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Name of leader          Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou

Alias                                   Qasemlu


Organization                   Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI)


Conflict country             Iran


Gender                             Male   


Year of birth                    1930[1]           


Place of birth                  Qasemlu, outskirts of Orumieh, West Azerbaijan province of Iran [2]    


Year of death                  1989[3]   





Yes, he was assassinated in 1989.


Birth order


He had two older brothers.


Age at start of rebel leadership


In 1973, so at the age of 43.[4]


Leader entry method


He was elected member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan.[5]




Yes; he was elected as a member of the Committee, but he was not the highest member.


Education (also name universities attended, if any); note any relevant experiences while a student


“He completed his early education in Urmia.”[6] “In 1947, Qāsemlu left for France.

 After an assassination attempt against Moḥammad-Reżā Shah in 1949 at the University of Tehran, Iranian students in Paris organized a demonstration against the shah. Qāsemlu gave a speech at the event. The Iranian embassy put him under surveillance. His father was not allowed to send him any more funding, so Qāsemlu, through his contacts with the International Students Union, which was controlled by the communists, received a scholarship to study in Czechoslovakia (Randal, 1986, apud Prunhuber, p. 167; Krulich, p. 27).

In 1949 Qāsemlu entered the School of Political and Economic Science of Prague. It was the beginning of the Cold War, and the Stalinist regime was now gripping the country. As a young student and dogmatic Marxist-Leninist, Qāsemlu considered himself a Stalinist. He was elected president of the student union and participated in youth festivals in the International Congress of Students of Prague in 1950, and later in Berlin in 1951 (Randal, 1986, apud Prunhuber, pp. 167-68).”[7] He completed his doctorate in economics and political science in Prague in 1962.[8]


Ever married? If yes, age of first marriage


“In 1952 he married a Czech student and graduated in the same year with a degree in social and political sciences,”[9] so he was age 22.




Yes; he fathered two daughters.[10]


Religious identification


He was an Atheist.[11]


Elite family background


He came from a wealthy landowning family.[12]


Political affiliations and intellectual circles; note any relevant social connections made


Yes; while he was a student (see section on education above).


Physical and mental health


No; there is no evidence of poor physical or mental health.


Pre-militant leader occupation


He “taught the theory of economic growth and long-term planning at the School of Economics at the University of Prague.”[13]


Experience in a state military, and role; any relevant social ties


No, there is no evidence of experience in a state military.


Experience in a nonstate military, and role; any relevant social ties


No; there is no evidence of experience in a nonstate military.

Combat experience prior to assuming resistance organization leadership?

No; there is no evidence of combat experience.

Held government position prior to assuming leadership?


No; there is no evidence he held a government position.


Lived in exile?


No; there is no evidence he lived in exile.


Study abroad?


Yes; he studied in France and Czechoslovakia.[14]


Did the leader receive military training abroad?

No; there is no evidence of military training abroad.

Did the leader have extensive work experience abroad?


No; there is no evidence he had extensive work experience abroad.

Serve time in prison? Social connections during that time?

No; there is no evidence he served time in prison.

Was there an assassination attempt on the leader by the state?

No; he was ultimately assassinated, but he did not face a failed assassination attempt.[15]

Cause of Death?


He was assassinated.[16]


Primary language, and other languages spoken as adult


“He could read and write and speak and understand Kurdish, Farsi, Arabic, Turkish, Azerbaijani, French, English, Russian, Czech and Slovak and was familiar with German.”[17]


Image Credit:


(1930-1989),”, Accessed January 22, 2018,

[2] Chiya Qadri, “ABDUL RAHMAN GHASSEMLOU,” November 16, 2017, Accessed January 22, 2018,

[3] “Dr A. R. Qasemlo,”, Accessed January 22, 2018,

[4] “QĀSEMLU, ʿABD-AL-RAḤMĀN,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, February 18, 2012, Accessed January 22, 2018,

[5] Ibid.

[6] See f.n.2

[7]  “QĀSEMLU, ʿABD-AL-RAḤMĀN,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, February 18, 2012, Accessed January 22, 2018,

[8] Ibid.

[9] See f.n.1

[10] See f.n.2

[11]Prunhuber, Carol. 2009. The Passion and Death of Rahman the Kurd: Dreaming Kurdistan. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

[12] See f.n.3

[13] See f.n.8

[14] See f.n.2

[15] See f.n.3

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

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