Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Mehdi Moqaddam Hosseini


Age: 49
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: June 2, 1979
Location of Killing: Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Corruption on earth; Murder of persons and/or killing Muslims or/and freedom fighters
Age at time of alleged offense: 49

About this Case

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was a family man who spent time with his children and encouraged them to read. He respected their intellectual independence. He did not break out of prison when rioting took place inside, hoping there would be a fair trial where his case would be heard and he would be proven innocent.

News and information regarding the execution of Colonel Mehdi Moqaddam Hosseini was obtained from an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center with two individuals who knew him (January 24, and 29, 2021). News of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s execution and that of six other individuals was also published in Kayhan (June 2, 1979), and Ayandegan (June 3, 1979) newspapers. Additional information was obtained from Ettela’at newspaper (April 23, and 28, May 14, 29, 30, and 31, and June 4, 1979); Ayandegan newspaper (June 10, and 14, 1979); an interview conducted with Mr. Jaber Ahmad, political activist and researcher form the city of Ahvaz (April 16, 2021); documents, including the judgment bearing the signature of the Shari’a Judge and the then-Islamic Revolution Prosecutor of Ahvaz, a certificate signed by  the then-Islamic Revolution Prosecutor of Ahvaz, the picture of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s body; and other documents and sources.* 

According to available information, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was born on April 17, 1930, in Tehran in a low income family. He was married and had two daughters and a hearing impaired son. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini graduated from the Officers Training University, and went on to Fort Sill military base in the U.S. state of Oklahoma to continue his education. He served in the Army [Ground Forces] in Esfahan, and at the Army Headquarters in Lavizan [then just outside Tehran]. He was very motivated and hard-working and climbed up the military ladder very quickly. He was transferred to the city of Ahvaz in 1976, along with his family, to serve as commander of the Khuzestan 92ndArtillery Armored Division in order to fulfill [service] outside Tehran and reach the rank of brigadier-general; he took up residence in Army housing there. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021; documents). 

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was a kind, polite, honest, handsome, and well-dressed family man. He liked mountain climbing, cycling, and basketball, and pursued swimming and volleyball professionally. He organized a volleyball team in every base he served and encouraged his soldiers to exercise. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini spent his free time with his family. He was a Moslem but respected his children’s opinions and encouraged them to read and study. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini would distribute his allotment of food given to him by the Army, in poor neighborhoods. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). 

In the months culminating in the February 1979 Revolution, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was Deputy Commander of Ahvaz Military Command, and tried very hard during the demonstrations to “avoid clashes and bloodshed” between protesters and military forces. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021).

The Events of Khuzestan from the Onset of the Revolution Until June 1979 

One month after the February 1979 Islamic Revolution, the fall of the armed forces, and the challenges facing the newly-installed central government, Ayatollah Khomeini wrote a letter to Ayatollah Mohammad Taher Al Shobair Khaghani, political and religious leader of Khuzestan’s ethnic Arabs, on February 20, 1979, in which he mandated him with the mission of establishing committees in order to restore order in the region. Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani was considered an influential cleric in the region and even had supporters and followers in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar. He was also among those who did not think it was right “for the clergy to directly interfere in governmental affairs”. Following Ayatollah Khomeini’s request, he established committees made up of the region’s Arabs and tribes, which later came to be known as “The Moslem Arab People of Iran’s Political Organization”. (Boroumand Center research; Imam Khomeini Portal, February 20, 1979; Ayandegan newspaper, June 10, 1979). 

At the same time, a group of Arab activists founded cultural centers in various towns in Khuzestan province. Certain factions were not pleased, however, with the establishment of independent committees comprised of Arabs and with the formation of cultural centers: A group of revolutionaries close to Ayatollah Khomeini started “The [city of] Khorramshahr Cultural – Military Center”, as a parallel institution to the aforementioned groups. On April 16, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters conducted a sit-in at Khorramshahr’s Great Mosque demanding “general disarmament and the dissolution of unofficial [and unauthorized] centers and organizations” in Khuzestan.** (Boroumand Center research; interview with Mr. Jaber Ahmad, political activist and researcher from Ahvaz, April 16, 2021; Ayandegan newspaper, June 10, 1979). 

