311. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State and the Mission to the European Office of the United Nations in Geneva1

6827. Subj: Treatment of Iraqi Kurdish Refugees. Ref: A. State 161654, B. Geneva 5181.2

1. In various telegrams sent last year (75 Tehran 2684, 3771, 8585, 8953, 10236, 10984)3 we commented in some detail about the return of Iraqi Kurdish refugees to Iraq. We and AmConsul Tabriz reported allegations of mistreatment of returning Kurds, identifying these as coming from admittedly biased Kurdish sources. Question of forceable repatriation to Iraq was always moot. Iranian officials did not resort to physical force to cause refugees to return to Iraq, but they did encourage them to do so on grounds that their future in Iran was somewhat bleak. As for specific allegations of executions, facts have not been established. Mr Goodyear of UNHCR has attempted to verify cases of forced repatriation and of persecution of refugees returning to Iraq to no avail, although he freely admits that Iraqi Kurds appear to have been prevented from returning to the areas in Iraq where they previously lived.

2. Since the wholesale return of Kurdish refugees to Iraq, Iran has cooperated in movement of 314 refugees to US and 312 more to other countries under UNHCR auspices. Because of this cooperation, and because we see no benefit from a rehashing of Iran’s treatment of the [Page 841] Kurdish refugees, we do not plan to consult GOI now in response to reftel A, unless Dept so requests.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D760260–0807. Limited Official Use. Repeated to Baghdad.
  2. Telegram 161654 to Tehran, June 29, inquired about reports of executions of Kurdish refugees repatriated to Iraq. (Ibid., D760252–1184) Telegram 5181 from Geneva was not found. However, a subsequent telegram, 5525 from Geneva, July 13, presented the results of a Mission officer’s meeting with UNHCR officials about the alleged refoulement and executions of Kurdish refugees in Iraq, reporting that sources indicated that massive forced repatriation from Iran to Iraq did not occur, and that the Kurds arrested and executed had likely been those who never left Iraq. The UNHCR acknowledged, however, that it was unable to conduct a thorough investigation since it lacked representation in Iraq. (Ibid., D760270–0059)
  3. Telegram 2684 from Tehran is Document 283. In telegram 3771 from Tehran, April 23, 1975, the Embassy recommended that the Department ask INS for a conditional entry program into the United States for the few eligible Kurdish refugees. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750142–0939) For telegrams 8585 and 10236, see footnote 3, Document 300. In telegram 8953 from Tehran, September 11, 1975, the Embassy reported further on the planned repatriation of Kurdish refugees. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750314–1029) In telegram 10984 from Tehran, November 11, 1975, the Embassy reported on its meeting with a UNHCR representative, who noted that Kurdish refugees were being officially encouraged to return to Iraq or agree to be dispersed in small groups within Iran. (Ibid., D750391–1103)