Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Gholam Ali (Gholam) Naraki (Keshavarz)

About

Age: 33
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: August 27, 1989
Location of Killing: Larnaca, Cyprus
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial Shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Mr. Keshavarz was a “popular” individual and “dedicated to the people”, who was well-known among activists inside and outside the country and among former political prisoners for having been imprisoned under the Pahlavi regime. He had a great ability in attracting people and gathering them around one another.

Information regarding the extra-judicial execution of Mr. Gholam Ali Naraki (also known as Comrade Bahman Javadi, alias Javad Keshavarz*), son of Mahijan Narakinejad and Gholamhossein Naraki, was published in numerous sources including Expressen (August 28, and 30, 1989), the Associated Press (August 28, 1989), and the Cypriot newspaper Tana (August 28, 1989). Additional information was obtained from the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center’s interviews with Ali Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother (March 15, 2021), Gholam Mohammad Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother (March 8, 2021), Azar Mahloujian, Iranian-Swedish author (December 26, 2020), as well as from interviews with two political activists and researchers residing in Sweden who were friends and fellow fighters of Mr. Kashavarz, Ahmad Eskandari (November 30, 2020), and Bahram Rahmani (January 25, 2021); Gholam Keshavarz’ lecture in Stockholm (August 19, 1989, broadcast on Farideh Arman’s YouTube); interview with Mohammad Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother, YouTube network new channel television (June 2, 2020); Khabar-e Rooz website (August 29, 2019); SvD Svenska Swedish newspaper (August 30, 1989); the New York Times (November 12, 1989); the Washington Post (September 9, 1989); Goteborgs Posten Swedish newspaper (August 28, 1989); and other sources.**

Mr. Keshavarz was a political activist and an employee of the Postal Office. He was born in 1954-55 in the village of Narak in Emamzadeh Jafar rural district, located in Dogonbadan Gachsaran County in Kohgiluyeh-va Boyer-Ahmad Province in Iran. He resided in the city of Malmo in Sweden as a political refugee from 1985 until his death on August 26, 1989. Mr. Keshavarz was a student at Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tehran- Karaj but was unable to complete his university degree due to arrest and imprisonment. (Boroumand Center interview with Mohammad Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother, New Channel Television interview; Eshterak Weblog; Iran Communist Party; YouTube New Channel, August 30, 2019). 

Mr. Keshavarz was a member of the Communist Party of Iran’s Executive Committee, member of the Swedish Trade union Confederation(LO), and a refugees’ rights activist at the time of his death. He had started his political activities in high school. In 1976-77, he was arrested for trying to organize a student protest, and was tortured and sentenced to life in prison, according to persons close to him. He was imprisoned at Tehran’s Evin and Qasr Prisons until December 1978 when political prisoners were released. Early in the winter of 1980, Mr. Keshavarz joined the Communist Fighters Union “Sahand”. He believed in the union of Iran’s political and social groups and organizations, and had repeatedly emphasized that. In September 1982, he was selected to membership in Communist Fighters’ Union’s Esfahan Committee. In the winter of 1984, he went to the “Kurdistan free regions” and established an organization called “the Communist Party of Iran” with other leftist groups, and joined this Party’s organization outside Iran. He was an active member of the Party and editor-in-chief of “Rasaneh”, the party’s publication, until his death. (Boroumand Center interview with Bahram Rahmani, January 25, 2021, Eshterak website). In the final years of his life, Mr. Keshavarz and another group of Iranian political and social activists in Europe actively pursued the establishment of an international federation for Iranian refugees. In his last speech before his murder, he had stressed the necessity of starting this federation, and had emphasized that such an institution should be, before all else, a place “to respond to the refugees’ daily, direct, and immediate problems”.*** (Bouroumand Center interview, January 25, 2021; YouTube Ms. Farideh Arman; Communist Party of Iran). 

