Friday marks the 29th anniversary since suspected Iranian operatives assassinated Kurdish leader Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou while in Vienna, Austria, for peace talks on July 13, 1989.
Ghassemlou, an intellectual who had taught at Charles University in Prague until the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia, became president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in 1971.
He returned to Iran in 1979, attracting hundreds of thousands of followers among Kurds, as he militarized the KDPI during the Islamic Revolution.
Kurdish areas were an anomaly because nationalist sentiment for Iran became the main theme in Kurdistan while Islamists obtained popular support elsewhere.
As the Iranian regime was not ready to provide the Kurds with any type of autonomy, a deadly struggle began between Iranian Peshmerga forces and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The first Supreme Leader of Iran, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini labeled him "the enemy of God.”
Ghassemlou was born in 1930 in Urmia to a Kurdish family of landlords.
After the assassination, the Iranian government pressured Austria to return the Iranian representatives freely. Arrest warrants for the three Iranians were not issued until November of 1989. They remain active.
One of the representatives, Mohammed Jafar Sahraroudi, was wounded in the shooting and hospitalized. He now serves as the head of Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani’s office.