In late April 1979, Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani announced that he would leave Iran as a sign of protest against “the Committees’ arbitrary interference; attacks on people’s homes, making arrests, and [hurling baseless] accusations; conducting trials that do not conform with principles of Shari’a; the government’s failure to prevent these actions; and the government’s procrastination in [honoring] various peoples their legal and Shari’a-based rights, including the Arab peoples”. After negotiations with Ayatollah Khomeini’s representative, Ayatollah Shobair gave the central government time to resolve the issues. Furthermore, on April 26, 1979, a 30-person delegation*** representing Arab Peoples first met with the Prime Minister and the government spokesman, and then with Ayatollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Taleqani, Ayatollah Shariatmadari, and a number of other high-ranking religious leaders. The delegation’s demands were:  Having a federal system for the administration of the region; allowing Arab peoples’ participation in making macro decisions; having the right of education in their mother tongue, and actual education in their mother tongue; giving priority to local people when hiring; allocating a portion of the country’s oil revenue to the development of the region; and taking into consideration the people of the region’s culture [and traditions]. The delegation returned to Khuzestan without any achievements. (Ettele’at newspaper, April 23, and 28, 1979; interview with Mr. Jaber Ahmad, political activist and researcher from Ahvaz and member of the 30-person delegation April 16, 2021). From then until June 1979, negotiations were ongoing between Ayatollah Shobair, the central government, and Rear-Admiral Ahmad Madani, then-Governor of Khuzestan Province, in order to keep the calm in the region and to meet the demands of the Arab people of Khuzestan. In the course of these negotiations, disarming the region and shutting down political centers active in the region, were put forth as the government’s most important objectives, without any consideration being given to the Arab peoples’ demands.**** (WikiLeaks, March 20, 2014, the document regarding May 30, 1979; Ettela’at newspaper, May 14, 1979). 

On the morning of May 21, 1979, the final deadline set by the government to evacuate government buildings, the Arab People’s Political Organization and the Arab People’s Cultural Center made separate announcements in which they refused to evacuate, and [proceeded to] conduct sit-ins in their [respective] offices. They also made disarmament contingent upon a nationwide disarmament. (Boroumand Center research). 

In response to these actions, on orders of Khuzestan Province Governor, Ahmad Madani, Navy commandos and forces from the Tehran and Lorestan [Province] Revolutionary Guards Corps entered Khuzestan in order to disarm various groups and individuals in the region. On May 28, 1979, as Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani was conducting negotiations with central and local government officials regarding the demands of Khuzestan’s ethnic Arabs, Navy commandos arrested and disarmed several members of the Arab People’s Political Organization. Although Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani described the negotiations as successful, an incident in the city of Khorramshahr’s Customs Office in the early evening of May 29, 1979, in which 2 people were killed, threw the region into chaos. Official media announced that a Customs employee and a member of the Revolutionary Guards had been killed, and put the blame on the members of the Arab People’s Political Organization. The Organization denied any involvement. A document published by WikiLeaks regarding correspondence between the United States Embassy in Tehran and the State Department quotes the Swedish Consular Representative in Khorramshahr alluding to the labor protests in the region, and stating that the two individuals killed were two ethnic Arabs killed by a member of the Revolutionary Guards. It was also claimed that shots had been fired from inside a car in various places in town, including in front of the police [headquarters] in the morning of May 30, 1979. Although the people inside the car were never identified, the shooting was also imputed to the Arab People’s Political Organization’s members. Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani denied the allegations and said: “They could have stopped the car if a car had indeed been here, and they could have arrested its passengers. There was no need for a blood bath. Government officials claim there are SAVAK (the Shah’s secret police) members and rioters here; I will be more than happy to assist them in their investigations. But how do they justify killing the people?” Following the shooting, Revolutionary Guards forces, Navy commandos, and members of the Khorramshahr Cultural – Military Center attacked the Arab People’s Political Organization members in Khorramshahr and extensive clashes occurred between the two sides across town. In the clashes that occurred that day – which came to be known as “Black Wednesday” among Khuzestan’s ethnic Arabs – between 30 and 70 people were killed and 170 to 400 people were reported injured.***** (Boroumand Center research; Kayhan newspaper, June 2, 1979; Ettele’at newspaper, May 29, and 30, 1979; WikiLeaks, March 20, 2014, the document regarding May 30, 1979; Ayandegan newspaper, June 10, 1979). 

