The Death Driver

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The killing of innocent civilians, and murder in cold blood are just some of the horrific acts of terror committed by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. They claimed that they are fighting for the rights of the Kurdish minority in Iran's western regions, but in reality human rights has no value for them. The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan took up arms almost four decades ago, and since then more than two thousand people have been killed. Ironically most of the victims are Kurdish citizens; the very same people they claim to be fighting for. This documentary “The Death Driver” will investigate three different cases of murder conducted by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan. With interviews with eye witnesses, family members and a victim that miraculously escaped death as well as an arrested member of the group who participated in the crimes, the documentary will depict a realistic picture of the group's activity and methods. This documentary reaches its climax when the families of victims confront the accomplice member of the group face-to-face; emotions run high and raw feelings of grief, despair and anger are shown.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:00

Narration: Seventy years ago, when Reza shah’s undemocratic government still ruled Iran, Qazi Mohammad, a man from the country’s Kurdistan region, founded an ostensibly democratic movement to demand equal rights for the Kurds of Iran.

It was a movement that warranted the use of arms for claiming the ignored rights of the Kurds.

In the wake of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran that toppled the Shah, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan immediately changed its stripes and turned into an opponent of the Revolution; a revolution that the people of Kurdistan like all the other ethnic groups in Iran had participated in. All most all the parties and guerilla organizations active in Iran before the revolution made a historical mistake. They assumed the revolution owed its success to their organized moves. A calculation mistake that led them to think they had to have a share in the new power structure. A wrong assumption for which they sacrificed themselves and others.

It’s been 37 years since the victory of the 1979 popular uprising in Iran. During this time, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan has taken the lives of thousands of people in order to achieve its undemocratic goals. Most of the victims were residents of Iranian Kurdistan.

The death Driver, recounts one of these armed rebellions of the Democratic Party against a number of Iranian Kurds.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alreza Ashnagar, Deputy Governor, Kurdestan Province: “In 2015, the dissolved Kurdistan Democratic Party, had a meeting with some US officials in which creating insecurity and assassination were proposed. In addition, in order to seek financial assistance, a meeting was held with one of the regional country. Consequently, at the 2016 Nowruz ceremony, the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party announced the armed conflict and the outset of the party’s military presence inside the country.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Kurdistan Leader: “Mustafa Hejri, the Secretary General of the Kurdistan Democratic Party issued a Nowruz message for the Kurds. This is the message: My fighting compatriots who are prepared for the Nowruz Festival, rest assured that the regime’s suppression of the fighters is not the sign of their power, but the sign of their fear from the Kurds. Your unifying fighting will topple the regime and the flood of your unity will sweep it away. We have no option but to fight the regime and we will not give in to the threats and the rest of the Kurdestan has to choose this way as they have already chosen.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alreza Ashnagar, Deputy Governor, Kurdestan Province: “Due to the intelligence supremacy of the country’s loyal forces as well as the strength of the military forces along with the full cooperation of the revolutionary locals, the eleven-member team which launched a blind operation in Sarvabad (a county in Iran’s Kordestan Province) against our bases ended in failure. It was after this operation that the party decided to take revenge on the people.”

TIME CODE: 05:00_10:00

Narration: This man is a death driver. A man hailing from the city of Kamyaranin Iranian Kurdistan recruited by the Democratic Party terrorists to carry out three terrorist operations.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “My name is Heidar Ghorbani; my father’s name is Ali; I’m a resident of Kamyaran (a city in Iran’s Kurdestan Province); I’m 43; I was in second or third grade before I dropped out.”

Narration: A number of Democratic Party Peshmergas made an attempt on the life of Mohammad Saleh Saberi, a resident of Kamyaran.Heydar Ghorbani, the death driver and owner of a Peykan Sedan, colludes with Salah Rahmani and another member of the Democratic Party to assassinate Mr.Saberi.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “He said, “Change your number plate and cover yourself up except for your eyes so that you can see in order to drive for us.” Around 9:00 I headed for Uraman Takht Valley. In the valley, down the garden, I flashed my light and he came up to me. His name was Salah. He came up to me with a weapon and a peshmerga uniform on. We exchanged greetings. He said, “I have hired a car. There are six of us, me included. I just want you to drive ahead of us so as not to run into an ambush or something like that.” As we reached the city, Salahaddin and one of the peshmergas … Salahaddin was sitting in the front; the other peshmerga was sitting in the back. Seeing how serious they were, I decided to change the number plate.

