Four years ago, in a remote area of the mountains of northern Iraq, I visited the guerrilla camp of several dozen dissident Iranian Kurds. They are now all dead. They were fighting to overthrow the government in Tehran and made regular incursions into Iranian territory to ambush and kill Revolutionary Guards. The Guards responded first by raining artillery onto the rebels' mountain redoubts, and then by buying off local people -- mostly fellow Kurds -- along the border, and getting them to rat out the rebel positions.
The only person I met in the camps who survived was a mild-mannered Iranian ex-lawyer named Wirya Rehmany. Rehmany wore fatigues and sometimes carried a weapon, but his main function was to camp out in the mountains and write about the Kurdish question, occasionally answering questions from pestering foreigners like me. He escaped and is now a political asylee in Paris, where I met him last Saturday at a Vietnamese restaurant in the neighborhood of Belleville.
It was an eerie reunion. I had photographs from the 2006 visit, and he flicked through them, narrating the grim end each of guerrilla. The majority were killed by Revolutionary Guards, or sepah, with the help of Kurdish collaborators. "He was called to a place near Mariwan," said Rehmany, indicating a graying field commander in one photo. A cat, slightly out of focus, purred on the roof of the camouflaged shack behind him. "The sepah stopped his car and shot it," Rehmany said. There was nothing left but a bloody wreck of broken glass and dead bodies.