Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Taha Kermanj


Age: 35
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: January 6, 1994
Location of Killing: Near Alaaddin Cami, Çorum, Turkey
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

He was very interested in writing plays, in the theater, and in acting.  He wrote and produced several plays about the sufferings of the Kurdish people. 

News and information about the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Taha Kermanj, son of Jafar and Kaleh, has been collected from an Abdorrahman Boroumand Center interview with one of his relatives (October 26 and December 12, 202; June 25, 2022), and from Merhaba Newspaper, Turkiye (January 7, 1994).  Additional information has been gleaned from an interview with Mr. Kermanj’s friend (October 26 and December 15, 2021) and from the biography of Mr. Kermanj, published in Shahid Website of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (no date).

Mr. Kermanj was Kurdish.  He was born on March 7, 1959, in the town of Naqadeh, Western Azerbaijan Province.  He was married, and he had five children.  Before the revolution, he was a student in the Naqadeh Technical-Vocational High School.  During the last year of high school, around the time of the success of the Islamic Revolution, he dropped out because he had started to participate in political activities.  In February 1978, as opposition against the Pahlavi regime was picking up momentum, he became politically active by joining these protests and demonstrations.  After the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran started their overt activities in the Kurdish regions of Iran, he contacted this party in 1978.  He officially joined the Party in the spring of 1979, in the town of Naqadeh.  From 1982-1985, he was a member of the Party Committee in the town of Naqadeh.  In February 1986, Mr. Kermanj was transferred to the Educational and Political Center of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran.  He taught Party history and Kurdish language to new recruits, up until 1989 (Shahid Website, no date). 

The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran underwent a split in February 1988, and in March of 1988, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran – Revolutionary Leadership was formed.  After the split, Mr. Kermanj joined this new Party as a 4thrank cadre (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021).  He was working at the secretariat of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran - Revolutionary Leadership from 1989 up until a few months before he was killed.  He served at the secretariat, he worked in public relations, and he was responsible for communications between the different parties in Iranian Kurdistan (Boroumand Center Interview, June 25, 2022; Shahid Website, no date).  Mr. Kermanj and his family were constantly receiving death threats.  Therefore, after consultation with the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Revolutionary Leadership and with their approval, Mr. Kermanj and his family sought asylum in Turkiye in the fall of 1994, and they settled in the town of Corum.  According to one of his acquaintances, before he emigrated to Turkiye, Mr. Kermanj had been responsible for communication between different parties in Kurdistan, and the Islamic Republic regularly sent threatening messages to him through acquaintances who visited him from Iranian Kurdistan.  They threatened to kill him if he did not cease his activities (Boroumand Center Interview, June 22, 2022).

During this time, Mr. Kermanj and his family lived on a limited financial allowance from the United Nations and they also received money from family and friends.  In Turkiye, he secretly carried out political activities.  Since Kurdish Parties were harassed by the Turkish government, Mr. Kermanj had said he was a supporter of the Imperial Government of Iran (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021). 

According to one of his relatives, he was orderly, democratic, liberal, forgiving, tireless, and positive.  He was a good manager and loved to read and to learn.  He was very interested in writing plays, in the theater, and in acting.  He had written several plays about the social and political pain and suffering of the people, which he would put on for the members of the party during special occasions.  He was usually the director, and sometimes he would also act (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26 and December 12, 2021).

Three of Mr. Kermanj’s brothers, who were also members of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran, were also killed during the struggles of this party (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021, Shahid Website, no date).

Background on the Formation of the Kurdistan Democratic Party

Following internal conflicts within the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan – established in 1945 with the aim of autonomy for Kurdistan in northwestern Iran – the Party went through a shakeup in 2006 and was split into two separate organizations, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (PDK). The PDK seeks “the establishment of a Kurdistan Republic within the framework of a federal Iran”. (Charter of the PDK, passed in its 16thCongress in February 2016). This party has not ruled out armed struggle; it has, however, prioritized political struggle and the expression of the people of Kurdistan’s demands through elections and other civil activities within the framework of existing domestic laws in order to achieve their goals. (The official website of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdistan u Kurd, February 16, 2016).