In a speech entitled “Why and how Iranian refugees should organize” given in Stockholm one week before his murder, in addition to the necessity of establishing an international, non-partisan organization for Iranian refugees, Gholam Keshavarz had expressed concern regarding “the kidnapping and shooting” of refugees by the Islamic Republic of Iran in neighboring countries such as Turkey and Pakistan. He had changed his appearance at this lecture so that he would not be recognized. (Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother; YouTube Ms. Farideh Arman; interview with Boroumand Center, November 30, 2020, January 25, 2021). 

According to persons close to him, Mr. Kesgavarz was an honest, patient, and kind person and very easy to become friends with. According to Ms. Arman, Mr. Keshavarz was a “popular” individual and “dedicated to the people”, who was well-known among activists inside and outside the country and among former political prisoners for having been imprisoned under the Pahlavi regime. According to Mr. Keshavarz’ brother, he had a great ability in attracting people and gathering them around one another. YouTube new channel, September 15, 1989, and June 2, 2020; Akhbar-e Rooz). 

In 2011, Azar Mahloujian, Iranian-Swedish writer and former person in charge of the "Writers in Prison Committee of Swedish PEN", authored a novel entitled “Meeting in Larnaca” based on the life of Mr. Keshavarz, in which she discussed the details of this political activist’s life. Prior to writing the novel, she traveled to Cyprus twice and gathered documents by going to the police, the public library, Larnaca and Nicosia central hospitals, and the Swedish Embassy in Nicosia where she met with Sweden’s Honorary Consul in Cyprus at the time. According to Ms. Mahloujian, initially, the governments of Sweden and Cyprus were not willing to furnish her with any information about this case, and the Cyprus Police ultimately conditioned any access to Gholam Keshavarz’ file at the police and at the hospital on having an attorney. (Bouroumand Center interview, January 25, 2021; Ava-ye Zan Magazine). 

Communist Party of Iran

The Communist Party of Iran was founded on September 2, 1983, through the merger of several leftist political organizations such as the Union of Communist Militants “Sahand” and the Society of Revolutionary Toilers of Iranian Kurdistan “Komala”. The objective of founding this party was to follow up on and ensure the political and economic demands of Iran’s working class through the establishment of a “Revolutionary Democratic Republic”. The closing statement of the founding congress states: “ … The Communist Party of Iran is a squadron of the world army of the proletariat, with the victory of the revolution and the establishment of a new socialist society as its goal and ideal … From revolutionary Kurdistan where the Communist Party of Iran’s Kurdistan Organization (Komala) is the leader of a mass movement and the organizer of a revolutionary movement, to cities across Iran where communist activity has to continue in the darkest of oppressive conditions and police terror, our Party fights for the organizing of a unified and independent Iranian working class; our Party is the party of workers, the poor, and the disadvantaged and the underprivileged who are fighting for a proletarian government, abolition of private property, and socialism.” (Komonist publication, Communist Party of Iran website). 

Mr. Kesahavarz’ Death

Mr. Keshavarz was always worried about his mother’s health and his intention was to visit her after 8 years. The petition by Ali Naraki (Mr. Keshavarz’ brother) who also resided in Sweden, for a visa in order for his mother and other members of his family to travel to Sweden was denied by the Swedish Foreign Ministry. That was why he decided to visit with his family members in the city of Larnaca in Cyprus. On August 23, 1989, Mr. Keshavarz traveled to Cyprus with his wife and his brother, and his mother and two other members of his family came to Cyprus from Iran. Mr. Keshavarz was worried about the security aspects of this trip and intended to obtain Egyptian visas for his mother and the other members of his family and go to Egypt. He was not able to obtain a visa, however, due to time constraints. (Boroumand Center interviews with Mohammad Naraki, March 8, 2021, and with Ali Naraki, March 15, 2021; YouTube new channel, August 29, 2019). 

