An Iranian Kurdish activist has survived an assassination attempt after he was “seriously injured” in a knife attack on Friday in the Dutch city of Leeuwarden, local media reported on Saturday.
Sadegh Zarza, 64, who is a member of opposition group the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), was reportedly stabbed at least 15 times by a 38-year-old Iranian national in broad daylight in Leeuwarden, the Leeuwarden Courant newspaper said citing eyewitnesses.
Zarza survived, “but he has been hit very badly,” Zarza’s brother told the newspaper, adding that he has injuries in the head, neck, stomach, and chest.
Zarza’s family, who says he has received death threats in the past, believe that Friday’s assassination attempt on the activist was “politically motivated.”
Knife attack in #Netherland on Sadegh Zarza member of Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) and niece of #Ghasemloo, politician/ the Secretary-General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) assassinated in 1989. He is transfered to the hospital. pic.twitter.com/ShZyuVPE4p— mina bai (@bai_mina) June 20, 2020
Even abroad, the opposition is not safe from the Iranian regime, Zarza’s brother said.
Giving details of the assassination attempt, Zarza’s brother said that an old friend had called Zarza asking him to meet with his son who had supposedly come to study in the Netherlands.
Zarza had recognized his friend’s voice and agreed to meet his son, but the meeting was a set-up, Zarza’s brother said.
The suspect was waiting for the victim with a bouquet of flowers in his hands, according to an eyewitness.
“When the victim arrived, the attacker walked over to his car and began stabbing him through the passenger seat window not having exchanged any words,” the eyewitness told the Leeuwarden Courant.
The suspect then walked around Zarza’s car to continue stabbing him and to not allow him to flee, according to eyewitnesses.
Once the police arrived, the suspect surrendered without any resistance, the newspaper said.
History of targeting Kurdish activists
Iran has a long history of targeting opposition figures abroad, especially in Europe.
Zarza is the nephew of prominent Iranian Kurdish political leader Abdulrahman Ghassemlou, who headed the PDKI from 1973 until his assassination in 1989 in Vienna.
Ghassemlou’s successor, Sadegh Sharafkandi, was also assassinated in 1992 in Berlin.
The Iranian regime is widely believed to have ordered both assassinations. Tehran denies the allegations.