The PDK has demanded the implementation of, and even negotiation over, Principles 15* and 19**of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic that deals with the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. In 2016-17, Party officials met with Iran’s National Security High Council officials in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. On February 15, 2016, in the Concluding Declaration of its 16thCongress, the Party emphasized “rendering the struggle and the activities more robust, both inside and outside the country, and strengthening the nationalist discourse as well as the spirit of unity and solidarity in Iranian Kurdistan in all areas and contexts” through “utilization of all means and methods of struggle for the purpose of universalizing the nationalist discourse in Iranian Kurdistan, relying on unity and solidarity”. (Boroumand Center interview, February 4, 2021; Giarang, January 3, 2019; Deutsche Welle, July 10, 2019; the official website of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, Kurdistan u Kurd, February 16, 2016).

Background of Extrajudicial Killings by the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of politically motivated violence in Iran and around the world. Since the 1979 Revolution, Islamic Republic operatives inside and outside the country have engaged in kidnapping, disappearing, and killing a large number of individuals whose activities they deemed undesirable. The actual number of the victims of extrajudicial killings inside Iran is not clear; however, these murders began in February 1979 and have continued since then, both inside and outside Iran. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has so far identified over 540 killings outside Iran attributed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Dissidents have been assassinated by the agents of the Islamic Republic outside Iran in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, India, and Pakistan in Asia; Dubai, Iraq, and Turkey in the Middle East; Cyprus, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Great Britain in Europe; and the United States across the Atlantic Ocean. In most cases there has not been much published and the local authorities have not issued arrest warrants. But documentation, evidence, and traces obtained through investigations conducted by local police and judicial authorities confirm, however, the theory of state committed crimes. In certain cases, these investigations have resulted in the expulsion or arrest of Iranian diplomats. In limited cases outside Iran, the perpetrators of these murders have been arrested and put on trial and the evidence presented, revealed the defendants’ connection to Iran’s government institutions, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Iran’s Minister of Information.

The manner in which these killings were organized and implemented in Iran and abroad, is indicative of a single pattern which, according to Roland Chatelin, the Swiss prosecutor, contains common parameters and detailed planning. It can be ascertained from the similarities between these murders in different countries that the Iranian government is the principal entity who ordered the implementation of these crimes. Iranian authorities have not officially accepted responsibility for these murders and have even attributed their commission to internal strife in opposition groups. Nevertheless, since the very inception of the Islamic Republic regime, the Islamic Republic officials have justified these crimes from an ideological and legal standpoint. In the spring of 1979, Sadeq Khalkhali, the first Chief Shari’a Judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts, officially announced the regime’s decision to implement extrajudicial executions, and justified the decision: “ … These people have been sentenced to death; from the Iranian people’s perspective, if someone wants to assassinate these individuals abroad, in any country, no government has any right to bring the perpetrator to trial as a terrorist, because such a person is the implementing agent of the sentence issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Therefore, they are Mahduroddam and their sentence is death regardless of where they are.” More than 10 years after these proclamations, in a speech about the security forces’ success, Ali Fallahian, the regime’s Minister of Information stated the following regarding the elimination of members of the opposition: “ … We have had success in inflicting damage to many of these little groups outside the country and on our borders”

At the same time, various political, judicial, and security officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have, at different times and occasions, confirmed the existence of a long-term government policy for these extrajudicial killings and in some cases their implementation. *** 

The threats against Mr. Kermanj and his killing

On January 4, 1994, at 3:30 pm, on his way home, Mr. Taha Kermanj was shot to death by two people, near the Alauddin Mosque, in the Gulabibey neighborhood of Corum, Turkiye (Merhaba Newspaper, January 7, 1994).

According to Mr. Kermanj’s friend, he was in contact with a lot of people, and many people knew him.  He was very active and hardworking. He took great pleasure in serving his party and his people.  These are good reasons for them to want to eliminate him (Boroumand Center Interview, October 27, 2021). 

According to the published biography of Mr. Kermanj, he had a major role in revealing the Iranian government’s spy networks in the territory of Kurdistan, and in neutralizing their plans against the Kurdish parties.  This was why he was targeted by the Iranian spy networks (Shahid Website, no date).

A few months before he was assassinated, Mr. Kermanj had heard from the inner circle of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran – Fighting Leadership, that he was on the assassination list of the Iranian government and that they were going to kill him one way or the other.  Several assassination attempts against him were neutralized by his friends and by the party organization, in Kurdistan and especially in the town of Rania (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021).

