A prominent member in the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI), which is the oldest Kurdish party in the country, denounced the assassination of a party leader in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, under suspicious circumstances. The senior official was found dead inside a hotel in the city on August 7, amid direct accusations against the Iranian regime for being behind the murder.
“KDPI senior official Moussa Babakhani, who had been a party member for 20 years, was found dead in an Erbil hotel, two days after his disappearance on August 5,” Khalid Hassanpur, a KDPI leadership member and coordinator with other Iranian opposition parties, told Majalla.
In a phone interview with Majalla, Hassanpur said that “Babakhani was with his companions before heading to the hotel. That was the last time he was seen.
The Kurdish official also revealed, “Babakhani left the city of Koy Sanjaq, which is near Erbil on Thursday, August 5, to the capital of the province. There he contacted a person from the Iranian city of Ilam, who Babakhani knew well and trusted. Afterwards, Babakhani disappeared for two days before we found him slain.”
“Despite the fact that the hotel’s surveillance cameras showed him entering the property, he was not recorded as leaving. This indicates that the crime has seemingly been committed inside the hotel.
The KDPI official said that “Babakhani was shot twice in the head on August 5 inside a hotel room, then the door was closed and he was left there until we found him on August 7.” He stressed that “Tehran is behind the whole operation”.
Meantime, Hassanpur said that “Our party doesn’t have any accurate information about the assassin, but those whom Babakhani trusted were part of the Iranian intelligence which killed hundreds of opponents the same way, as it targets influential figures. That is the Iranian target behind killing Babakhani.”
He added that various Kurdish Iranian parties as well as other opposition parties in Iran are under pressure, but KDPI is always targeted by Tehran particularly in recent years. “The regime demolished the party’s headquarters in Koy Sanjaq and assassinated members of our party’s central committee along with other members in Kurdistan region through Iranian intelligence,” he stated.
Babakhani was a member of the KDPI central committee, and he was a veteran fighter in the party’s troops known as “Peshmerga". He was born in the Kurdish Iranian city of Kermanshah in 1981. He rose through the KDPI ranks until he became a central committee member during the party’s 17th conference. He also worked in the party’s regulations committee and media outlets.
Signs of torture were apparent on Babakhani’s body, as reported by another Kurdish source to Majalla. “Torture suggests that the killers tried to extract confessions from Babakhani before murdering him in a cowardly manner,” the source said.
Many Iranian opposition coalitions, that comprise Kurdish, Arab, Azeris, and Persian parties, have denounced the assassination of Babakhani in Erbil. They also called on Kurdistan’s authorities to do all possible efforts to reveal who is behind the murder, especially that it took place inside the autonomous Kurdish region which is separate from Baghdad’s central government.
In a joint statement, “Congress of Nationalities for a Federal Iran”, along with other two opposition blocs, denounced the murder of Babakhani and demanded the international community and the countries negotiating with Iran in Vienna to include the case of killing and oppressing non-Persian peoples in Iran and human rights violations in the ongoing talks of the nuclear issue.
The opposition blocs accused the new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi of playing an active role in killing political prisoners in his country. They considered the Iranian peoples’ lives threatened by the regime as a result.
At the beginning of this year, Behrouz Rahimi, another Kurdish opponent to the regime who was a member of Kurdistan Free Life Party, was killed in Sulaymaniyah city in Iraqi Kurdistan by unknown assassins.
Reports by rights organizations reveal that Iranian intelligence has detained about 400 people who are members of anti-government Kurdish political parties abroad.
Iranian intelligence has previously killed its opponents abroad or abducted and brought them home as it did with Habib Chaab (also known as Habib Asyud), the former head of The Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz. He was enticed to travel from Sweden of which he is a citizen, to Turkey. Then, he appeared to be captured by Iranian intelligence from Turkey to Iran.
In addition, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have been frequently targeting KDP camps inside Iraq. In September 2018, 15 KDPI members were killed and 30 more were injured, including the party’s Secretary General, in a missile attack launched by IRGC against KDPI premises, 60 km away from Erbil.