Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Jamil Yakhchali


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: August 27, 1979
Location of Killing: Sanandaj Airport, Sanandaj, Kordestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Armed rebellion against the Islamic Republic

About this Case

Information about the execution of Mr. Gamil Yakhchali has been gathered by the Boroumand Foundation from the report “The Demise of Sadeq Khalkhali” by Mansur Boluri (Iranian Political Bulletin, 30 November 2003), and the book Ayam-e Enzava (Times of Solitude) by Ayatollah Khalkhali. Additional information has been drawn from the book Sahifeh-ye Emam by Ayatollah Khomeini, volume 9, the report Murder at Mykonos published by the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, an electronic form sent to Omid by an individual familiar with this case, list of victims of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, as well as the article “A Chilling Photograph’s Hidden History” by Joshua Prager, published in The Wall Street Journal on December 02, 2006. This article tells the story of the photograph of this execution by Mr. Jahangir Razmi. Mr. Yakhchali was student at an industrial-professional high school in Masjed-e Soleyman (Khuzestan province) who had traveled to Sanandaj (Kordestan province). According to the available information, he was a sympathizer of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization.

Mr. Yakhchali’s execution was part of a wave of executions that took place in order to combat the “anti-Revolutionary” elements in Kurdistan. Following the negotiations between the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) and the interim prime minister, several clashes occurred, at times armed, between the Revolutionary Guards and the peshmerga (the militia of the PDKI) particularly in the cities of Sanandaj and Paveh (Kermanshah province). These intensifying conflicts between the new central Shiite government of Iran and the mainly Sunni Kurdistan region concerned the role of minorities in the drafting of the constitution, specification of Shiite as the official state religion, and particularly the autonomy of the region.

Subsequent to conflicts that resulted in some casualties, on August 18, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini issued an order to the military and the armed forces to “move to Paveh and end the fighting…” In the same order, he encouraged them to use force and threatened that: “if they do not move toward Paveh within 24 hours with missiles and tanks and all necessary arsenals, I will hold them accountable. And in case of any infringement of this order, I will treat them in a Revolutionary manner” (Sahifeh-ye Emam, p. 285). On August 19, Ayatollah Khomeini called the PDKI the “party of Satan” and declared it “unofficial and illegal” noting that some of these “anti-Islamic” individuals had boycotted the referendum of April 1, when people went to polls to vote for or against the Islamic regime (ibid p. 311).

In accordance with Khomeini’s order, Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali traveled the western region of Iran and told a reporter from the Ettela’at newspaper: “I will visit all areas of Kurdistan… and will bring to justice anybody who was involved in these bloody plots” (Times of Solitude p. 96). According to Mr. Boluri, Ayatollah Khalkhali condemned at least 58 Kurds to death in the span of 10 days. Mass executions and conflicts continued for many months in that region.

The photograph of this execution was published in the Ettela’at (August 28, 1979). However, the newspaper did not reportedly publish the picture in the version sent to Kordestan province (Mr. Prager’s article). This photograph was also sent to and published by international press, such as The News York Times, The Washington Post, and The Daily Telegraph of London. The same day as the publication of Ettela’at, the religious judge claimed that it was not an authentic picture. On September 9, the Islamic Revolutionary Council, in a communiqué published in Enqelab-e Eslami newspaper, referred to this picture and stated: “If this occurs again, serious decisions will be made.”

The Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, a Marxist Leninist group inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the urban guerilla movements of Latin America, was founded in 1971 by two communist groups opposed to the Pahlavi regime. Following the 1979 revolution, the Organization, which had renounced armed struggle, split over the support to the Islamic Republic and to the Soviet Union. The Fadaiyan Khalq Minority opposed the Islamic Republic and was mainly active in the political arena and the labor movement. The Fadaiyan Khalq Majority considered the Islamic Republic as a revolutionary and anti-imperialist regime and supported it. It shared the views of the Tudeh Party and collaborated with the government. By 1983, however, its political beliefs made its supporters the target of the Islamic Republic’s repression.

Arrest and detention

The circumstances of Mr. Yakhchali’s arrest and detention are not known.


According to Mr. Prager, “10 handcuffed men filled a wooden bench before the judge, a black-bearded Shiite cleric named Sadegh Khalkhali. An injured 11th prisoner lay on a stretcher beside the door. The judge removed his turban… removed his shoes. He put his feet on a chair. Scanning the prisoners through thick eyeglasses, he asked their names. Officers of the court told of the defendants’ alleged crimes.” The trial lasted for about half an hour.


Ettela’at reported the charges brought against Mr. Yakhchali as “rebellion against the Islamic Republic” and stated that he “participated in armed activities” (Aug. 28, 1979).

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of guilt

According to Mr. Prager, quoting the journalist of the news story, “[n]o evidence was presented… It was pure speculation.” According to the same source, one of the defendants was a “sandwich maker, [who] belonged to no political party but possessed a handgun.” It appears that the gun was used as evidence to prove the “murder” charge.


The defendants “denied the accusations” of “of trafficking arms, inciting riots and murder” (Mr. Prager’s article).


The religious judge called Mr. Jamil Yakhchali and 10 other individuals as “corrupt on earth” and condemned them to death. At 4:30 p.m. on August 27, 1979, the defendants were taken in front of a firing squad at Sanandaj airport. One of the defendants “was scared […and] wouldn’t stand… The soldiers instructed a fellow prisoner to hold him” (Mr. Prager’s article). After the shootings of the firing squad, one of the bodyguards of the judge shot each body once to ensure death.

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