Memorial Day in Remembrance of the Massacre of Iranian Political Prisoners in Summer of 1988

 In the summer of 1988, the Islamic Republic executed more than five thousand  Iranian political prisoners. On September 1, 2002 we will honor the memory of the Iranians who were murdered by the fascist Hezbollahi regime. None of  the political prisoners were convicted in fair trials, and they were not given access to lawyers to defend them against the charges that were fabricated by the outlaw Islamic Republic.

Please join us on September 1 at 7:00pm in Palo Alto, California (at the corner of University Avenue and Emerson) for a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of the political prisoners who were killed by the mullahs in the summer of 1988 and all other Iranians who have been murdered by the Islamic Republic since 1979.

If you cannot attend the event in Palo Alto, please light a candle for ten minutes on September 1 at 7:00pm wherever you are, and observe a minute of silence.

Iranians will succeed in eliminating the tyranny of the Islamic Republic and end the nightmare of imprisonment and torture of political prisoners.


Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR IRAN)


P.O. Box 2037, P.V.P., CA 90274

Tel:  (310) 377-4590 ; Fax: (310) 377-3103

E-Mail: ; URL:



September 1 (Shahrivar 10)


Memorial Day in Remembrance of the Massacre of Iranian Political Prisoners in Summer of 1988



Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR IRAN)


P.O. Box 2037, P.V.P., CA 90274

Tel:  (310) 377-4590 ; Fax: (310) 377-3103

E-Mail: ; URL:


September 1 (Shahrivar 10)

Memorial Day in Remembrance of the Massacre of the Iranian Political Prisoners in Summer of 1988

The 1988 massacre started with Khomeini's fatwa, which read in part:

"Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin [Mojahedin], are waging war on God and are condemned to execution.... Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately. As regards the cases, use whichever criterion that speeds up the implementation of the [execution] verdict."

In December 2000, Hossein-Ali Montazer, a 7 cleric who had been for ten years the designated successor to Khomeini, the supreme ruler of the Isalmic Regime in Iran, published his memoies. His book revealed documents that confirmed what many Iranians human rights and political activists have been saying for years about the atrocities committed by the clerical regime, including the massacre of 1988. The documents made public by Mr. Montazeri show that on July 31, 1988 alone, about 3,800 persons were killed, only three days after the beginning of this bloody massacre. On the same day, in a letter to Khomeini, Mr. Montazeri wrote:

"At least order to spare women who have children and finally, the execution of several thousand prisoners in a few days will not have positive repercussions and will not be mistake-free. . . . A large number of prisoners have been killed under torture by their interrogators. . . . In some prisons of the Islamic Republic young girds are being raped by force. . . . As a result of unruly torture, many prisoners have become deaf or paralyzed or afflicted with chronic diseases."

As indicated in the attached document "A Call for Justice", Montazeri was not the first to reveal this massacre. The news of this tragedy was already out for years in spite of a censorship imposed by the Islamic Regime of Iran (IRI) to ensure a complete blackout on their crime.

Fourteen years have passed from this tragedy in which thousands of political prisoners, were brutally killed so that the Islamic regime of Iran could continue its mediaeval despotic rule. 

In order to inform the world community of this horrific crime, a crime that has been overlooked for so many years, there was a need organize remembrance gatherings of this tragedy in a specific date and in a coordinated manner with the collective support of various groups of participants such that it will have a broad and impressive effect around the world. The idea was that by highlighting the crimes of Islamic Regime and appealing to the freedom loving people of the world we could play an effective role in stopping the help of the interest driven Western Governments to the Islamic Regime that is responsible for these and many other murderous acts. Therefore, it was necessary to first adopt a date, and then collectively execute a specific plan around the world at the same time. Based on the opinion polls conducted, the 10th of Shahrivar, corresponding to the 1st of September, was agreed upon as the Memorial Day for the victims of the1988 massacre of political prisoners.


The Islamic Regime, in spite of all its crimes, has extended the domain of its invasion from inside to outside of Iran and through various types of shows and publicity stunts and with the help of non-Iranian and Iranian greedy opportunists has tried to cover up its anti-human nature. These activities are conducted to gain the financial support of the Western countries. One of the few things that the Iranians living outside Iran can do is to stop enactment of this conspiracy. We do not believe that pleading to the various government officials by itself would result in stopping the help to the Islamic Regime. So, it is our opinion that the proper paths for accomplishing our democratic and humanitarian tasks that are consistent with pro-democracy movement of our people are as follows:



(1)   Seeking help from pro-democracy organizations, groups and people of the world, and thus applying pressure on their governments to stand against Islamic Regime, and to refrain from legitimizing that regime.

