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The 1988 executions of political prisoners in Iran (Persian: ۱۳۶۷ ‫)اعدام زندانیان سیاسی در تابستان‬

refers to the state-sponsored execution of political prisoners across Iran, starting on 19 July 1988
and enduring for approximately five months. The majority of those killed were supporters of the
People's Mujahedin of Iran, although supporters of other leftist factions, including the Fedaian and
the Tudeh Party of Iran (Communist Party), were executed as well.[1][2]
The killings have been described as a political purge without precedent in modern Iranian history,
both in terms of scope and coverup.[3] However, the exact number of prisoners executed remains
a point of contention. Amnesty International recorded the names of over 4,482 disappeared
prisoners during this time,[4] but Iranian opposition groups suggest that the number of prisoners
executed was far higher, and as many as 30,000 dissidents may have been executed.[5][6]
Great care was taken to keep the killings undercover, and the government of Iran currently denies
their having taken place. Justifications offered for the alleged executions vary, but one of the most
common theories advanced is that they were in retaliation for the 1988 attack on the western
borders of Iran by the PMOI Mujahedin. However, this happened months after the executions
commenced and does not fully account for the targeting of other leftist groups who opposed the
Mujahedin invasion
Shortly before the executions commenced, Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued "a secret but
extraordinary order - some suspect a formal fatwa." This set up "Special Commissions with
instructions to execute members of People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran as moharebs (those
who war against Allah) and leftists as mortads (apostates from Islam)."[8]
In part the letter read:

‫از آنجا که منافقین خائن به هیچ وجه به اسلم معتقد نبوده و هر چه میگویند از روی حیله و نفاق آنهاست و به‬
‫ با توجه به محارب بودن آنها و جنگ کلسیک آنها در شمال و‬،‫اقرار سران آنها از اسلم ارتداد پیدا کردهاند‬
‫غرب و جنوب کشور با همکاریهای حزب بعث عراق و نیز جاسوسی آنها برای صدام علیه ملت مسلمان ما و با‬
‫توجه به ارتباط آنان با استکبار جهانی و ضربات ناجوانمردانهه آنان از ابتدای تشکیل نظام جمهوری اسلمی تا‬
‫ محارب و محکوم‬،‫ کسانی که در زندانهای سراسر کشور بر سر موضع نفاق خود پافشاری کرده و میکنند‬،‫کنون‬
(147:‫ پاسداشت حقیقت‬،‫« )رضایی و سلیمی نمین‬.‫به اعدام میباشند‬


PMOI members do not believe in Islam, while pretending otherwise.
Due to their systematic military war in the northern, western and southern Iranian borders ...
Due to their cooperation with Saddam Hussein in war against Iran ...
Due to spying against Iran ...
Due to their connections with Western powers ([acting against Iran's independence]) ...
all those jailed PMOI members who continue supporting PMOI and its positions are considered
militant enemies and need to be executed."
Administering of the executions[edit]
In Tehran the special commission for the executions had 16 members representing the various
authorities of the Islamic government - Imam Khomeini himself, the president, the chief