Eyewitnesses to Mr. Keshavarz’ extrajudicial execution stated that at 9:15 PM on August 26, 1989, Mr. Keshavarz and 6 members of his family were on Larnaca’s Armenikis Ekklisias Street in Cyprus, walking toward their hotel, when two armed men of between 20 to 25 years old approached them from behind on a motorcycle and called out Mr. Keshavarz by name. When he turned toward the voice, the motorcyclists fired several shots at him, one of which hit him in the temple. The Washington Post and the Swedish newspaper Goteborgs Posten reported (quoting the Cyprus Police) that Gholam Keshavarz was killed with a 7.65 millimeter caliber pistol with a silencer. According to Ms. Arman, Mr. Keshavarz’ wife, who was a witness to the shooting, Mr. Keshavarz was immediately taken from Larnaca to a hospital in Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, where he died at 6 o’clock in the morning of August 27, 1989. One of the other people accompanying Mr. Keshavarz was also shot in the attack and was wounded. (Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki, March 15, 2021; The Associated Press; Boroumand Center documents; the Washington Post; YouTube new channel, August 29, 2019; Goteborgs Posten).

According to Ali Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother and eyewitness to his murder, during their stay in Cyprus, they tried to take all the necessary precautions and would inspect their routes every time Mr. Kashavarz was to travel that route. (Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki). 

Gholam Keshavarz’ body was returned a few days after his murder in Cyprus to Sweden, his country of residence, and was interred in the Stockholm public cemetery in the presence of his wife, mother, and other members of his family (who had accompanied his mother from Iran), Iranians residing abroad, and Swedish activists. Gholam Keshavarz’ gravestone reads in Swedish: “A worker and member of the Communist party of Iran is sleeping here. Workers of the World, Unite.” (Boroumand Center documents). 

Ms. Arman and Mr. Naraki have stated that the day before the murder, a suspicious motorcycle had passed by them. (Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki; YouTube new channel, August 29, 2019). 

Criminal Investigations in Cyprus

On August 29, 1989, a police officer was stationed in front of the hotel where Mr. Keshavarz’ family was staying. The Cyprus Police had expressed concern about the safety of Mr. Keshavarz’ family and stated: “We do not want them to go about unaccompanied. What happened on Saturday evening may happen again. A murderer usually does not want to leave any witnesses.” (Expressen, August 28, 1989). 

The Cyprus Police’s first course of action after Mr. Keshavarz’ murder was to interview every member of his family, including the one who had been shot and was in the hospital. According to Mr. Ahmad Eskandari, researcher and political activist residing in Sweden who went to Cyprus immediately after Mr. Keshavarz’ assassination to help his family, and was also present as a translator in the police’s preliminary investigations, the police’s actions were “unprofessional”; he further stated: “It was more like a question and answer session that was conducted as a routine administrative task. I felt like there was no desire for them to go and investigate and find out who was behind [the murder]. [On the contrary,] it was extremely important for them that the story got as little exposure as possible. (Boroumand Center interview, November 30, 2020; Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki). 

The Cyprus police found the murder weapon and a silencer wrapped in a plastic bag, as well as a green t-shirt, at a house 150 meters from the scene of the murder.

A few days after Mr. Keshavarz’ murder, a Swedish newspaper reported that the Cyprus police had recovered the murder weapon and that “the weapon had arrived in Cyprus in a diplomatic suitcase”. Ms. Arman stated this regarding the recovered weapon: “This weapon belongs to the Iranian Armed Forces. The Police said that two Palestinians [belonging to] Hezbollah were involved in this operation and were directed by the Islamic Republic embassy.” On August 28, 1989, Stelios Karayas, the Head of the Cyprus Criminal Investigations Bureau stated that the Bureau did not have any information regarding the motive for the killing but had not ruled out political motives. He also stated that the police “had discovered the murder weapon and a silencer wrapped in a plastic bag, as well as a green t-shirt, in a house 150 meters away from the scene of the crime.” (Espressen, August 28, 1989; Associated Press, August 28, 1989; Goteborgs Posten, August 28, 1989; SvD Svenska; Tana; YouTube new channel, August 30, 1989). 

The German Federal High Court’s Decision in the case known as the Mikonos Case (footnote) dated May 5, 1996, alludes to the murders of Mr. Ali Mohammadi (Iranian pilot (captain) killed in Hamburg, Germany on July 16, 1987) and Mr. Keshavarz, stating: “In both cases, the killers’ weapon and silencer were recovered. Comparative tests conducted between those weapons and silencers and the silencers used in the Mikonos assassinations clearly show that the specifics of their procurement and use conform to one another.” (German Federal Republic High Court in Karlsruhe’s Order for the arrest of Ali Fallahian, May 5, 1996). 

