Mína Norlin

* 1953  

  • “My dad was on his way to America for a big socialist congress. He was even invited there, which meant they respected him as a legitimate representative of the nation. Of course, the Iranians did not like that. So, he was invited to Vienna and my father went there. That evening they had a joint meeting that took place in some apartment. It is said that he was satisfied with the results at the time. Apparently, he had a feeling they got somewhere. That evening, they called him to discuss other things with him, and invited him again on July 13th. It turned out it was a trap, and all three were murdered. There was a mediator between the two parties, my dad and his associate. Some neighbor heard it and called the police. The two who shot were caught and the police took them. One of them straight to the airport to fly to Iran. The other one was hiding for another three years at the Iranian embassy.”

  • “I came there with an Iraqi passport from Czechoslovakia and declared on being an Iranian. But I had no proof of it, just the fake passport. I waited a year for them to give me asylum, and after a few more years I also applied for Swedish citizenship. There was no problem at the time, they just asked me to get rid of my Iranian citizenship immediately, because at that time it was not yet allowed to have two at the same time. So, I took courage and went to the Iranian embassy. I told them about my problem that was about who I was. But I couldn't prove it with any paper. The Embassy worker spoke to me, he always asked me a question and then went to discuss it behind the door. So, in my opinion it took a long time, because I was there for almost an hour. I knew they knew who I was, but they played a game with me that they didn't know. This of course suited me because I did not want to enter into any political confrontations. In the end, the clerk came to me and told me that if I had no paper on who I was and asked to cancel my citizenship without a document, he would cancel it without a document. It sounded incredible to me and I also needed to convince the Swedish police. So, I asked him to give me his contact details and to confirm it to the police. I don't know how it ended up between the police and the embassy, but they gave me my citizenship later.”

  • “It was like a little death to me because I didn't want to leave. I still thought it was a misunderstanding that I would be back. The first thing I did was going to the Czechoslovak Embassy and asking for an explanation. According to some paragraphs, they told me that I was not entitled to it. I came there with Czech, Russian and a little French. Everyone around spoke Swedish or English and I just didn't like them. I didn't like anything there. It took me a long time. It took me about a year. I didn't like that country either, and I didn't like those people, even though they were great. It is true that no other country would accept me like this, but that was my internal setup. I just wanted to be in Prague, in the Czech Republic.”

  • “When he visiting us in Sweden in the eighty-six, he needed to extend his visa. He was officially there as my guest, so we had to go to the police together. There I found out that they knew who my dad was and what his position was. On that basis, they offered him police protection. He refused and exaggerated that he was not Palme. He said this because Palme was shot on the street in Stockholm the year before when he went from a cinema. He also had no protection with him. But it is true that at that time I did not realize that dad lived dangerously.”

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    Praha, 09.12.2019

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    Praha, 15.01.2020

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It does not matter today anymore whether I was fired as a political refugee or as a citizen of Czechoslovakia. I think both ways are in fact criminal.

A photo of Mína Norlin at that time from a trip to Kurdistan, summer 1990
A photo of Mína Norlin at that time from a trip to Kurdistan, summer 1990
photo: archiv pamětníka

Mina Norlin was born on April 19, 1953 to a czech mother Helena Krulichová and father Abdul Rahman Gassemlou, an Iranian Kurd. In the autumn of the same year, Mina as a six months old baby was transferred to Iran, where her father worked in the resistance against the Shah. Over the following months, the family grew by Mina’s sister Hiva. At the end of 1957, Abdul Rahman Gassemlou was sentenced to death. He therefore decided to leave the country with his wife and children and applied for asylum in Czechoslovakia. Thanks to a quick travel with foreign passports, the family lived in Prague under false names until 1968. So, Mina learned her real surname at the age of fifteen after receiving an ID card for foreigners with permanent residence. In 1973 her father was elected as the chairman of the Kurdish Democratic Party in exile. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, he traveled abroad and engaged in the Kurdish national movement. However, he tried to keep his children out of the way in order to keep them safe. The turning point occurred in 1976 when the Czechoslovak authorities refused to extend the residence permit for the whole family. Mina and Híva applied for asylum in Sweden. Parents moved to Paris, where Gassemlou received a teaching contract at the Sorbonne University. After several years in Stockholm, Mina got married, set up a family, and studied architecture. On July 13, 1989, Abdul Rahman Gassemlou and his colleagues were murdered in a meeting in Vienna with representatives of the Iranian party. In the shadow of this family tragedy, Mina watched the fall of the Iron Curtain and when she was given the opportunity to move back to Prague in 1992, she did not hesitate.