(2)   Formation of a strong block of Iranians who reside in different countries; and their participation in the political process of the country of residence, in order to enable us to materialize our views.

(3)   Struggle for the prosecution of Regime's criminals through international laws and avenues. This not only serves justice, but also is the best way to stop the Islamic Regime to gain legitimacy outside Iran. This is an objective for which MEHR has struggled for many years. In spite of limited resources and cumbersome judicial process in the U.S. we have been able to gain enough support and hope to file our first lawsuit in the US courts very soon. However, we are well aware that desirable progress of this task can only be achieved through your support and participation.


Our joint efforts on the anniversary of political prisoner's massacre will provide an appropriate basis to attract the attention of the people of the world to Regime's crimes. We hope that working towards goals within the above practical tasks and their implementation will unify us further in achieving our objectives.


The following documents provide some background information about this tragic event.



August 10,2002





Mission for Establishment of Human Rights in Iran (MEHR IRAN)


P.O. Box 2037, P.V.P., CA 90274

Tel:  (310) 377-4590 ; Fax: (310) 377-3103

E-Mail: ; URL:




A Collection of background information about the massacre of thousands of political prisoners in summer of 1988






  1. Report of Amnesty International on the Massacre of 1988


  1. Massacre of Political Prisoners in 1988 (Montazeri's Memoirs)


  1. Karen Parker's report on the 1988 massacre


  1. HRWG Statement on the Tenth Anniversary of Mass Execution of Political Prisoners in 1988


  1. A Call for Justice


  1. Information about 4537 victims of 1988 massacre collected by Iranian political organizations and translated by MEHR Iran




Report of Amnesty International on the Massacre of 1988


Parts from the book: Amnesty International, IRAN

l.2.1 The Massacre of 1988

In mid-1988 the pattern of political executions changed dramatically from piecemeal reports of executions to a massive wave of killings that took place over several months. Even now, two years after these events, it is still not clear how many people died during the six-month period from July 1988 to January 1989. Amnesty International has recorded the names of over 2,000 political prisoners reportedly executed during this period. Iranian opposition groups; such as the PMOI, have suggested that the total was much higher. Speaking on French television in February 1989, Hojatoleslam Rafsanjani is reported to have said that "the number of political prisoners executed in the past few months was less than 1,000" (Iran Yearbook 89/90).

Since these events took place, Amnesty International has interviewed dozens of relatives of execution victims, and a number of former political prisoners who were in prison at the time when the mass killings were taking place. It has received written information from many Iranians who believe that their friends or relatives were among the victims. These accounts, taken together with statements by Iranian Government personalities, have convinced Amnesty International that during this six-month period the biggest wave of political executions since the early 1980s took place in Iranian prisons.

Two important political events preceded the executions. On 18 July 1988 Ayatollah Khomeini announced his intention to accept UN Security Council Resolution 598 instituting a cease-fire in the Gulf War between Iran and Iraq. A few days later, the National Liberation Army, a military force formed by the Iraq-based opposition group, the PMOI, staged an armed incursion into western Iran that was repulsed by the Iranian army.

It has been suggested to Amnesty International by former prisoners that both these events may have influenced the government's decision to carry out these executions at this time. The cease-fire in the Gulf War meant that international attention was focused on international developments and not on the situation of political prisoners in Iran. The armed incursion by PMOI force at a time when the Iranian Government had signaled its intention to cease fighting in the Gulf War gave the authorities a motive to take reprisals against prisoners associated with the PMOI who had been held in prisons around the country, often for several years. Former prisoners have also said that political prisoners were warned by their captors that when the war was over they would be "dealt with".

President Khamenei spoke in December 1988 of the decision taken by the Iranian authorities to execute "those who have links from inside prison with the hypocrites [PMOI] who mounted an armed attack inside the territory of the Islamic Republic". An open letter to Amnesty International from the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the UN in New York stated:

"Indeed, authorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have always denied the existence of any political executions, but that does not contradict other subsequent statements which have confirmed that spies and terrorists have been executed." (UN document A/44/153, ZB February 1989)

The political executions took place in many prisons in all parts of Iran, often far from where the armed incursion took place. Most of the executions were of political prisoners, including an unknown number of prisoners of conscience, who had already served a number of years in prison. They could have played no part in the armed incursion, and they were in no position to take part in spying or terrorist activities. Many of the dead had been tried and sentenced to prison terms during the early 1980s, many for non-violent offenses such as distributing newspapers and leaflets, taking part in demonstrations or collecting funds for prisoners' families. Many of the dead had been students in their teens or early twenties at the time of their arrest. The majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI; but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups, including various factions of the PFOI, the Tudeh Party, the KDPI, Rah-e Kargar and others, were also among the execution victims.