Cyprus officials did not provide any information to the family or the media about the identity of the murderers. A Swedish national who had previously worked as a United Nations police officer in Larnaca told the Swedish newspaper Expressen’s reporter that he had been staying at the same hotel Mr. Keshavarz and his family were staying, and confirmed that an armed police officer had been stationed there: “The police here know everything about everybody who is on this island. I would not be surprised if they had the name of [Mr. Kesavarz’] killers.” (Expressen, August 28, 1989). 

An Interpol officer in Stockholm, Sweden, told the Swedish newspaper SvD Svenska: “Cyprus is not just a tourist island but also a hub for political contacts in the Middle East. Many refugees come to Sweden through Cyprus. Recently, a large number of Lebanese fled to Cyprus and became refugees, and both killers could have come here on a Lebanese passport.” (SvD Svenska, August 28, 1989). 

Sweden’s Reaction

The Swedish government, which had previously denied visas to Mr. Keshavarz’ mother and the other members of his family, allowed them to enter Sweden after the murder, and the family was eventually able to travel to Sweden for [Mr. Keshavarz’] burial. Sten Andersson, then-Swedish Foreign Minister, met with the members of Gholam Keshavarz’ family and told them “it is difficult for us to follow up on and prove [guilt] in this case, and there’s not much we can do, but we will do our best”. (Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother; Boroumand Center documents). 

Immediately after Mr. Keshavarz’ murder, the founding council of the Iranian Refugees Confederation wrote a letter to then-Swedish Foreign Minister in which it demanded that “the Government follow up on the assassination of Gholam Keshavarz as a Swedish citizen, and condemn the Islamic Republic”. On September 12, 1989, Sten Andersson, then-Swedish Foreign Minister wrote a response to the Federation: “I thank you for your letter dated August 31, 1989. I was saddened by the murder of Bahman Javadi in Larnaca. I share the pain and sadness of his death with his friends and family.” The Ministry also expressed their condolences in response to the Federation and stated that it would try to follow up on the matter. Of course, 20 years later, and in response to Ms. Mahloujian, the Foreign Ministry first denied the existence of this person and his refugee [status] in Sweden in its archives; however, upon submission of documentation to the effect that the Ministry had contacted the Iranian Refugees’ Federation, it provided Ms. Mahloujian with its documents. (Boroumand Center interview, December 26, 2020, Bahram Rahmani, Collection of Documents, Pages 43 and 44). 

Iran’s Reaction

The government of the Islamic Republic has not officially made a statement regarding the murder of Mr. Keshavarz who had Iranian nationality. Mr. Keshavarz’ brother has stated that family members were repeatedly interrogated by Information Ministry agents after his killing, and were told “you have to pay for the bullets we spent on him”. ** Furthermore, they did not allow them to hold any type of memorial service for Mr. Keshavarz. According to Mr. Keshavarz’ brother, the family members’ home and place of work were controlled fully for at least 10 days (YouTube new channel, June 2, 2020) and several family members and their friends were interrogated and fired from their jobs. He stated: “How could we follow up, there was no way. [In those days and] under those circumstances, if a political activist’s family asked about his condition, they would cut out their tongue.” (YouTube new channel, June 2, 2020; Boroumand Center interview with Ali Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother). 

Approximately two weeks after Mr. Keshavarz’ murder in Cyprus, Kayhan Havai newspaper wrote that his killing was connected to the murder of another Communist Party political official named Mr. Seddiq Kamangar, who had been killed in Rania in Iraqi Kurdistan on September 4, 1989, and said that both resulted from “Internal conflict in Komala”. According to Mr. Bahram Rahmani, Iranian communist activist, attributing murders outside of Iran to “internal conflicts” is among the Iranian regime’s common methods of denying responsibility for the murder of its citizens abroad. (Kayhan Havai newpaper; Boroumand Center interview, December 26, 2020). 

