Carol Prunhuber: Our demand has never changed. We insist that justice be done
The 13th of July marks the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. A. R. Ghassemlou, one of the prominent leaders of the Kurdish nation and former General-Secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), along with his aide Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar, PDKI’s representative in Europe.
On the 13th of July, 1989, negotiations between the PDKI and Iran took place at the initiative of the Iranian government in Vienna, Austria. Dr. Ghassemlou and the Kurdish delegation went to the negotiating table in good faith, believing that after nearly a decade of war, the Iranian regime was interested in finding a peaceful solution of the Kurdish question. However, the Iranian diplomats assassinated Dr. Ghassemlou and the other members of the Kurdish delegation.
Unfortunately, instead of prosecuting the perpetrators of this crime, the Austrian authorities escorted the terrorists to Vienna airport to facilitate their return to Iran.
Carol Prunhuber, a writer and journalist born in Caracas, Venezuela to a well-known Venezuelan actress and an American father in 1956, met the Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou in 1983. Through the French agency Gamma TV, Carol traveled to Iranian Kurdistan, via Baghdad in 1985 to film the struggle of the Kurds in Iran. Following three years of detailed research and interviews, Carol completed the writing of The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd.
On the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. A. R. Ghassemlou and Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar, Carol sends the following message to the PDKI and the Kurdish people:
30 years, 30 years of impunity and obstruction of justice
30 years ago, Dr. A.R. Ghassemlou, Abdulla Ghaderi-Azar, PDKI’s representative in Europe and another member of the Kurdish delegation were murdered in Vienna while negotiating a peaceful solution to the Kurdish situation in Iran.
This tragedy was a trap meant to silence a charismatic man who had led his people in a long struggle against a terrorist, criminal regime. Ghassemlou had become a respected and valued interlocutor for many Western governments.
Truthfully, we are here today, not only to denounce once again this political assassination – but to point out the silence and complicit of a democratic western country. When Oswald Kessler, chief of the Austrian Staatspolizei, the national security police force, arrived on the crime scene, he said: “We’ve got dead Kurds and surviving Iranians. The matter is clear. The rest will be politics.”
And politics it was. The Austrian authorities held-up the investigation through the breach of normal procedures: Two of the assassins were prematurely released, the case was taken away from Kessler and then given to the local police. Thus, the investigation was laid to rest. There it has stayed for the last 30 years.
Our demand has never changed. We insist that justice be done. The Austrian authorities must release whatever findings they had—until they decided to put the case to sleep in oblivion. The perpetrators, as well as the top leadership and intelligence services of the Islamic Republic of Iran, must all be brought to justice.
For the last 30 years I have written and spoken about Dr. Ghassemlou’s life, his work and his assassination. It has been an honor to have known this visionary man and seen his profound love for his people. The regime thought that by shooting him, they could erase his legacy. They were wrong—for his struggle to gain rights and dignity for the Kurds as well as liberty and democracy for Iran and the region continue to burn strong in the hearts of his nation.
Dreaming Kurdistan – The Life and Death of Kurdish Leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou – Carol Prunhuber
This book follows the life and brutal assassination of Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, the Iranian Kurdish leader who was killed while negotiating a supposed peace accord for his people with Iranian government emissaries in Vienna, Austria 1989. Countless elements remain unresolved in this political assassination. The culpability of the Iranian government is clearly spelled out, yet jurisdiction has never been passed on the perpetrators.
Combining historical and political analysis with journalistic testimony, this story depicts real events reconstructed through political documents and speeches, police reports, taped material, letters, interviews, and the author’s own first-hand knowledge of Ghassemlou. His destiny brought him to significant events of the twentieth century that laid the groundwork for his future role: the Soviet occupation of northeast Kurdistan in 1941; the coup d’état organized by the CIA and the British secret services against the Iranian Prime Minister Mossadeq in 1953 and the installment of the Reza Pahlavi, Shah of Iran; the end of the Spring of Prague with the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet tanks in 1968; the beginnings of a certain autonomy in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1970 and the ensuing negotiations between the Kurdish leader, Mustapha Barzani and Saddam Hussein. Preeminent in this list is the determined rebellion of the Iranian Kurds against Khomeini in 1979.
The new and revised version of Dr. Ghassemlou’s biography Dreaming Kurdistan: The Life and Death of Kurdish Leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou has just been published in the United States by Peter Lang Publishing.