Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Meeting with Ashaful Ilam, General Secretary of the Awami League, Bangladesh, followed by lunch with Ursula Smartt. Then a quick visit to the Breastfeeding picnic in Parliament Square. At 18.00, chaired and introduced (see my speech below) a meeting to mark the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Abdurrahman Ghassemlou Secretary-General of the Kurdish Democratic Party by Iranian agents, then about 22.30, moved an amendment to the Education and Skills Bill on the education of Gypsies and Travellers from 16-18.

July 13 was the 19th anniversary of the brutal and ruthless assassination of Abdul-Rahman Ghassemlou, the Leader of the KDP, He was in Vienna expressly to continue negotiations with Tehran which had started the previous winter. The day before, there had been a meeting with the Iranians at the apartment where he was staying at 5 Linkebahn gasse. On the KDP side in addition to Ghassemlou there were Abdullah Ghaderi-Azar and Professor Fadhil Rasoul, while the Iranians had Mohammed Jafar Sahraroudi, who had been deputy commander of the 15th Corps of the Pasdaran, the revolutionary guards, based in the city of Khormanshagh; Hadji Moustafawi, said to be the chief of the Vienna Bureau 0f Iranian terrorists, and Amir Mansoor Bozorgian, a defector from the KDP who had become an agent of the regime, and carried a diplomatic passport. The day after the meeting, shortly after 19.00 local time, Mr Ghassemlou was killed by three bullets fired at close range. Mr Ghaderi-Azar was hit by 11 bullets, and Fadhil Rasoul by five.

The Austrian police suspected that the killings were perpetrated by Iranian agents, and they issued arrest warrants for Bozorgian and Mustafawi on minor charges. At first the Iranian Embassy gave permission for Bozorgian to be questioned, but then cancelled the appointment. The Austrian Foreign Minister, Alois Mock, said it was ‘probable’ that Iran was behind the murders.

In spite of the strong suspicions, Sahraroodi was allowed to leave Austria on July 29 on the basis that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to have him arrested, and a fourth man, identified only as Montazer, who was said to have been waiting outside the apartment to drive the murderers away, also left with permission on the same day. The newspaper Der Standard wrote:

”The authorities did everything to facilitate the departure of witnesses and suspects to avoid light being shed”.

It was clear that the Austrians didn’t want any trouble with Tehran, and were doing their best to ensure that the police investigation would get nowhere. Nor was any protest made to the Iranian government for this frightful atrocity. But this was not the only assassination perpetrated by Iranian government killers abroad. Three years later they murdered Dr Ghassemlou’s successor Dr Sadegh Sharafkandi and three of his colleagues in the Mykonos restaurant in Berlin, a crime that was masterminded by the regime’s Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian. The former Prime Minister of Iran, Shapour Bakhtiar, and his aide Soroush Katibeh were stabbed to death in his home outside Paris in 1991, according to The Independent on the orders of then President Rafsanjani. And there are many more examples.

Nobody wants an armed conflict with Iran except a handful of extremists in the US Republican Party. But these appalling murders shouldn’t go unpunished. We should make it clear to the Iranian authorities that as part of any deal to improve relations with Europe, we expect them to acknowledge these crimes and bring those responsible to justice.

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