Family’s Reaction

Ms. Arman, who was accompanying her husband at the time of the murder, has always believed that the Islamic Republic regime is responsible for his death and considers it to be the accused in the case. At the time of the murder, she addressed those who had gathered at the scene and told them: “Go catch the killers, they’re at the Islamic Republic Embassy.” Both at that time and in later years, on various occasions, she openly described the Islamic Republic and the groups under its control as responsible for her husband’s murder. (YouTube new channel, August 30, 2019). 

Gholam Keshavarz’ brother and eyewitness to his murder, stated that during their stay in Cyprus, they tried to take all the necessary precautions and would inspect their routes every time Mr. Kashavarz was to travel that route.

Mr. Keshavarz’ family believes that his murder was planned in advance. According to Mr. Keshavarz’ brother, in the years subsequent to the war with Iraq where obtaining a passport was not a simple task, his mother was able to get her passport in 10 days, “whereas there were people who waited 3 to 4 months to obtain their passport and were not able to”. (Boroumand Center interview with Gholam Mohammad Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother). 

In a news conference held on September 08, 1989, in Stockholm, Ms. Arman accused the Iranian regime of having murdered Gholam Keshavarz and criticized European governments, especially Sweden, for their silence about the matter, and stated: “So far, the Swedish government has taken no action whatsoever, it has not even condemned the act. Swedish media have reported on this savage act but then, [nothing,] complete silence has prevailed. Not only have the media shown no interest in pursuing this case, but they have also completely closed their eyes on numerous individuals in several European countries who have conducted a campaign against this murder. This silence on the part of the Swedish government and the Swedish media is understandable. What’s funny is that the logic of the silence is reflected in those same media: ‘The Iranian market is like a valuable treasure for the Swedish economy.’” (Boroumand Center documents). 

After the murder, Mr. Keshavarz’ family have not pursued this case through legal channels in Cyprus, Iran, and Sweden. ” (Boroumand Center interview with Gholam Mohammad Naraki, Gholam Keshavarz’ brother). 

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* In his political writings, Mr. Gholam Ali Naraki used his pseudonym, Gholam Keshavarz as known to his friends and relatives. Even several media coverage after his death referred to him by this name. Therefore, Abdorrahman Boroumand Center is also using the name "Gholam Keshavarz" throughout this memorial page dedicated to him. 
**Other sources: Statement of The Communist Party of Iran’s Committee Outside Iran, written document and archival copy (Summer 1990); documents related to issuance of visa by Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, archival copy of Farideh Arman’s speech, translated by Azar Mahloujian (September 1989); Copy of the German Federal High Court’s Order (Karlsruhe) for the arrest of Ali Fallahian (May 5, 1996), The Communist Party of Iran website, Bahram Rahmani’s article (August 27, 2019); Jadid TV YouTube channel (August 30, 2019); Avaye Zan Magazine in Sweden, Number 74 (Spring Summer 2012); YouTube new channel television, Sekandari Stones ceremonies (September 15, 2019); YouTube new channel television, (June 2, 2020, August 30, 2019); Iran Opposition Documents archive (April-May 1982); Eshterak weblog (July 31, 2019); archival copy of Farideh Arman’s speech on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of Keshavarz’ murder (August 27, 1999); Komonist Publication, the official publication of the Communist Party of Iran (July-August 1990); Agon, Cyprus’ Greek language publication (August 31, 1989,); Bahram Rahmani, the book entitled “A Collection of Documents regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Terrorist Activities” (April-May, 1993); Kayhan Havai newspaper (September 13, 1989, Number 845); Workers Educate publication, Page 3 (September 10, 1989). 
*** According to a member of this organization, between 1992 and 1997-98, this Federation has actively helped Iranian refugees through an office in Stockholm, including in matters related to petitions for asylum.
**** The Islamic Republic regime has systematically used the money for the bullet or the hanging rope in order to put pressure on the executed individual. This money has been collected at different times, in different towns, and for multiple charges. No specific amount has been fixed since there is no legal basis for this sum. 

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