As I was changing the number plate, Salahaddin got out of the car and covered my face with keffiyeh in a way that just my eyes were uncovered. He asked me, “Where is the house of Saleh Saberi who is a rich man and we want to get money from him? Do you know?” I replied, “Yes I know. It’s located in Farhangsara”. There were two of them with two AK-47s. Each one had six or seven magazines and two grenades; they had Kurdish dress on. We drove to Mr. Saberi. The shops were closing. It was around six or seven.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Mohammad Saleh Saberi, The Death Driver: “I came home with my son on the motorbike, as previous nights.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “Salah Rahmani told us, “Head for their house.” As we arrived at their house, the peshmergas got out of the car and drew a gun on him and asked him to get on the car.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Mohammad Saleh Saberi, The Death Driver: “I got on the car quickly. One of the two men sat in the front and the next one was to get in the car. Seeing the driver with a face covered up, I got scared. I got out of the car.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “Then Salah jumped out of the car. He fired a few bullets at his limbs. The other peshmergas fired some bullets into the sky so as to prevent people from coming closer. Seeing the place getting crowded and therefore not safe to stay, Salah told me, “Push the pedal to the metal”. The operation failed.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Mohammad Saleh Saberi, The Death Driver: “I was shot in this hand. The bullet has cut off the nerves. I went to Tehran; there the physician told me, “The nerves have been cut off. That’s why you cannot raise your hand.” With the help of this spring I can raise my fingers; otherwise, I my fingers cannot move. My hand has gone numb. I have had no problem with nobody. You can ask people. I behave in a way that I have no issues. I’ve been good as much as I’ve been able but I haven’t been bad to anyone.”

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “On the way we had taken, they got out of the car in Koureh Darreh Nesar village; they took off the fake number plate and unwrapped my face. Then they told me, “We can no longer return to the city with this car since it is not fast enough. You will be rumbled. The people know you. We give you money. You get us a stolen car.””

TIME CODE: 10:00_15:00

Narration: Paid for by the Democratic Party terrorists, the death driver buys a stolen Peugeot 405, and together with his accomplices prepares for the second terror attack. The party’s next target: Sadeegh Amini, a farmer living in Kamyaran. He is assassinated along with Jabbar Ebrahimiwhen leaving their gardens. The death driver, along with Safieh Amini, the daughter of martyr Amini and Aref Ebrahimi, Martyr Amini’s farmer friend, saw it all happen before their eyes.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Aref Ebrahimi, Van Driver & Witness: “We went to Sadigh’s farm. He told us to pick cucumbers, tomatoes and the like on his farm.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “Then, as a pick-up and a car were driving outside the garden, they quickly got out of the car and stopped the pick-up.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Aref Ebrahimi, Van Driver & Witness: “They told us not to move. We stood where we were and they came toward us. One came from the driver’s side and the other from the other side. They looked into our car and said, “Where is Sadigh?” We didn’t reply. They kicked our car a few times. We drove a little further and as we wanted to stop, they fired a few bullets and told us not to stop.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “As we drove down the road, we saw the pick-up stopped, as two men were running toward us.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “As the driver realized that they were armed belonging to the party, he got out of the car and begged Salah not to kill him.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “Before that, my father had told us, “Duck your heads.” The driver kept begging to have mercy on us.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “The driver put his chest in front of the gun, trying to shield Mr. Amini.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “They came beside the driver’s door, put the barrel inside the car and opened fire nonstop.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “I heard the gunshots, perhaps 10 to 15 bullets were fired.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “The incident didn’t last more than 20 seconds. As we got out of the car … the doors had been locked. I got out …”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “The other peshmerga shouted: “Don’t move on or I’ll kill you.” He fired a few bullets at their feet.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “My feet had gone numb but I wanted to check my father over. As we opened the door- it opened with difficulty – I kicked the door open – my father’s head was tilted. He had fastened the safety belt. The driver also had died.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Maryam Ebrahimi, Martyr Jabbar Ebrahimi’s Widow: “As I went up to him, he had died. I called him over and over again but he didn’t answer. He had raised his hand to prevent the bullets.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “My father was a simple farmer, a faithful compassionate man who cared about his fellow Kurd people and his compatriots. Why should he be killed innocently?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Elahe Ebrahimi, Martyr Jabbar Ebrahimi’s Daughter: “One week later, searching on the net, we found out that the Democratic Party was responsible. They had come to kill Haj Sadigh but killed my father too. I know nothing about the Democratic Party. I’ve just heard the name.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “They want to create a country only for themselves, to oppress people, to loot whatever they want, to kill whoever opposes them. They wanted my father to join their group but my father refused because he was adherent to his own beliefs, his religion which was Islam, and the land he was living in; nothing else.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Elahe Ebrahimi, Martyr Jabbar Ebrahimi’s Daughter: “Haj Sadigh would call him every day. My father was a driver. He would drive Haj Sadigh to Tekht-e Zangi at 4:00 am. He was a simple driver. He was killed innocently. When we go home and find our father missing, you don’t know how we feel. At nights, we are waiting for him to come in but he doesn’t. Whenever someone rings, my sister says, “Is that daddy?” Whenever someone comes in, she says, “Is that daddy? Why doesn’t daddy come?” We are all waiting for him.”

TIME CODE: 15:00_20:00

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “They sat in my Peugeot and told me to drive to Lown Sadat defile, a few kilometers away from where we were. We reached the defile and in short, we set the car on fire.”

Narration: When the second car is burnt in the attack, Heydar Ghorbani receives orders to purchase a third stolen vehicle and sets of to launch a third attack. Sa’di Paveiee and Kamal Kamyarani, were to Democratic Party Peshmergas who gave the death driver directions to the residence of Shahoo Kamalian. Shahoo’s friend was there when that fateful night of terror unfolded:

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Witness: “That night, between 9:00 and 9:30, I was standing with late Shahou beside the curb, talking to each other. Shahou was talking on the phone.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “They asked me, “Which one is Shahou?” I said, “The one standing in front of the Peugeot.””