On June 1, 1979, Sadeq Khalkhali was dispatched to the region as the Shari’a Judge. Khalkhali who, ever since his appointment to the position of Shari’a Judge (that is, Chief judge of revolutionary courts in the entire country), had issued countless death sentences after convening summary [court-martials] and arbitrary trials, proceeded to hold the same type of summary trials in Khuzestan. He issued death sentences for a number of individuals immediately following mass trials, some of whom had been arrested in the summer of 1979 on charges of cooperation with the Pahlavi regime; the sentences were carried out immediately. Some of the region’s human rights activists have estimated the number of dead and executed on May 30 1979, at close to 300.****** (Boroumand Center research; BBC Persian, September 17, 2013). 

Arrest and detention

On the morning of February 11, 1979, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini went to the Ahvaz 92ndArmored Division Base where he served. He called his wife at approximately 10 AM and told her to leave their home with their children. 

At noon on February 11, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini went to see his family at a friend’s house, and even though his family insisted that he not return to the base, he did. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). 

According to available information, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was arrested in the afternoon of February 11, 1979, at the 92ndArmored Division Base in the city of Ahvaz. That same night, two soldiers went to his family’s residence to get some of his personal effects such as towels and toothbrush. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021). 

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family did not know where he was being kept for approximately one month. They learned that he had been transferred to Tehran’s Qasr Prison in mid-March. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife was able to visit with him once for about 10 minutes at the Prison in Noruz (Iranian New Year) of 1979. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was transferred to Ahvaz’ Karun Prison in early April 1979. In Ahvaz, a number of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family members had weekly in-person visitations with him for about 15 minutes. Visitations took place in the presence of a soldier and Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini and his family would ask how everyone was doing and basically just engage in chit chat. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). 

During detention, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini “quickly got old and all his hair went gray” and “he lost a significant amount of weight”. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini “tried to keep his spirits up during visitations”. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 29, 2021). 

During the protests and clashes between the Arab People’s Political Organization forces with the central government on May 31, 1979, a number of the city of Ahvaz’ Karun Prison inmates were able to destroy the Prison’s visitation hall wall and break out. (Ettela’at newspaper, May 31, 1979). Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini and other military people detained in the Prison did not flee and chose to stay. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021). 

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini did not have access to an attorney during detention. 


The Ahvaz Islamic Revolution Court convened at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on June 1, 1979, in the presence of Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, the Shari’a Judge (i.e. chief judge of the country’s revolutionary courts) who had arrived in Ahvaz that same day, and the Ahvaz Prosecutor Abolqassem Sattarian. Without informing Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini ‘s family, the court decided the fate of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini and 7 other individuals. (Kayhan newspaper, June 2, 1979; Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife told the Boroumand Center’s source that “the trial Khalkhali held was no trial at all.” (Boroumand Center interviews, January 29, 2021). 

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini did not have access to an attorney at trial. 


No specific charge was lodged against Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini. According to media reports, the charge brought against all of the individuals that were tried in a mass trial that day was “cracking down on and prosecuting innocent people; ordering direct shootings that resulted in murder; beating the people of Ahvaz; forceful suppression of the zealous people of Khuzestan’s righteous demonstrations; and taking away their fundamental, natural, and Shari’a rights.” (Kayhan newspaper, June 2, 1979). 

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.  International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown. 

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant.


There is no information on the details of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s defense in court. He did not have access to an attorney. 

The investigating judge in Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s case had told his wife that he had learned after the fact that Khalkhali had taken the prisoners to be tried. According to this person, Khalkhali had decided the case without reading Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s case file which included his interrogations and the questioning of witnesses. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). 

At noon on February 11, 1979, prior to returning to the base where he served, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini had told his family: “I’m a soldier and I have done nothing wrong. I have not killed anyone, nor have I ordered anyone to open fire on people. I have only done my job. One should be afraid only if one has done something wrong. I have done nothing wrong and I have nothing to be concerned about.” When Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini had the chance to break out of prison because of the rioting that had taken place, he had told the prison guard “I have done nothing wrong. I’m a soldier and I have always tried to prevent people from being killed.” (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021). 