The first sign that something was happening in the prisons came in July 1988 when family visits to political prisoners were suspended. This was the beginning of months of uncertainty and anguish for prisoners' relatives as rumors began to spread that mass executions of political prisoners were taking place.

No news of the political prisoners was heard for about three months.

Relatives would go to prisons on regular visiting days only to be turned away by prison guards. Some brought clothing, medicines or money to the prisons hoping to get a signed receipt from their imprisoned relatives as an indication that they were still alive.

Reports circulated among prisoners' relatives that execution victims were being buried in mass graves. Distraught family members searched the cemeteries for signs of newly dug graves that might contain their relatives' bodies.

One woman described to Amnesty International how she had dug up the corpse of an executed man with her bare hands as she searched for her husband's body in Jadeh Khavaran cemetery in Tehran in August 1988 in a part of the cemetery known colloquially as Lanatabad, (the place of the damned); reserved for the bodies of executed political prisoners.

"Groups of bodies, some clothed, some in shrouds, had been buried in unmarked shallow graves in the section of the cemetery reserved for executed leftist political prisoners. The stench of the corpses was appalling but I started digging with my hands because it was important for me and my two little children that I locate my husband's grave."

She unearthed a body with its face covered in blood but when she cleaned it off she saw that it was not her husband. Other relatives visiting the graveyard discovered her husband's grave some days later. A member of a communist group, he had been arrested in early 1985, tortured over several months and convicted after a summary trial at which, as a result of his torture, he was barely conscious. He never learned what his sentence was.

His wife had been turned away from Evin Prison on a regular visiting day in early August, and had then started her quest for information that led her to the unmarked grave.

In October and November 1988 the authorities began to inform families of the execution of their relatives. In a few cases prison officials informed relatives of the execution when they went to the prison for a normal family visit. This led to protests by prisoners' relatives who gathered outside prisons, so other methods were devised. The majority of relatives appear to have been informed by telephone that they should go to an Islamic Revolutionary Committee office to receive news about their imprisoned relatives: There they were informed of the execution and required to sign undertakings that they would not hold a funeral or any other mourning ceremony. Family members were not informed where their relatives were buried, and even if they managed to find out they were not permitted to erect a gravestone.

An Iranian who left Iran in late 1988 told Amnesty International how his family hid learned of the execution of his brother, Hossein. In November 1988 the family received a telephone call instructing the father to go to Evin Prison to receive information about Hossein. Hossein's father and wife went to the prison where they were told that Hossein had been executed because he was not repentant and had not been improved by his imprisonment.

They were not informed where his body was, and were told that they should not hold any funeral ceremony.

Hossein had been held in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj where he was serving a 15-year sentence for activities in support of the PMOI. Hossein had been arrested in 1981. His brother told Amnesty International that at that time Hossein had been involved in political activities for the PMOI: collecting money and distributing leaflets and newspapers. His brother is convinced that Hossein was not involved in violent activities.

The mother of a 39-year-old woman executed in Evin Prison wrote to Amnesty International describing a similar experience. Her daughter had been arrested in 1982 when she had been found in possession of leaflets produced by the PMOI. She had been tried by an Islamic Revolutionary Court but never informed of the sentence passed on her. For six years the mother had visited her daughter every two weeks. In early August 1988 her visits were stopped without explanation. In November 1988 she received a telephone call telling her to go to the Islamic Revolutionary Committee office near Beheshteh Zahra cemetery, where she was informed of her daughter's execution. She was instructed not to hold any mourning ceremony and was not informed where the body was buried.

Relatives of prisoners executed in Orumieh Prison in Iranian Kurdistan have described to Amnesty International a form they had to sign when they were summoned to the prison to collect their relatives' belongings. They were told where their relatives were buried, but the authorities had made sure that the 40-day mourning period had elapsed before telling the families about the executions. The form was an undertaking that they would not hold any form of funeral ceremony or erect any memorial on the graves.

Amnesty International has received accounts of similar events in many different prisons in all parts of Iran: in Rasht, Sanandaj, Mashhad, Isfahan and elsewhere. This suggests to Amnesty International that the massacre of political prisoners was a premeditated and coordinated policy that must have been authorized at the highest level of government.

