took refuge in the Iranian Embassy.[18]

His deputy, Sadegh Sharafkandi, succeeded Ghassemlou as secretary-general until his assassination on 17 September 1992 in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, Germany. Abdullah Ghaderi Azar and Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou were buried on July 20 in Paris at Père Lachaise Cemetery.


According to PDKI

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.[19]

The three representatives of Iran's government in the negotiations with the Kurdish leaders returned to Iran freely. One of them had never been in custody, one was escorted by Austrian police to the Vienna airport nine days after the assassination, and the third, after one night of the arrest, spent a few months in the Iranian embassy in Vienna before he disappeared from Austria. One of the suspects was Mohamed Magaby, whom the Kurdish protesters in Vienna requested to be arrested and be put under travel ban. Warrants for their arrest were not issued until November 1989. The warrants have never been executed. Unlike the German Mykonos trial for the assassination of Ghassemlou's successor Sadegh Sharafkandi in Berlin, the assassination in Vienna was never clarified by any court. The Mykonos verdict of 1 April 1997 put the responsibility on the Iranian government of the time for the murders in Berlin and in Vienna.[20]


  1. ^ "The 1979 Assembly of Experts for the Drafting of the Constitution Election", The Iran Social Science Data Portal, Princeton University, archived from the original on 2015-09-24, retrieved 10 August 2015
  2. ^ "Dr A. R. Ghassemlou". www.saradistribution.com.
  3. ^ Asso Hassan Zadeh. "The Legacy of Abdulrahman Ghassemlou, 25 Years After His Assassination". Rudaw.
  4. ^ Prunhuber, Carol (2020). "Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou and the Kurdish Resistance in Iran". The Kurds in the Middle East: Enduring Problems and New Dynamics.
  5. ^ Fatehi, Tara (27 September 2012). "Dr Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou". Medya Magazine.
  6. ^ "Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou". Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. 1 September 2017.
  7. ^ "Dr Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou". Sara Distribution. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  8. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  9. ^ Prunhuber, Carol (2010). The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd: Dreaming Kurdistan. iUniverse. ISBN 9781440178160. Archived from the original on 2013-08-25. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
  10. ^ "Praguer Ghassemlou". Yekta Uzunoglu. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  11. ^ Entessar, Nader (1992). Kurdish Ethnonationalism. Lynn Rienner Publishers. pp. 130–131. ISBN 978-1-55587-250-2.
  12. ^ Sreberny-Mohammadi, Annabelle; Ali Mohammadi (January 1987). "Post-Revolutionary Iranian Exiles: A Study in Impotence". Third World Quarterly. 9 (1): 108–129. doi:10.1080/01436598708419964. JSTOR 3991849.
  13. ^ Ghassemlou, D. Abdul R. (2006). Kurdistan and Kurd (Kurdish ed.). Erbil: Rojhalat. p. 349.
  14. ^ "40 Ans de Luttes: Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou" 2020, French, Préface Gérard Chaliand, Introduction et Traduction de David Tokmatchi https://www.amazon.fr/40-Ans-Luttes-Abdul-Rahman-Ghassemlou/dp/B084DG2K9K/ref=sr_1_1?__mk_fr_FR=%C3%85M%C3%85%C5%BD%C3%95%C3%91&dchild=1&keywords=ghassemlou&qid=1612645629&s=books&sr=1-1
  15. ^ "USA: Iran's assassination of Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou". YouTube.
  16. ^ "Hostage - 4". Yekta Uzunoglu. Retrieved 2018-07-04.
  17. ^ Dan Geist (6 August 2011). "'A Darker Horizon': The Assassination of Shapour Bakhtiar". PBS. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  18. ^ "The life and death of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou (1930-1989". Archived from the original on 2011-08-19.
  19. ^ "Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou Profile" (in Central Kurdish). Archived from the original on 2011-03-11.
  20. ^ Roya Hakakian (4 October 2007). "The End of the Dispensable Iranian". Spiegel Online International. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Ahmad Tofiq
Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan
Succeeded by
Sadegh Sharafkandi