The 31th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou
The 13th of July marks the 31th 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 to 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.
Terrorism has been and remains one of the main instruments of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s statecraft since its establishment. During the past four decades, hundreds of dissidents and opposition figures have been assassinated and fallen victim to the Iranian regime’s state terrorism in Iran and abroad. Yet, the assassination of Dr. Sadegh Sharafkandi, Dr. Ghassemlou’s successor, and his aids in Berlin in 1992 constitute one of the few cases where the perpetrators were convicted for their crime.
In the case of the assassination of the Dr. Sharafkandi and his aides in Berlin, the German judiciary brought the perpetrators of that terrorist act to justice and held the top leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its intelligence service responsible for the crime.
Dr. Ghassemlou was a visionary leader. He was a firm believer in liberty, democracy, gender equality and the human dignity of the Kurdish people and other oppressed nations. Having lived and worked in Europe for decades, Dr. Ghassemlou was shaped by Western politics and culture, always preferring dialogue and peace. By assassinating Dr. Ghassemlou at the negotiating table, the Iranian regime demonstrated its true and violent nature.
Although thirty years have passed since Dr. Ghassemlou was assassinated, his legacy is enduring. Today, millions of Kurds, including our party, are committed to his ideals and determined to carrying on his struggle.
Biography of Dr. Ghassemlou
Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou was born on 22 December 1930 in the Ghassemlou valley near the Kurdish city of Ûrmiyeh. He went to primary school in Ûrmiyeh and continued his Secondary school in Tehran.
Ghassemlou’s involvement in politics started early in life. At the age of 15, he co-founded the Democratic Youth Union of Iranian Kurdistan. Due to political and national oppression in Kurdistan, his political activities were mostly clandestine.
Ghassemlou attended university in Paris, and later in Prague. In Prague, he meets Helen (Nasrin) Krulich whom he later married and they had two daughters together, Mina (1953) and Hiwa (1955).
He earned a Ph.D. Degree in Economics and was an Associate Professor in both Paris and Prague. He taught International Economics at the Vysoká s´kola ekonomická (“Prague School of Economics”), and thereafter Kurdish studies at the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Dr. Ghassemlou authored several books, book chapters and articles about politics and economics, and some of them have been translated into a number of different languages. His often-cited work Kurdistan and the Kurds (1965) has been until present days consensually recognized as a valuable source, especially regarding the political geography of Kurdistan, the political history of the Kurds and traditional socio-economic relations in Kurdish society.
Besides being an acknowledged scholar and one of the greatest leaders of the Kurds, Dr. Ghassemlou’s excellent diplomatic skills earned him an international reputation, especially in Europe.
Those who knew and worked closely with him during his academic and political career, Kurds as well as Westerners, recall him as a man of quick wit and with a great sense of humor.
Dr. Ghassemlou was elected Secretary General of the PDKI in 1973, and re-elected to lead the party by the PDKI Congresses until his death in 1989. After several decades of political activity, and as the leader of the Kurdish people in Iranian Kurdistan, Dr. Ghassemlou was assassinated in Vienna by the agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran on July 13, 1989. Dr. Ghassemlou was in Austria to negotiate with Iranian representatives on Kurdish rights and self-government for Iranian Kurdistan.
Dr. Ghassemlou, a resolute advocate of the rights of his people and a determined leader who did not rule out guerrilla warfare, was also a man of peace and gave it a chance whenever possible. He went to the negotiating table in good faith.
However, by assassinating the Kurdish leader, the Iranian regime lived up to the entrenched view among the Kurdish nation that it is not trustworthy, and that assassination is part and parcel of its political mindset and practice.