The relatives of prisoners executed during this period have taken to gathering in Beheshteh Zahra cemetery in Tehran on Fridays to commemorate their dead family members. The mother of a 42-year-old man who had been arrested in 1983 and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment before being executed in Karaj Prison, wrote to her daughter outside Iran about one of these gatherings:

"On Friday all the mothers along with family members got together and went to the graveyard. What a day of mourning, it was like Ashura; [A religious festival of particular importance to Shi'a Muslims, commemorating the martyrdom of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hossein.] Mothers came with pictures of their sons; one has lost five sons and daughters-in-law. Finally the committee came and dispersed us."

This gathering of bereaved relatives has reportedly become a regular weekly event in the section of Beheshteh Zahra where political opponents to the government are buried. According to reports from relatives of executed prisoners in Iran, the makeshift monuments erected by the families, which consisted of a few stones and flowers, were removed by the authorities prior to the visit to Tehran by the UN Special Representative on Iran in January l990. This was apparently an attempt to remove visible evidence of the mass killings from the sight of any possible inspection of the cemetery by the Special Representative.

Amnesty International has also collected accounts of the mass killings as they were witnessed by political prisoners who were in prison at that time.

A former prisoner in Dastgerd Prison in Isfahan said that almost every day between August and December 1988 prison guards came to his section of the prison and read out a list of up to 10 names. These people were then taken out off the cell, which generally housed between 150 and 300 people, and never seen again. The prisoners did not know what was happening to those taken away, but the guards said that they were to be executed. Later prisoners were transferred to Dastgerd Prison from other prisons and news of similar events in these prisons spread among the inmates in Dastgerd.

Prisoners in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj appear to have had a much clearer picture of the events which were taking place. Former prisoners have described to Amnesty International how a commission made up of representatives from the Islamic Revolutionary Courts, the Revolutionary Prosecutor's Office and the Ministry of Intelligence began to subject all political prisoners to a form of retrial in July 1988.

These "re-trials" bore little resemblance to judicial proceedings aimed at establishing the guilt or innocence of a defendant with regard to a recognized criminal offense under the law. Instead, they appear to have been formalized interrogation sessions designed to discover the political views of the prisoner in order that prisoners who did not "repent" should be executed -- the punishment of all those who continued to oppose the government.

In Gohardasht Prison those detained for their alleged support for the PMOI were reportedly the first to go before the commission. Other prisoners received information about the "trials" from PMOI prisoners by way of messages tapped to walls in Morse code from room to room inside the prison.

According to one prisoner held there at that time, the first question asked by the commission was: "What is your political affiliation?" Those who answered "Mojahedin" were sent to their deaths. The "correct" answer was "monafeqin" (hypocrites). Those prisoners who survived this first phase of interrogation were then subjected to a second series of questions. These included questions such as:

The majorities of prisoners were reportedly unwilling to give the desired responses and were consequently sent for execution. Some 200 out of 300 PMOI prisoners in Sections 3 and 4 of Gohardasht Prison were killed following this type of interrogation. The interrogations were reportedly conducted in such a way as to trick prisoners into making statements revealing their opposition to the government.

The prisoners named the interrogators the "Death Commission". It came to Gohardasht Prison three times a week, arriving by helicopter. The same commission was also reportedly at work in Evin Prison.

At the end of August 1988 the "Death Commission" turned its attention to the prisoners from leftist groups held in Gohardasht Prison. These included supporters of the Tudeh Party, various factions of the PFOI, and others. The interrogations followed a similar pattern, with prisoners being asked if they were prepared to make public statements criticizing the political organization with which they had been associated. The leftist prisoners were also asked about their religious faith. They were asked such questions as: Do you pray? Do you read the Our'an? Did your father read the Qur'an?

One eyewitness of an interrogation in Gohardasht Prison described how he was taken before the "Death Commission" with five other prisoners. The six were asked if they prayed or read the Qur'an: they replied that they did not. They were then asked whether their fathers had read the Qur'an.

Four of them answered "yes" and two of them "no". After some discussion between members of the commission, it was decided that those who had not been brought up in a religious family were not as guilty as those whose parents were religious, because the former group had not been brought up as believers. Consequently; the two men whose fathers had not prayed were spared; but the four others were executed.

According to another eyewitness account of this period in Gohardasht Prison the decisions about which prisoners were to be executed and which spared were arbitrary in the extreme. Some prisoners who had been sentenced to death by the commission were spared because prison guards sent prisoners whom they disliked to be executed in their place. There was also a great deal of confusion as prisoners were transferred from different prisons, and from section to section within the prison. As a result of such confusion, prisoners were sometimes executed by mistake.