According to a relative, the government of Iran was keeping tabs on Mr. Kermanj and his family due to his active and determined opposition to the Iranian government, and also because of his family’s background in political and party activity.  The government had sent him messages containing death threats, carried by family and friends who would some to visit, and they had tried to assassinate him several times.  In one instance, in August or September 1992, Mr. Kermanj noticed a suspicious Toyota Land Cruiser parked near his place of work in Rania, Iraqi Kurdistan.  He reported this to the police.  In their investigation and examination of the car, the police found three time-bombs, containing half a ton of explosives and iron filings, which they defused.  According to this person, the Rania Police had said, “If these bombs had gone off, they would have caused severe damage in a 500 meter radius.” (Boroumand Center Interview, June 25, 2022).

Mr. Kermanj’s friend, who had been with him at the time of the assassination, gave this account during an interview with Boroumand Center: “On January 4, 1994, we had gone out shopping.  We were returning home, walking on the sidewalk.  As we got close to a construction site, there was a popping sound.  Since it the beginning of the year, and people were celebrating, we thought it was the sound of fireworks.  Suddenly, I noticed Taha fell on the ground. Turning back, I saw two short people shooting at us.  The first shot hit Taha by his ear.  They were shooting at me too, but since we both turned around, the bullet aimed at me passed by my face and missed me.  I could only run away.  I could not defend myself, nor could I take Taha with me.  One of the shooters chased me and fired seven or eight bullets at me.  Fortunately, none of them hit me.  Then I saw a white car pick up the shooters.  I managed to escape, and I made my way home.  I thought Taha had also been able to get to the house.  Our home was about 200 meters away from the place of assassination.  The bullets had ripped my pants, but I had not been shot.  I went back to the place we had been shot at, and I saw that an ambulance had arrived and had taken Taha away (Boroumand Center Interview, October 27, 2021).  According to Mr. Kermanj’s friend, when Mr. Kermanj fell to the ground, the shooter went up to him and shot him near his eyebrow, to make sure he was dead (Boroumand Center Interview, December 15, 2021). 

Mr. Kermanj’s family received his body one week after he had been killed, and they laid him to rest at Batikent Cemetery in Ankara (Boroumand Center Interview, December 12, 2021). 

Iranian Officials’ Reaction

There is no information on the reaction of Iranian officials. 

Turkish Officals' Reaction

Following the assassination of Mr. Kermanj, the Turkish police was able to identify the assassins from some pictures they had obtained, and they pursued them.  Two days later, police in Delijeh (?) Turkiyeh, apprehended a white Shahin sedan, Delijeh license plate 34, in area L8237, with two occupants.  While police were frisking one of the occupants, the other one took off with the car.  He was an Iranian national.  Police arrested the first suspect, who was Turkish (Merhaba Newspaper, January 7, 1994).  Police apprehended the fugitive a few days later (Boroumand Center Interview, December 15, 2021).  Under pressure from the Iranian government, he was released from prison and returned to Iran, a week later (Boroumand Center Interview, December 12, 2021).

Turkish police also arrested Mr. Kermanj’s friend, who had been with his at the time of his assassination.  They held him in custody for four days.  According to Mr. Kermanj’s friend, Turkish police were trying to get information on his and on Mr. Kermanj’s identities.  To that end, they tortured him with electric shock, beatings, pouring cold water on his head, and insulting him (Boroumand Center Interview, October 27, 2021). 

The Kurdistan Democratic Party's Reaction

According to a knowledgeable person, since the Turkish government does not recognize the Kurdish Democratic Party – Revolutionary Leadership, this party did not pursue the assassination of Mr. Kermanj (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021).                  

Family’s Reaction

Since Mr. Kermanj’s family believed that their complaints would not have any results, they never pursued his killing and after a while the case was closed (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021).

Impacts on Family

In an interview with Boroumand Center, speaking about the impact of the assassination of Mr. Kermanj on his family, one of his relatives said, “His killing had a very bad effect on his family.  They cannot be happy like normal people, and they are always sad.  It was very difficult for his wife to lose her husband at a young age and to become responsible for raising their children.  The children are always thinking about their father.  His brother, who lived in Sweden, was greatly affected by his assassination.  He was expecting his brother to join him, so they could live in relative calm, and alleviate the absence of the rest of their family” (Boroumand Center Interview, October 26, 2021).


* Principle 15 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran: “The official language and script of Iran, the lingua franca of its people, is Persian. Official documents, correspondence, and texts, as well as text-books, must be in this language and script. However, the use of regional and tribal languages in the press and mass media, as well as for teaching of their literature in schools, is allowed in addition to Persian.”
** Principle 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran:” All people of Iran, whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong, enjoy equal rights; and color, race, language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege.”
***Read more about the background of extrajudicial killings in the Islamic Republic of Iran by clicking on the left-hand highlight with the same title.

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