Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Brigadier General Gholamhossein Ala'i


Age: 55
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: June 2, 1979
Location of Killing: Masjed Soleyman, Khuzestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Murder of persons and/or killing Muslims or/and freedom fighters; Corruption on earth

About this Case

Loyal to country, loyal to Shah, is the impression he made on those close to him.  He never opted to leave, once the events of 1979 made him vulnerable.

The information regarding Brigadier General Gholamhossein Ala’i’s case was drawn from various emails, including an Electronic form (ABF E-form), his execution verdict and the official death certificate, which were sent to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) by individuals close to him; and from two reports by two separate daily newspapers: Kayhan, 2 June 1979 and Jomhuri Eslami, 3 June 1979.

Brigadier General Ala’i was a member of the army and held the titles of Commander of the Masjedsoleiman Garrison and Commander of the Hakhamaneshi Tank Refurbishing and Remanufacturing Factory. He was an officer of the army intelligence unit (Rokne Do) and at times deputy commander. He also spent time in Iraq around 1965 as the military attaché at the Embassy of Iran and served the last 4 years of his military career in Masjedsoleiman. At the time of his arrest, he was 55 and had two children. According to people close to him, he was not affiliated to any political groups or parties. He was very loyal to the country and the Shah, which contributed to the reason why he did not leave Iran after the 1979 Revolution. His family and friends remembered him as a kind and honest person (ABF E-forms and emails).

Arrest and detention

Brigadier General Ala’i was arrested on 13 February 1979 by his subordinate officers and members of Masjedsoleiman Revolutionary Committees at his house. The officials who made his arrest did not have a warrant (ABF E-form).

Brigadier General Ala’i was taken to the local office of the Revolutionary Committee in Masjedsoleiman, and after a couple of days he was transferred to Qasr Prison in Tehran. He also spent some time in Ahvaz Prison. His detention lasted from the 13th of February to the 2nd of June in 1979, during which he did not have access to a lawyer and was granted only two visitations with his family. The ABF E-form describes his family’s visit to Qasr Prison: there were two rows of chicken-wire that had a two-meter distance from each other which separated the prisoners on one side and the families on the other side. A guard would go back and forth between the two rows to deliver the messages. Brigadier General Ala’i told his wife during a visitation in Ahvaz Prison that he had been subjected to mock executions at least three times. In addition, there was a burn mark in his forehead. The guards apparently used to burn him there with a mohr—a clayish stone on which Muslims put their foreheads for praying. This mark would imply that the person would be praying constantly.


Kayhan reported that the Revolutionary Tribunal of Ahvaz tried Brigadier General Ala’i along with 7 others. This trial took place at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, 1 June 1979 (Kayhan). But people close to him doubt that his trial ever took place (ABF E-forms and emails).


Kayhan reported Brigadier General Ala’i’s alleged charges along with 7 others collectively as: “repression and persecution of innocent people; ordering to shoot directly a people which led to the murder and assault of the people of Ahvaz and the violent repression of the people of Khuzestan during their righteous demonstrations; deprivation of freedom and basic natural and Islamic rights; and waging war on God, the Prophet of God, the Twelfth Imam, and the Muslim people."

People close to Brigadier General Ala’i say that the real reason of his conviction was related to a feud that the judge, Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, had with him. At the time Brigadier General Ala’i was a military attaché in Iraq, Ayatollah Khomeini was exiled to that country in 1965. During that time, many clerics came to visit Brigadier General Ala’i to request assistance in their pardon, etc. One of these clerics was Ayatollah Khalkhali. But Brigadier General Ala’i denied his request and when Ayatollah Khalkhali refused to leave his office, the Brigadier General called a couple of guards to throw him out (ABF email).

Evidence of guilt

No information is available concerning the evidence presented against the defendant.


Based on the information provided, Brigadier General Ala’i believed that he was innocent. According to people close to him, he wrote in his diary on the morning of his arrest: “I did nothing wrong and up to this day there is no innocent blood on my hands. I will be acquitted after a short investigation.” He was so confident about his innocence that even when there was a prison break at Ahvaz Prison during the onset of the revolution and all the prisoners escaped, he along with a small number of other prisoners of conscience refused to flee (ABF E-form and emails).

Moreover, ABF’s collected information and the report by Kayhan create serious doubts as to whether Brigadier General Ala’i’s right to due process was respected:

1. Throughout his detention, interrogation and trial, he was denied the legal assistance of a lawyer and was kept almost incommunicado. Ayatollah Khalkhali wrote in his memoir about trying defendants without the presence of a lawyer: “Regarding the fact that we don’t allow a lawyer in the court, I must say that according to the Islamic laws and the Islamic principles there is no indication that somebody can chose a lawyer for himself—except when he is mute and the individuals whom we are trying are not mute and are wise enough to answer our questions…” (Ayatollah Khalkhali’s memoir, page 78)

2. The family visitations were rare and under abnormal circumstances as stated above.

3. There were signs of torture or at least degrading acts with the defendant, but there is no evidence that the court considered this in the verdict.

4. According to the information sent to ABF, Brigadier General Ala’i wrote his defense himself without a lawyer’s assistance. This document was returned to his family along with his diary. However the reasons for why this document was returned, whether it was used in the court, or why it was not filed by the court remain unclear (ABF email).

5. Finally, the judge’s personal hostility toward Brigadier General Ala’i, the broad and vague nature of the charges, the lack of details regarding the dates and places of the alleged crimes or the names of the victims create doubts about the judge’s neutrality. Moreover, these factors were completely ignored by the judicial system.


Brigadier General Ala’i was executed on 2 June 1979 (Jomhuri Eslami, Kayhan). His execution verdict was signed by the Religious Judge one day after his execution on 3 June. This hand-written verdict has the header of “Executive Commission of Imam Khomeini, Judicial and Intelligence Section.” On the top of the page, a verse of Quran appears: “In Qesas, there is your life, wise men!” The verdict which mentions Brigadier General Ala’i's name incorrectly stated:

“In the name of God, hereby Brigadier General Gholamhossein Amir Ala’i is sentenced to execution; all his property excluding the livestock of his wife and children shall be confiscated, and his salary shall not be paid; and {his family} is not allowed to use the public budget.” This verdict was never served to anyone. Only after Brigadier General Ala’i’s brother followed up and filed a complaint against Ayatollah Khalkhali could he manage to obtain the verdict. In addition, all of Brigadier General Ala’i’s properties were confiscated which seems to go even beyond the original verdict that excluded the family’s livelihood from confiscation (ABF E-form and email).

According to Kayhan and Jomhuri Eslami, because Masjedsoleiman was the primary place in which Brigadier General Ala’i’s alleged crimes took place, he was transferred to there from Ahvaz. Subsequently, he would be taken before the execution squads.

On 2 June 1979 at 2:00 p.m., the local radio stated that 9 officers of the army were condemned to death, among which 8 of them had already been executed, and Brigadier General Ala’i had been transferred to Masjedsoleiman for execution. The Ala’i family was informed about his execution 24 hours later by an unknown phone call (ABF email).

Brigadier General Ala’i’s brother traveled from Tehran to Masjedsoleiman to retrieve his body. He found his brother near a creek where he was executed. He was not allowed to wash the body as is custom in Islamic tradition. He then filled the bullet holes with plaster to stop the bleeding and took the body to be buried in Tehran, but no cemetery accepted the body for burial. Finally, the victim’s body was taken from the family. Later they were told that he was buried in the “corruptors on earth’s section” in Behesht Zahra (Tehran’s cemetery). The Ala’i family still does not know the whereabouts of their beloved one’s grave (ABF E-form and emails).

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