In order to follow up on his case, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife went to [the Office of] Ayatollah Khomeini, the Leader of the Revolution, to the country’s Revolutionary Prosecutor, the Ahvaz Revolutionary Court Chief Judge, the Army Investigating Judge, the Ahvaz Friday Prayer Imam, and the Qasr Prison Warden, and requested orally and in writing that her husband be tried and that his case be adjudicated in accordance with the law. The Ahvaz Revolutionary Court Chief Judge had told Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family: “I will support him at trial.” The Army Investigating Judge had stated: “Not one person has brought a complaint against Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini. There is nothing in his case file that would indicate that he has done anything against the people.” The Ahvaz then-Friday Prayer Imam had said that he was willing to testify in court that Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini was innocent. He had stressed: “We did not see any inhuman act from Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini in the course of the revolution.” The then-Revolutionary Prosecutor had told the families of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini and other military personnel who had gone to follow up on their loved ones’ cases: “Nothing will happen to them if they haven’t done anything wrong.” The then-Warden of Qasr Prison had also told Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife: “Don’t worry about your husband, he will be released. He has done nothing against the people.” (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). 

A soldier that was present at the time of Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s arrest had told his family: “These people will not be tried and they will all be executed. The only one who can have them released is Khomeini.” That was why in late May 1979, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife had gone to Ayatollah Khomeini’s Office and had submitted her petition to the Office staff. She had been told on behalf of Ayatollah Khomeini: “You will get a response.” (Boroumand Center interviews, January 29, 2021). 


On June 1, 1979, the Ahvaz Islamic Revolutionary Court found Colonel Mehdi Moqaddam Hosseini “Mohareb (“one who wages war”) against God, God’s Prophet, the Imam of Time (the Shiite religion’s twelfth and last Imam who is said to have disappeared only to reappear to save the world), and the Moslem people”, and sentenced him to death. 

Colonel Mehdi Moqaddam Hosseini and 6 other individuals were shot by firing squad at 5:45 in the morning of June 2, 1979 at a school in the city of Ahvaz.

In late May 1979, Colonel Moqadda Hosseini’s family submitted a petition to Ayatollah Khomeini’s [Office] and was told: “You will get a response.” Approximately a week later, his family heard the news of his execution on the radio.

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family heard the news of his execution on the radio’s morning news. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021). 

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family told the Boroumand Center’s source that 9 bullets had been lodged in his chest. Furthermore, one of his arms had been severed from the elbow because of the severity of the shots. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021; documents).

According to available documentation, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini refused to write a will.

In an open letter to Ayatollah Khomeini, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife requested that a commission comprised of the government’s representative, Ayatollah Khomeini’s special representative, and the family’s representative be formed in order to re-examine Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s case. She had also requested that the Commission/s decisions be immediately communicated to Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family and relatives. Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s wife had also asked Ayatollah Khomeini that the family be provided with the Colonel’s will, the minutes (transcript) of the court that sentenced Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini to death, witnesses’ testimonies, and the sentence document bearing Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s signature. (Ayandegan, June 4, 1979). Neither Ayatollah Khomeini nor anyone in his office or entourage responded to the letter. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 29, 2021). 

Furthermore, according to the person who knew Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini, his Army-provided home in Ahvaz was sacked and looted. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021). 

Additionally, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family was not permitted to bury him in Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery, and was told that he should be buried in “La’natabad” (literally meaning “place for the damned”; these are cemeteries or sections of cemeteries that the Islamic Republic has reserved for its undesirables ever since its inception). Approximately one week later, they were able to bury him in [the city of] Karaj, quietly and without holding any ceremonies. Furthermore, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family was deprived of his salary and benefits due to them from the Armed Forces. His older daughter, who was 16 at the time, had to start working after her father’s execution in order to help the family to make ends meet. She was not allowed to pursue her education when universities re-opened in the fall of 1982 (after the Cultural Revolution) and was given the explanation “we can tell from the way you look that you’re an anti-revolutionary”. After he learned of her father’s execution, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s son experienced temporary muscular paralysis and was not able to move for some time. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, and 29, 2021). 

Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini’s family wrote letters to international institutions after his execution, including the United Nations Office in Tehran and the Red Cross, asking them to look into Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini ‘s “murder” and execution without a trial. (Boroumand Center interviews, January 29, 2021). 

In a letter written in prison, Colonel Moqaddam Hosseini had said to her older daughter: “The conditions under the Revolution are such that there is no distinction between the guilty and the innocent. There is no justice under these conditions. But I’m a soldier. It doesn’t matter how I die for my country, this is something that I chose myself. It was my choice to die for my country. Do not be upset and do not be sad, otherwise life will become very unpleasant for you.” (Boroumand Center interviews, January 24, 2021). 


* Other sources include: Imam Khomeini Portal (February 20, 1979); WikiLeaks (March 20, 2014, the document regarding May 30, 1979); BBC Persian (September 17, 2013); and research conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center. 
** Following negotiations between government officials and the people conducting the sit-ins, the Khuzestan Governor’s Office demanded that the Arab People’s Political Organization, the Arab People’s Cultural Center, and the Khorramshahr Cultural – Military Center evacuate the locations they had occupied by May 21, 1979, and disarm by May 25. On the other hand, Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani emphasized freedom of speech and belief for all political and non-political groups. (Boroumand Center research; Ayandegan newspaper, June 10, 1979). 
*** This delegation was composed of political activists, representatives of local clerics, teachers and university professors, leaders of tribes and ethnic groups, and former political prisoners. (Interview with Mr. Jaber Ahmad, political activist and researcher from Ahvaz and member of the 30-person delegation April 16, 2021). 
**** On May 13, 1979, an announcement was distributed across the city of Khorramshahr which stated that Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani had been disrespected and insulted. A number of the region’s locals and members of the Arab People’s Political Organization conducted a sit-in in front of the City Governor’s Office and the city’s Imam Sadeq Mosque in protest. Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani gave a speech to the protesters and stated that the Khorramshahr Cultural – Military Center members were “affiliated with foreigners” and “sowed division” [among the Arab people]. At the conclusion of his speech in front of the Center’s building, an armed clash occurred between members of the Arab People’s Political Organization and the Khorramshahr Cultural – Military Center, and the Center’s building was set ablaze. (Ettela’at newspaper, May 14, 1979). 
***** These clashes were occurring more or less in other towns in Khuzestan Province. A document published by WikiLeaks regarding correspondence between the United States Embassy in Tehran and the State Department quotes the Italian Consular Representative in Khorramshahr describing the conditions in Khorramshahr on that day as “burning hell”. (Boroumand Center research; Kayhan newspaper, June 2, 1979; Ettele’at newspaper, May 29, and 30, 1979; WikiLeaks, March 20, 2014, the document regarding May 30, 1979; Ayandegan newspaper, June 10, 1979). 
****** Subsequent to these events, an armed group named “The Black Wednesday Fedaiyan Group”; forces affiliated with the Arab People’s Political Organization; Arabia Liberation Front; Al-Harekat Al-Jamahiria (“People’s Movement”); and several other groups, initiated and carried out armed operations targeting oil wells, oil pipelines, and other government facilities, that continued for a long time thereafter. (BBC Persian, September 17, 2013). 
On July 15, 1979, a grenade attack on the Third Day ceremonies of the killing of a Revolutionary Guardsman resulted in the siege of Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani’s home, his arrest, and his subsequent transfer to [the city of] Qom. Local officials announced that this was a measure necessary for his own protection. Several people were arrested that day as the perpetrators of the attack, three of whom were executed that same night, and two others the following day. (Ettela’at newspaper, July 16, 1979). After that day, aside from two statements, one of which was issued by Ayatollah Khomeini’s Office, no other news about Ayatollah Shobair Khaghani was published to inform the public. In those two statements, he alluded to “solidarity and brotherhood” without mentioning the rights of the Arab people which he had up until then always emphasized, and asked people to obey Ayatollah Khomeini and the central government. He stayed in Qom until his death in 1985-86, without ever having the possibility of either teaching or leaving the city. (Boroumand Center research; Kayhan newspaper, July 22, and 29, 1979).

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