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Witness: “A Peugeot was driving down to us. It didn’t stop but as it was moving slowly …”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “They rolled the Peugeot’s windows down. Both Sa’di in the front and Kamal in the back sprayed him with bullets.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Witness: “Perhaps, they fired 100 to 150 bullets. Many bullets hit the door and two cars here and there were punctured. Some bullets hit the cars’ radiators. The gunshots continued until they went down the road. I got up and saw Shahou had fallen here. I went up to him. He had died.”

Narration: When Heydar Ghorbani, the terrorists’ driver is captured, the victims’families insist on hearing the details of why and how their loved ones were murdered. The prosecutor’s office arranges for the victims’ families to meet Heydar Ghorbani. Our cameras are not allowed in.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Martyr Jabbari' brother: “I’m martyr Jabbar’s brother. What are you pursuing by creating chaos and killing people? What was his crime? God knows he was just a driver. He had gone there for peanuts.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “I have no problems with none of these families. I have no grudges with nobody. The whole of Kamyaran know me. I’ve been living in Kamyaran for 25 years. I have had no problem with nobody. People like Salah from the Democratic Party came to me and threatened me with weapons to accompany them; otherwise, I had no problem with anybody.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Saffiyeh Amini, Martyr Sadeegh Amini’s Daughter: “You must know that you are my father's main murderer. They (the party) cannot do that. You helped them; you accommodated them. You are the main murderer, not the party.”

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] One of Victim’s Family: “Honestly, how much did Shahou help you? Have you forgotten his help to the city’s poor people? Couldn’t you inform Shahou that the party was after his blood so as to take care of himself? You could do this, couldn’t you?”

TIME CODE: 20:00_26:40

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] One of Victim’s Family: “I swear to God that Shou was a man who never hurt anybody. I swear to God that half of the people in Kamyaran feel his absence. He helped all the people in Kamyaran. You are a mamousta. How dare you allow them to fire, not one or two but thirty bullets at him just before your eyes?”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Elahe Ebrahimi, Martyr Jabbar Ebrahimi’s Daughter: “What crime had my father committed? Just tell me what his crime was. What wrong had this child done? He’s been orphaned. What wrong had I done? Where is your conscience? She has been waiting for my father for a month. She keeps asking, “Won’t daddy come back home?” She has been waiting for her father for a month. She keeps asking, “Won’t daddy come back home?” What wrong had she done?”

Narration: Historically, the use of arms as a tactic and strategy has had consequences. Among them, substituting rationality and logic with force, which inflicts internal and external damage on the armed movement. And the victims of that damage were first and foremost ordinary people.

People who were only used as a justification, with which the freedom movement was established, are now among the first victims of its actions.

Without a doubt, if the founders of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan could predict seventy years ago that their successors would go so far as cooperating with Saddam Hussein of Iraq in cracking down on the Kurdish people and indiscriminately taking Kurdish lives, they would definitely have redefined their idea of struggle both in terms of strategy and tactic.

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Towfigh Ghorbani, Sunni Friday Prayers Leader, Kamyaran: “Some have risen up calling themselves Daesh, claiming to be the followers of pristine Islam. The Prophet of Islam says: “I have been sent to perfect morality.” Is this Islamic morality that they are killing people in the name of Islam; or is it democratic morality that they kill a person in the name of democracy before the eyes of his family? Not at all. Neither this is Islam nor that is democracy.”

SOUNDBITE [Persian] Alreza Ashnagar, Deputy Governor, Kurdestan Province: “The Democratic Party shouldn't have declared an armed struggle, created insecurity, assassinated and killed people, The people in Iranian Kurdestan, who want nothing but a peaceful life and a developed region, have fallen victim to a party’s selfishness and politics.”

Narration: Heydar Ghorbani introduces to us the three members of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan involved in all three terrorist attacks.

SOUNDBITE [Kurdish] Heydar Ghorbani, The Death Driver: “This is Kamal Qhobadi. And this is Sa’di Mohammadi. They were with me in the assassination of Shaou Karimian; they riddled Shaou with gunfire. This is again Kamal Ghobadi. This is Sa’di, one of those who killed Shahou Karimian outside his house. This is Salah who came for the assassination of Saleh Saberi and Takht-e Zangi. This is Salah Rahmani and someone like this was with him for the assassination of Takht-e Zangi and Saberi. This one with the rifle is Mohammad Mirza. He was in charge of Team II. This one is Salah’s friend who I didn’t know. He came with Salah for the assassination plan. This is Ali Ashraf Majidipour who came to my cousin’s home. We met each other there. He told me to receive his team. This is Mohammad Mirza who is the commander of Team II.”

On Screen: Since four decades ago, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdestan has gone under no ideological change. In spite of killing more than 2,000 people, mostly the Kurds, the Party still believes in the armed struggle as the only way to fulfill its slogans. But the main question is, “How long will the people have to fall victim to the Party’s crisis-creating strategy?”  

   

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