July 13, 2016, marks the 27th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou by Iranian diplomats in Vienna, Austria. PDKI has in the past called on the Kurdish people in eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan to stage general strikes to commemorate the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou. This year, PDKI calls for a general strike against the backdrop of the party’s new strategy of interlocking the struggle of our Peshmega Forces in the mountains with the struggle of the Kurdish people in the cities.
Taimor Mustafai, a senior PDKI official, announced PDKI’s call for a general strike at a press conference today, July 11.
Addressing the Kurdish people, he stated that “the more we join forces in resisting the Iranian regime, the more it will back down and the less resistance [the Iranian regime] faces, the more brutal it becomes.”
Mustafai pointed to the sacrifices of PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces this summer and called on the Kurdish people to reciprocate these sacrifices by heeding the party’s call for a general strike and civil disobedience.
Mustafai also revealed new data on PDKI’s struggle against the Islamist regime since 1979. From 1979 to 1996, when PDKI waged a popular insurgency against the Iranian regime, more than 23,000 members of Iran’s Islamic revolutionary guards were killed. This figure does not include casualties from Iran’s other armed forces. During the same period, i.e. 1979-1996, PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces carried out 17,500 military operations, in which approximately 5000 Peshmergas were martyred.
Dr. A. R. Ghassemlou, one of the prominent leaders of the Kurdish nation, was assassinated by Iranian diplomats during peace talks in Vienna on July 13, 1989. The Iranian diplomats-cum-terrorists were arrested shortly after the murder. Instead of investigating the murders and putting the assassins on trial, Austrian authorities sent them back to Tehran.
Dr. Ghassemlou was in Austria to negotiate with Iranian representatives on Kurdish rights and self-rule for eastern Kurdistan. The negotiations were launched at the initiative of the Iranian government.
Dr. Ghassemlou, a resolute advocate of the rights of his people and a determined leader who did not rule out guerrilla warfare, was a man of peace and gave it a chance whenever possible. He went to the negotiating table in good faith.
By assassinating Dr. Ghassemlou, 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.
It was the “pragmatist” or so-called moderate faction of Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the president of Iran at the time, that called for secret talks with PDKI. The Rafsanjani faction urged the PDKI to hold secret talks in order to prevent “hardline” factions within the Iranian regime from sabotaging the talks. Yet it turned out to be a plot. The assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou was ordered by Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, Rafsanjani and other senior leaders of the islamist regime in Tehran. The assassination was planned by the Iranian regime’s intelligence agency and was carried out in concert with Iran’s Foreign Ministry.
Following the assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou in 1989 and the assassination of Dr. Sharafkandi in 1992, PDKI’s new leadership has decided not to trust the Iranian regime.
PDKI is committed to a peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue and does not rule out negotiations. Nevertheless, we have come to the conclusion that there are no fundamental ideological or political differences between the various factions within the Islamist regime in Iran with respect to the Kurdish issue and other issues of concern to the international community, such as human rights, terrorism, the nuclear program, destabilization and domination of the Middle East etc.
PDKI’s new strategy of continuing and reinvigorating the party’s decades-long struggle in pursuit of the liberty of the Kurdish nation is multifaceted. While we give priority to the role of our Peshmerga Forces to that end, we also call on the Kurdish people in eastern Kurdistan to stage general strikes and to engage in other forms of civil disobedience.
We know from experience that the Iranian regime does not tolerate any kind of strikes and civil disobedience in Kurdistan. In the past, the Islamist regime in Iran has used various intimidating and violent means in prevent the Kurdish people from commemorating their fallen leaders.
Nevertheless, in implementing its new strategy of interlocking the struggle of our Peshmerga Forces in the mountains and the struggle of the Kurdish people in the cities, PDKI takes the long view and has patience.
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. Later, he continued his studies in Tehran.
Ghassemlou’s involvement in politics started early in life. He was, at the age of 15, one of the founders of Democratic Youth Union of Iranian Kurdistan. Due to the Iranian government’s oppression of the Kurdish people, his political activities mostly took a clandestine form.
Ghassemlou attended university in Paris and Prague. In Prague, he meets Helen (Nasrin) Krulich, whom he later married. 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, later, Kurdish studies at Sorbonne University in Paris.
Dr. Ghassemlou authored several books and articles about politics and economics. Some of his works have been translated into a number of different languages. His oft-cited work Kurdistan and the Kurds (1965) has been consensually recognized as a valuable source, especially regarding the political geography of Kurdistan, political history of the Kurds and Kurdistan, as well as traditional socio-economic relations in Kurdish society.
In addition to his status as a prominent scholar and one of the greatest leaders of the Kurds, Dr. Ghassemlou’s excellent diplomatic skills earned him an international reputation, especially in Europe.
Dr. Ghassemlou was elected Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) in 1973. He was re-elected to lead the party until his death in 1989.
Dr. Ghassemlou was a resolute advocate of the rights of the Kurdish nation and a determined leader. Although Dr. Ghassemlou strived for a just and peaceful resolution of the Kurdish issue, he did regard armed struggle as a legitimate means to defend the integrity of the Kurdish people.
After several months of attempts to persuade the post-revolutionary regime to accept the political demands of the Kurdish national liberation movement, Dr. Ghassemlou eventually realized that the new regime was only interested in buying time in order to rebuild its armed forces with the aim of reoccupying Kurdistan. The reoccupation of Kurdistan marked the beginning of a long and bitter war.
Dr. Ghassemlou had been saying for years that the Islamic Republic of Iran had imposed the war on the Kurdish people. He argued, contrary to the understanding of the Islamic Republic, that the war was not a zero-sum game and that, sooner or later, the Kurdish question would have to be resolved through negotiations and peacefully, and that Kurdish demands should be accommodated within such a framework.
In 1988, Tehran contacted PDKI and proposed negotiations for a solution to the Kurdish issue.
PDKI accepted the offer. Negotiations took place at the end of 1988 and continued in the summer of 1989.
On July 13, the second day of the negotiations in Vienna, Dr. Ghassemlou, Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar, PDKI’s representative in Europe, and Fadhil Rassoul, a Kurdish university professor in Vienna, were assassinated by the Iranian diplomats.
The next day, at about 7:30 p.m., Vienna police discovered the bodies of Dr. Ghassemlou, Ghaderi-Azar and Rassoul. Within hours, the police had recovered the murder weapons, detained two suspects and identified a third.
Austrian authorities sent the two suspects back to Tehran. They were even escorted to Vienna airport under police protection.
Dr. Ghassemlou and Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar were buried in Paris on July 20.
Those who ordered the murder of Dr. Ghassemlou were:
Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran (who succeed Ayatollah Khomeini after his death in 1989).
Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who served as President of Iran from 1989 to 1997.
Ali Akbar Velayati, Foreign Minister of Iran from December 1981 to August 1997.
Ali Akbar Fallahiyan, Intelligence Minister from 1984 to 1989, who is on Interpol’s wanted list in connection with the Assassination of Dr. Ghassemlou’s successor, Dr. Sharafkandi.