The same eyewitness estimates that out of 900 PMOI and 600 leftist prisoners in Gohardasht Prison at the beginning of the summer of 1988, 600 PMOI prisoners and 200 leftist prisoners were executed. In Evin Prison, where the executions of prisoners was going on simultaneously, the proportion of execution carried out from the total population of political prisoners was much higher. One reason suggested for this is that in Evin there was no way for prisoners to communicate with each other, so they were unable to prepare answers to questions put to them by the "Death Commission" as prisoners in Gohardasht had done.

A similar pattern of purposeful mass killing of political opponents, beginning with the PMOI but encompassing alleged supporters of other opposition groups, took place in dozens of other prisons around the country in the second half of 1988. Among others, Amnesty International has received reports of hundreds of executions of prisoners from Kurdish opposition groups in Orumieh Prison, and of 50 being executed in Sanandaj.

Ayatollah Montazeri's letters to Ayatollah Khomeini in July 1988 reportedly criticized many of the aspects of the mass executions identified by former prisoners. Ayatollah Montazeri commented on the arbitrary way in which life and death decisions were taken:

"He [Ayatollah Montazeri] cited the case of a provincial mullah who had complained that a prisoner who had fully recanted was executed anyway. The prisoner, who was not named, said in response to the tribunal questions that he was ready to publicly condemn his past opposition, and to go to the Gulf War front as well. But when he refused to declare his readiness to go to the mine-fields, the tribunal decided he had not truly changed and had him executed." (Reuters, 29 March 1989)

In a later letter, dated 15 August 1988, Ayatollah Montazeri is reported to have demanded of the Minister of Intelligence, the Prosecutor General and the Chief Justice: "On what criteria are you now executing people who have not been sentenced to death?"(Reuters, 29 March 1989)

Ayatollah Montazeri's letters show that there was awareness at the highest level of the government that "thousands" of summary executions were taking place without regard to constitutional and judicial procedures. The authorities were therefore either unable to prevent these mass killings from taking place, or they did not wish to do so.

The mass killing of political prisoners appears to have stopped at the beginning of 1989, when several hundred repentant political prisoners were included in amnesties to mark the 10th anniversary of the Islamic Republic's foundation in February 1979. Those who were released had to sign statements denouncing their earlier political activities. They were further obliged to pledge large sums of money, or in some cases the deeds of the family houses, against their future good conduct and non-involvement in opposition politics. The amnesty brought to an end a period of six to eight months which saw a massive reduction in the numbers of political prisoners in Iran through executions.

Since February 1989 sporadic reports of executions of the government's political opponents in Iran have been received by Amnesty International.

Some of these executions have taken place in public. For example, in March 1989 Mohammad and Saeed Khan Naroui were hanged from a crane in Abbas Ali Square in Gorgan. They had been imprisoned since 1984 for "inciting the people to revolt'.

On 28 March 1990 the execution of two men described as "bandits" was announced by the Islamic Republic News Agency. Abbas Raisi and Ahmad Jangi Razhi were found guilty by the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Zahedan of "collaborating with bandits and counter-revolutionaries in the Baluchistan area" (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 30 March 1990)

Secret executions of political prisoners have also been reported. Following the assassination in July 1989 of the leader of the KDPI, Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou, in circumstances which suggest the involvement of the Iranian Government; resistance to the government, including armed opposition; is reported to have been stepped up in Iranian Kurdistan. The authorities are reported to have responded by executing Kurdish prisoners in Sanandaj and Orumieh Prisons. Executions of Kurdish opponents to the government have continued in 1990.

Other political prisoners are reported to have been executed ostensibly as common criminals they were among the hundreds of drug-traffickers and other convicted criminals executed in public in 1989 and 1990. For example, it was announced that 79 drug-traffickers were executed in different cities on l7 August 1989. Among them were Mohammad Younesi, executed in Hamadan, Mohammad Gholi Ebrahimi, executed in Rasht, Bijan Biglari executed in Kermanshah (Bakhtaran), and Bahram Kazemi and Massoud Sabet, executed in Shiraz. All these were reportedly political prisoners. Amnesty International has received no response to its requests for information from the Iranian authorities about the offenses of which these prisoners were convicted.