prosecutor. The chair of the commission was Ayatollah Eshraqi. According to one report: "prison officials took the unusual step in late 1987 and early 1988 of re-questioning and separating all political prisoners according to party affiliation and length of sentence. were all closed down and inmates were confined to their cells. Prison gates were closed. After the first few days. the main law courts went on an unscheduled vacation. the commission continued with such questions 'Are you willing to denounce former colleagues?' 'Are you willing to denounce them in front of the cameras?' 'Are you willing to help us hunt them down?' 'Will you name secret sympathizers?' 'Will you identify phony repenters?' 'Will you go to the war front and walk through enemy minefields?' Not surprisingly almost all the prisoners failed to answer in the affirmative to all the questions. The commission shuttled back and forth between Evin and Gohar Dasht prisons by helicopter. cell blocks were isolated from each other and cleared of radios and televisions. the Revolutionary Tribunals. "some took fifteen minutes to die. if not most. but were "tried" on charges totally unrelated to the charges that had landed them in prison. but stringing up the victim by the neck to suffocate. the two prisons in the Tehran area from which the prisoner were eliminated. and spectacles. They were then blindfolded and taken to the gallows where they were hanged in batches of six. scheduled visits and telephone calls were canceled. the Ministries of Justice and Intelligence. Some of the victims were killed because of their beliefs about religion – because they were atheists or because they were Muslims who followed different versions of Islam. If they replied 'Mojahedin'. and the administration of Evin and Gohar Dasht. such as lecture halls. watches. If they replied 'monafeqin' (hypocrites). infirmaries. In the provinces similar commissions were established."[10] The actual execution process began in the early hours of 19 July 1988 with the isolation of the political prisoners from the outside world. It first asked their organizational affiliation. These were then taken to another room and ordered to write their last will and testament and to discard any personal belongings such as rings. workshops. care packages. though it is thought that the real . the questioning ended there. One prisoner constructed a homemade wireless set to listen to the radio news from the outside but found news broadcasters were saying nothing at all about the lockdown The first prisoners to be interviewed or "tried" were the male Mojahedin. Isolation of the prisoners[edit] Some scholarly examinations of the massacre argue that the planning stages of the 1988 Massacre began months before the actual executions started. Places where prisoners gathered communally. letters. His two special assistants were Hojatt al-Islam Nayeri and Hojjat al-Islam Mobasheri. Inside the prison. the overworked executioners requested firing squads. of the prisoners were unaware of the true purpose of the questions.[8] The prisoners were not executed without any proceedings. The commission prefaced the proceedings with the false assurance that this was not a trial but a process for initiating a general amnesty and separating the Muslims from the non-Muslims. These requests were rejected on the claim that the sharia mandated hanging for apostates and enemies of Allah. including those who had repented of their association with the group. Many. Even relatives of prisoners were forbidden to congregate outside the prison gates. although later some were warned by the prison grapevine. They were interviewed by commissions with a set list of questions to see if they qualified as moharebs or mortads to the satisfaction of that commission. and even vital medicines from the outside were turned away. but less is known about them. Prison guards and workers were ordered not to speak to prisoners. Since "hanging" did not mean death by breaking of the neck by drop through a trap door.

the real reason was to determine whether the prisoners qualified as apostates from Islam. At first this secrecy was effective. Kumaleh. 'In previous years. In 1988." The questioners wanted to know why prisoners' fathers prayed. These were also assured they were in no danger and asked:[citation needed] 'Are you a Muslim?' 'Do you believe in Allah?' 'Is the Holy Koran the Word of Allah?' 'Do you believe in Heaven and Hell?' 'Do you accept the Holy Muhammad to be the Seal of the Prophets?' 'Will you publicly recant historical materialism?' 'Will you denounce your former beliefs before the cameras?' 'Do you fast during Ramadan?' 'Do you pray and read the Holy Koran?' 'Would you rather share a cell with a Muslim or a non-Muslim?' 'Will you sign an affidavit that you believe in Allah.members of the Tudeh. After August 27.'[14] It also meant there was no correlation between the length of sentence being served and the likelihood of death.reason may have been that the hanging was quieter than gunfire and would better preserve the secrecy of the operation. and the Resurrection?' 'When you were growing up did your father pray. they wanted us to convert to Islam. A leftist prisoner "who had at one time attended a seminary quickly grasped the theological significance of the questions" and "spent the night of August 30 sending morse code messages to other cells" by knocking on the prison walls. other Fedayi. If they had not been raised in proper Muslim homes first and "exposed to true Islam. Minority Fedayi. fast. Majority Fedayi. and read the Koran because the sons of those fathers who had not could not be called apostates. "The first leftist to go before the Evin commission were those with light. . the Holy Koran. Peykar. and read the Holy Koran?' Prisoners were told that authorities were asking them these questions because they planned to separate practicing Muslims from non-practicing ones.'" which "could itself be taken as an admission of 'apostasy. Some prisoners saved from execution by answering the questions properly returned to their cells and passed along what the commission was asking. the Prophet. fasted." These had no warning of what was in store and many died. Rah-e Kargar.'"[13] All this was a surprise to the prisoners. However. and even completed. etc. the commission turned its attention to the leftist prisoners . one commenting. in which case they would join the moharebs in the gallows." they could not be apostates. Another wrong answer was refusing to answer "on the grounds of 'privacy. they wanted us to confess to spying. "One survivor admits that he thought he was being processed to be released in time for the forthcoming peace celebrations. sentences. He pointed "out the hidden dangers.