Demanding Accountability for the Assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou and Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar
July 13 marks the 34th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. A. R. Ghassemlou, a distinguished leader of the Kurdish nation and former General-Secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), and his aide Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar, the PDKI’s representative in Europe.
On that fateful day in 1989, negotiations between the PDKI and Iran were underway in Vienna, Austria, at the initiative of the Iranian government. Dr. Ghassemlou and the Kurdish delegation approached the negotiating table in good faith, hoping that after years of conflict, the Iranian regime was genuinely seeking a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question. Tragically, the Iranian diplomats committed an act of assassination and ruthlessly murdered Dr. Ghassemlou and other members of the Kurdish delegation.
Unfortunately, instead of ensuring that the perpetrators of this heinous crime, which occurred right in the heart of Europe and within a democratic nation, face justice, the Austrian authorities, facilitated their escape by escorting the terrorists to Vienna airport and allowing them to return to Iran. This failure to hold the perpetrators of the assassination accountable represents a deeply rooted and historic injustice that demands immediate attention and correction. The disturbing revelation that this failure occurred in the midst of commercial negotiations with the Iranian regime raises serious concerns about the prioritization of economic interests over the pursuit of justice and the protection of fundamental human rights. Economic interests must never overshadow an unwavering commitment to justice and the protection of fundamental human rights.
Europe, known for its strong stance on the principles of democracy and human rights, must take the lead in demanding justice for the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou and Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar. It is incumbent upon European nations, in cooperation with international organizations and bodies, to pursue all available avenues to bring the perpetrators and their accomplices to justice.
By opening the case and pursuing justice, Europe, and the international community, including the current Austrian government, will send a strong message to the Iranian regime: that acts of terror will not be forgotten, that justice will prevail, and that those who seek to undermine peace and stability will be held accountable. This commitment to justice will also honor the memory of Dr. Ghassemlou and all those who have tragically fallen victim to such acts of violence by the Iranian regime over the past four decades.
The assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou and Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar is not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern of state-sponsored terrorism by the Iranian regime. Terrorism has been one of the main instruments of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s statecraft since its establishment. Over the past four decades, countless dissidents and opposition figures have fallen victim to the Iranian regime’s state-sponsored terrorism, both inside and outside Iran’s borders. Among these acts of brutality, the assassination of Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi, Dr. Ghassemlou’s successor, and his aides in Berlin in 1992 stands as one of the few cases where the perpetrators were convicted for their crime.
The German judiciary demonstrated its commitment to justice by holding the perpetrators accountable for the terrorist act in Berlin, and it rightly held the top leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the regime’s intelligence service responsible for this heinous act. This case provides compelling and indisputable evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran is actively engaged in carrying out acts of terror while simultaneously sponsoring terrorism within and beyond its borders.
The steadfast determination and unwavering commitment of the German judiciary to uphold the principles of justice in the case of the assassination of Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi should serve as an inspiring example to the international community, including the current Austrian government.
Dr. Ghassemlou was a visionary leader who dedicated his life to the ideals of freedom, democracy, gender equality, and the inherent human dignity of the Kurdish people and other oppressed nations. Having spent decades in Europe, he was deeply influenced by Western politics and culture, always prioritizing dialogue and peace as the means to build a better world. The Iranian regime’s assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou at the negotiating table exposed its true nature – a violent and oppressive force that undermines the principles of peace and diplomacy.
Although more than three decades have passed since Dr. Ghassemlou’s tragic assassination, his legacy endures. Today, millions of Kurds, including our party, remain steadfastly committed to his ideals and are determined to carry on his struggle for justice, freedom, and the rights of oppressed nations. Dr. Ghassemlou’s memory serves as a beacon to guide us towards a future where his vision of equality, dignity and peaceful coexistence prevails.
Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan
International Relations Office