Montazeri's Memories:
Massacre of Political Prisoners in 1988

The Islamic Republic has tried to cover up the facts on the overwhelming mass executions and has never released the least explanation that would have implicated all of the regimes authorities, even the moderates and even Khomeini himself. It's good to know that without mentioning the names, Montazeri tries to pinpoint most of Khomeini's nearby collaborators such as his son, Ahmad Khomeini, as responsible for the massacre. There is no doubt that the mass executions have been ordered directly by Khomeini in his letters.

In the 10th section, concerning the massive executions, Montazeri says: After the Mojahedin's attack supported by Iraqis, many Mojaheds (members of Mojahedin Organisation) were killed and many were arrested and put on trial in the Mersad Operation. My concern is not these people, but I wrote a letter to Imam because at the same time some people decided to get definitely rid of all of Mojaheds once and for all, and therefore got a letter from Khomeini which implied that all those who are already imprisoned under the charges of acting Monafegh (not real Moslem, Mojahed called:) should be executed once the majority of judges and the Intelligence Service authorities decide that they still uphold their positions. This means that if two out of three decided that a prisoner is not giving up his ideals, even if condemned for one, two or five years of imprisonment, he or she should be executed. This letter from Imam has no dates but it's written on a Thursday. I read the letter and I found it very strictly written in retaliation for Mojahed's operations in the west parts of Iran and it's said to be in Ahmad Khomeini's handwriting. Because this letter was sent to judges, I can read it to you to clarify the situation. The letter goes like this:

Ref. No. 152: Execution of Monafeghs still upholding their cause. In the name of god the merciful. Because the Mojaheds do not believe in Islam and all they say are lies, and because of all the wars all over the country against Muslims with the help of Iraq and their spying activities for Iraqi regime, all those prisoners held all over the country who insist on their ideals should be reckoned as Mohareb (who fight against Islam and the god) and should be executed. The authority that decides this in Tehran are Mr. Nayeri (the Islamic judge), Mr. Eshraghi (Tehran's attorney general) and a member of the Intelligence Agency.

To have pity for Mohareb is to be simple minded. To be strong against the enemies is a basic Islamic rule and for obeying you shall be rewarded. Those who choose should not hesitate, or they would be betraying the sacred blood of martyrs.
   On the back of the Letter Ahmad Khomeini has written:
 My father, the great Imam. Ayatollah Mousavi Ardabili (the president of the High Court of Justice) doubts the order of executing the Monafeghs. He puts it in 3 questions: 1- Is this order referring to those who are condemned to death but they are not still executed and they have not changed their position or that all those who are not yet prosecuted should be executed too? 2- Are the Monafeghs who are condemned only to serve few years should also be executed if they uphold their position? 3- Are the files of the Monafeghs in other departments, judicially independent, should be treated in the capital or they can act themselves?
   The answer:
 In all situations above, anyone still upholding his ideas should be sentenced immediately to death. No matter who deals with the cases, the condemnation should be pronounced quicker. Destroy the enemies of Islam as soon as possible. Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini

Finally, they suspended the prisoners visits and following this order some 2800 or 3800 men and women -I'm not sure of the number- were executed all over the country, even those were prayers and accomplished their religious obligations. They forced them to deplore and denounce their beliefs but their pride would not let them to do so. Here in Ghom a judiciary authority came to me to complain about an Intelligence agent who kept saying let's kill them all and get rid of them as quickly as possible. He said that this is an order from Imam (Khomeini) and all we have to do is to determine their position. He then asks prisoners if they still uphold their position and not knowing the situation the prisoner says yes and was then immediately executed.

Few days later, one of the judges came to me, he was very disturbed and said that they are upset about the Mojahedins' operation and they are massacring the prisoners. I reflected his complaint in these words to Imam (Khomeini):
  "3 days ago, one of the clerical judges of a department came to me and complained about the manner with which your order is taken into act. He said,

the Intelligence agent or the prosecutor -I'm not sure- asks from a prisoner to determine if he is still on his position, would you condemn the Mojahedin? He said yes. Would you make an interview (public)? He said yes. Would you go to fight the war against Iraq? He said yes. Would you walk over land mines (anti personnel mines)? He asked if all others would do so, plus I'm a new Muslim, it's too much premature to ask that much. They decided that he was still on his position, and this judge said that he insisted that the decision should be taken by unanimous vote and not the majority, they did not accept. The Intelligence agents have much influence and somehow force others to follow their point of view. Please clarify which authority is responsible in this matter that concerns thousands of people. On 03,08,1988, Hossein-Ali Montazery."


