Civil status Single
Education high school diploma
Occupation armed/security forces
Affiliation sympathizer of Islamic revolutionary armed group at the time of arrest
Affiliation army, current regime
Date of execution July 8, 1981
Location Maqar-e Pasdaran Detention Center, Esfahan, Iran
Mode of execution shooting
Charges Participating in armed demonstrations; Unspecified offense
About this Case
Information about Mr. Mahmud Mirza’i Alavicheh has been drawn from an electronic form sent to Omid by his brother. Mr. Mirza’i Alavicheh was born in Esfehan in 1959. As his older brother Ahmad (who was executed in 1988), he became interested in the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in 1979. Having graduated from high school, he started his compulsory military service in Esfehan’s garrison, and voluntarily enlisted to serve in the military during the Iran-Iraq war. His return from war front coincided with the confrontations of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization and the government of the Islamic Republic. He actively participated in such clashes despite military rules. When he was called to serve in Shahrekord (Chaharmahal va Bakhtiari province), he refused to go.
Arrest and detention
Mr. Mirza’i Alavicheh was arrested one day after the demonstration of June 20, 1981, organized by Mojahedin Khalq Organization. According to his brother, “as many other sympathizers of this Organization, he was unaware of the significance and the consequences of the Demonstration of June 20. He thought of it as just another event in a series of struggles, such as the war, in the preceding months.” On June 21, Mr. Mirza’i Alavicheh went to a public bathhouse called “Namnabat” located on Ebn-e Sina street in Esfehan, with a wounded arm. Around noon, forces from the Basij para-military group entered the bathhouse and arrested him for “absence from military service and participation in clashes against the regime.”
Mr. Mirza’i Alavicheh was detained the base of the Revolutionary Guards, located in the former building of Savak political police headquarters. Despite the gathering of prisoners’ families at prison, they were not allowed any visits. About 4 hours before the execution, at 11 p.m. on July 7, his brother Ahmad heard Mahmud’s voice saying that he thought he was to be transferred to a prison on an island in the Persian Gulf.
The demonstration of June 20, 1981, took place in protest against the parliament’s impeachment of President Banisadr and the Islamic Republic’s systematic policy of excluding the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from the country’s political scene, the refusal of Ayatollah Khomeini to meet with MKO leaders and his insistence for them to disarm. The MKO had until then supported the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and agreed to function within the framework of the new political system.
On June 20th, the Organization officially changed its policy and tried to overthrow the regime by organizing mass demonstrations, in which some of the demonstrators were armed, all over the country. These demonstrations, which were severely suppressed and resulted in the killing of dozens of demonstrators, were followed by a wave of mass arrests and executions by the Revolutionary Guards and para-military forces that targeted not only the MKO, but all other opposition groups. The massive repression, unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic, legitimized as official government policy the months-old state harassment and suppression of dissidents and resulted in the banning of all forms of independent political dissent.
There is no information regarding this trial.
Mr. Mirza’i Alavicheh was arrested for “absence from military service and participation in clashes against the regime.”
Evidence of guilt
No information is available concerning the evidence presented against the accused.
No information is available concerning Mr. Mirza’i Alavicheh’s defense.
No specific information is available about the verdict leading to this execution. Mr. Mahmud Mirza’i Alavicheh was shot by a firing squad on July 8, 1981 at the base of the Revolutionary Guards Corps in Esfehan.
Human rights violations in this case
The legal context
Read about the courts, the judges, and the procedure.
Special courts, known as the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunals, were set up after the February 1979 revolution. Their jurisdiction encompasses a wide array of offences ranging from association with or support of the former regime, promotion of foreign influence, and enmity with the revolution to possession, use or sales of narcotic drugs, murder, and profiteering. In the 1980s, a penal court, presided over by one judge, was created to handle some of the offenses punishable by death, such as theft or adultery. These tribunals’ decisions must be confirmed by a chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily jurists. By 1981, the judiciary was purged of judges trained in law schools. They were replaced by seminary graduates and students, as well as by political appointees (an estimated 2000 by 1989). Since by law judges are only required to have a high school diploma and must be faithful to the Islamic Republic’s tenets, new recruits often have little formal training in the law and are chosen because of their political affiliation.
The procedures of these ecclesiastical tribunals fail to meet the minimum guarantees for fair trial as established by international human rights instruments and by sha’ria (the Islamic system of law). In addition to executions ordered by revolutionary tribunals, extra-judicial executions are carried out, targeting dissidents and opposition leaders. In some cases, both inside and outside of Iran, these executions have been traced back to Iranian officials. It is, however, not known if in these particular cases trials are held in absentia.
Sources (Among others): Amnesty International, Law and Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 1980; Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, The Justice System of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1992; E/CN.4/1989/26 p.14; UNCHR, Resolution 1984/54 , Abolition of Torture - Iran - 1; 28 November 1984; Report on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Special Representative of the Commission, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, 28 January 1987. Amnesty International, A SHOCKED WORLD WATCHES IN DISBELIEF, VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 1987-1990. Memoirs of Ayatollah Khalkhali, religious judge and former head of revolutionary tribunals (2001), and Ayatollah Montazeri, dismissed successor to Ayatollah Khomeini (2001). UNCH, E/CN.4/1994/50, Final report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/62 of 10 March 1993 and Economic and Social Council decision 1993/273. E/CN.4/1994/50, 2 February 1994.
Detentions, interrogations, and trials: 1981-1988
Read about the conditions in which individuals were detained, tried and sentenced.
The accused were held, sometimes without being charged, for months or years in overcrowded prisons. During their detention, prisoners of conscience, and in particular supporters of political opposition groups or members of religious or ethnic minorities, were routinely subject to physical and psychological torture. Interrogators used torture, authorized by the post-revolutionary law of Ta’zir (Discretionary Punishment Law), to obtain confessions of guilt or to induce repentance. The line between trial and interrogation was often blurred by the fact that the same individual would function as prosecutor, interrogator and judge.
Executed detainees may or may not have been tried formally. Prisoners of conscience were often tried through a summary process that might have lasted only a few minutes. When disclosed, charges facing the defendants were often vague or based on coerced confessions. Defendants had no access to attorneys, and they might not have been allowed to defend themselves.
Convicts could not appeal their sentence and were often executed shortly after their conviction. Their execution was not necessarily announced.
Based on the available information, some or all of the following human rights may have been violated in this case:
The right to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.
The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.
UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2;
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.
In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.
The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.
UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.
The right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 21.
The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade union for the protection of one’s interests.
UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.
The right to due process
Pre-trial detention rights
The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.
UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a
The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence
ICCPR, Article 14.3.d;
Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1 , Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.
The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.b; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8
The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.
The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1, and Article 2.
The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.
ICCPR, Article 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.
The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.
The right to have the decision rendered in public.
ICCPR, Article 14.1.
The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.
The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.