This was my second letter on this matter and I noticed that they are still continuing the killings. It was first of Moharram (Sacred month in Islam). I convoked Mr. Nayeri the Evin prison's clerical judge, Mr. Eshraghi who was the prosecutor, Mr. Raiesi his deputy and Mr. Pour-Mohammadi the Intelligence agent. I told them that it is the first of Moharram, at least stop the execution during this scared month. Mr. Nayeri said: "We have already executed 750 in Tehran and we have chosen 200 more, once we are through with this, we shall comply to your demand." I was very upset. Finally, I read them this matters and told them that since it is Moharram, it is better to loosen up the decisions. I added that if Imam insists, you take some of the prisoners who make propaganda in the prison and are still active and question them correctly. If at the issue of this investigation you decide that he should be convicted, then do so and execute him. This way no one can claim that such person was convicted to 5 years and was executed by the Islamic Republic. It was only natural that these matters were taken to Mr. Reyshahri and Ahmad Khomeini. They were disappointed about my inquiries and my demands. Finally, 2800 or 3800 prisoners were executed.

I remember that Mr. Eslamy who was the revolutionary prosecutor of Fars state brought me a dossier of a girl who was convicted and executed and he said that he was against her execution. In her will she had written to her parents and had asked them not to turn their faces against the revolution's cause because such errors could happen and she had also asked them to read the Koran.


He was sad when she was executed. Mr. Hossein-Ali Ansari who was my representative in the prisons said that there were 7 brothers, good Moslems and did no longer believe in Mojaheds. They had decided to give written statements to prove their condemnation of the Mojahidin but did not want to make a television appearance. They were therefore considered to be on insistent on their position and all, but one who was paralysed, were executed. This was how it worked.

Later on I received another letter from Imam concerning the non-religious prisoners. At the time there were almost 500 such prisoners, including the communists. Their aim was to get rid of them too.




Fifty-seventh session
Item 9 of the Provisional agenda



1. In 1995 International Educational Development submitted a written statement (United Nations Document E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/55) to the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities (now the Sub-Commission on Promotion and Protection of Human Rights) in which we provided information about a person named Jamshid Tafrishi-Enginee. In our statement we pointed out that while Mr. Tafrishi-Enginee had spent about 18 months with the National Liberation Army (NLA) of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, we believed that he was in fact an agent of the regime in Iran with an assignment to gather intelligence on Iranian exiles, to seek ways and means for discrediting them and all opponents of the regime, and to carry out misinformation campaigns against them. Mr. Tafrishi now freely admits that we were correct.

2. Mr. Tafrishi has recently written letters in which he reveals that the Intelligence Ministry of the Iranian regime hired him (apparently paying him $72,000 in addition to travel and other expenses) especially to carry out a misinformation campaign about the NLA, with false accusations that the NLA had itself engaged in violations of human rights or intimidation or extortion of the Iranian exile community. A number of human rights organizations were treated to false testimony and government-orchestrated letter writing campaigns. Unfortunately, some of these organizations may have believed this misinformation. Sadly, this campaign appears to have succeeded in shifting attention away from the serious violations of humanitarian law being committed by the Irani military forces as well as the continuing gross pattern of human rights violations taking place throughout the country. Perhaps if the international community has responded to Mr. Tafrishi as we did - we thought Mr. Tafrishi was so clearly inept for his job anyone could see him for what he was - there would still be strong international action regarding Iran.

3. In other work on the situation in Iran, we have expressed outrage over the staggering number of political prisoners executed in the regime's jails. Now it appears we were conservative in our tally of these executions: Mr. Hossein Ali Montazeri, former designated successor to Khomeini, Iran's Supreme Leader at the time, recently made public shocking documents indicating that as many as 30,000 political prisoners were killed in 1988 alone. Iran's current leaders, including Mr. Khamenei, Mr. Khatami and Mr. Rafsanjani, as well as the officials still in charge of the Judiciary, played the primary role in this massacre.i

4. The documents made public by Mr. Montazeri include the text of Khomeini's fatwa in summer 1988, which read in part:

"Those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin [Mojahedin], are waging war on God and are condemned to execution.... Annihilate the enemies of Islam immediately. As regards the cases, use whichever criterion that speeds up the implementation of the [execution] verdict."

Other documents made public by Mr. Montazeri show that on July 31, 1988 alone, about 3,800 persons were killed, only three days after the beginning of this bloody massacre. On the same day, in a letter to Khomeini, Mr. Montazeri wrote:

"At least order to spare women who have children and finally, the execution of several thousand prisoners in a few days will not have positive repercussions and will not be mistake-free. . . . A large number of prisoners have been killed under torture by their interrogators. . . . In some prisons of the Islamic Republic young girds are being raped by force. . . . As a result of unruly torture, many prisoners have become deaf or paralyzed or afflicted with chronic diseases."

5. Gross human rights violations in Iran did not end in 1988. In his latest report to the General Assembly, Maurice Copithorne, the Commission's Special Representative on Iran attests to high rates executions and of particularly gruesome torture, continued discrimination of women and religious minorities, and curtailment of freedom of the press under conditions that he calls "truly draconian."

6. The continuing flagrant violations of human rights in Iran and the shocking massacres of 1988 are irrefutable cases of crimes against humanity. These violations took place and continue in the course of an on-going civil war and are related to that war. Accordingly, the international community is, under the provisions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and other instruments of humanitarian law, under an obligation to seek out and try those responsible. Such a trial is not limited to a special international tribunal, but may take place in the courts of any party to the Geneva Conventions.

7. International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project urges the Commission as a whole as well as its individual members to undertake appropriate action in light of grave breaches of humanitarian law committed by the Irani regime. We also urge the Commission to continue the mandate of its Special Representative.

The state-run daily Iran News, made a reference to this massacre on April 9, 2000: "The decree was issued at a time when President Khatami, was the deputy to the Commander of the Armed Forces Staff in ideological and cultural affairs. He implemented the Imam (Khomeini)'s decree most decisively." ii United Nations Document A/55/363 at para. 13. iii See, for example, Geneva Convention IV of 1949, United Nations Treaty Series Vol. 75, p. 267: "Each High Contracting Party shall be under an obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed , or to have ordered to have committed, . . .grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.






IHRWG Statement on the Tenth Anniversary of

Mass Execution of Political Prisoners in 1988


September 1998 marks the 10th anniversary of the mass execution of political prisoners in Iran at the end of the Iran-Iraq war. While the exact number of prisoners executed is not known, it is believed that thousands of people may have been executed. The names of some of them have been publicized by opposition political organizations, and a partial list was included amongst the 1879 victims of executions in Iran in the reports of the former United Nations Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Raynaldo Galindo Pohl (documents E/CN.4/1989/26 and E/CN.4/1990.24), but many still remain unknown. Even the whereabouts of the remains of most of those executed remain unknown.

The execution of such a large number of individuals, within such a short time frame, is an appalling act under any circumstance. What makes this case even more of an atrocity is the fact that the executions were not preceded by proper judicial processes, in violation of half a dozen articles (articles 6 though 11) of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), to which Iran is a signatory. Such a widespread, indiscriminate and concerted violation of the most basic rights of a group of human beings must necessarily be characterized as a crime against humanity as a whole.

According to a letter written by Ayatollah Montazeri -- the designated successor to the post of Supreme Leader at the time -- addressed to Ayatollah Khomeini, many of those executed had already been 'tried' and sentenced to lesser punishments in the past, or had even been found innocent of committing any crimes, and had not engaged in any new activities. This act "shows total disregard for all judicial guidelines and the verdicts of judges", Ayatollah Montazeri noted.

None of those executed was accorded a public trial by an independent and impartial tribunal. Nor was any accorded legal counsel or the right to appeal the verdict. None was granted the "right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the
constitution or by law" as required by article 8 of the UDHR.

Noting the recent emphasis by the authorities of the Islamic Republic on the rule of law and building a civil society, the Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG) demands from the current administration in Iran to launch a full investigation into the 1988 mass execution of political prisoners;

to provide the public with the number and identity of the victims; and to reveal the burial sight of the victims;

to identity those responsible for violating the human rights of the executed prisoners; to establish a tribunal to publicly try those responsible for these executions (which were in violation of the IRI's own constitution and laws);

to pledge to punish those found guilty of participation in the massacre of these prisoners.

to release the remains of the victims to their families;

Furthermore, we demand from the Iranian government:

to immediately release all prisoners of conscience.

to pledge to provide fair and public hearings/trials by independent tribunals for all prisoners, regardless of their [alleged] crimes and/or political ideology or affiliation.

to pledge to provide legal counsel, and the right to appeal court decisions, to all prisoners, regardless of their political ideology and/or affiliation with the government.

Finally, the mass execution of prisoners in 1988 is a stark illustration of the detrimental nature of the death
penalty itself. We therefore once more urge the government of the Islamic Republic to abolish the death
penalty altogether.

Iranian Human Rights Working Group (IHRWG)

September 4, 1998