Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Hossein Ferdosmakan


Age: 48
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: May 8, 1979
Location of Killing: Qasr Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Murder of persons and/or killing Muslims or/and freedom fighters
Age at time of alleged offense: 48

About this Case

News of the execution of Colonel Hossein Ferdosmakan, son of Mohammad Ali, was obtained through an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center with a person who knew him (June 3, 2019), and from an electronic form submitted by another person close to him (May 27, 2019). News of this execution and that of 21 other individuals was also published in Ayandegan, Ettela’at, and Kayhan newspapers (May 8, 1979). Additional information about this case was obtained from an interview with a former Gendarmerie colonel who knew Colonel Ferdosmakan (February 6, and 8, 2021), from the Boroumand Center’s research and interviews with eyewitnesses to the pro-Government and pro-Constitution demonstrations on January 25, 1979 (June 3, 2019, July 15, 2020, and October-December 2020), the Islamic Revolution Prosecutor’s Office’s letter (July 2, 1979), Mr. Ferdosmakan’s last will, Ettela’at newspaper (January 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, and 31, 1979, and February 5, 1979), Kayhan newspaper (January 25, and 29, 1979), and other sources*.

Colonel Ferdosmakan is one of 438 individuals whose execution was announced in Amnesty International’s March 1980 report. In this report, Amnesty International compiled and published a list of defendants in Revolutionary Tribunals from the latter’s’ inception until July-August 1979, based on reports by Iranian and foreign media, as well as the official Pars News Agency.

Colonel Ferdosmakan was born in 1930-31 in the city of Babol. He was married and had three children. After obtaining his diploma from Tehran’s Military [High] School, he attended and graduated from [the city of] Shiraz War University. He served for a time as an officer in the Army of the [Imperial] Armed Forces in [the cities of] Bandar Abbas, Sari, and Kerman. According to people close to him, at the request of the officials then in charge of the Gendarmerie who were in need of honest individuals in that force, Colonel Ferdosmakan, who was known as a person of honesty, integrity, and responsibility, served in the [cities of] Fassa, Qom, and Ardebil Gendarmerie from 1966-67 until 1977-78, with the rank of Colonel and as regiment commander. Colonel Ferdosmakan was transferred to Tehran a little over a year before the Revolution and served as Commander of Tehran Gendarmerie’s 24 Esfand (“March 14”) Base. (Boroumand Center interviews, June 8, 2019, and February 6, 2021).

Persons close to Colonel Ferdosmakan have described him as a simple and patriotic man who loved his work and the Shah, who would spend months away from his family on various missions, and who never used his position to amass wealth. After his death, there was a mere “18 Tumans” (equivalent to roughly 2.50 Dollars at the time) in Colonel Ferdosmakan’s bank account. A person with knowledge of the case and who knew Colonel Ferdosmakan very closely, described him as a highly respected and popular officer, well-educated and extremely kind, who treated the people below him with kindness and respect. According to people close to him, even though he had the opportunity to leave Iran, he had no desire to do so, and in response to a direct offer from a high-ranking military official, he had said “I will not leave Iran alone when it’s on fire”. (Boroumand Center interviews, June 3, 2019, and February 6, 2021).

After the 1979 Revolution, Colonel Ferdosmakan did not go to work for a month and a half, and lived with one of his relatives for a while. He returned to his home a few days prior to his arrest. (Boroumand Center interview, June 3, 2019).

Colonel Ferdosmakan’s case is related to the clashes in Tehran’s 24 Esfand Square on January 28, 1979.

The January 28, 1979 Event

On January 5, 1979, as the popular protests in the fall of 1978 and winter of 1979 reached an apex, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran, relegated the position of Prime Minister to Shapur Bakhtiar, one of his political opponents and Secretary General of the Iran Party, who had been one of the leaders of “Jebheye Melli Iran” or the Iranian National Front until January 1979. In his political platform, Mr. Bakhtiar insisted on political freedom within the framework of the law, and had said that the law even provided for a change in the political regime, and that the people could make decisions regarding their [political] destiny through elections. Ayatollah Khomeini who had by then settled in Paris, had called Shapur Bakhtiar’s government illegal in his speeches, interviews and messages, and had said: “Cooperating with this usurper government, in any form or fashion, is Haram (“strictly forbidden by Islamic law”) and legally a crime.” **(Sahifeye Noor, Volume Five)

In the last days of January, strikes, reactions to the news of Ayatollah Khomeini’s return, and the breakdown of the Prime Minister’s negotiations with Ayatollah Khomeini and his entourage, intensified the tension between the two sides. On the government’s orders, Mehrabad Airport was closed off on January 24, 1979, and that same night, all airports across the country were ordered closed.

On January 25, 1979, Tehran witnessed a large demonstration in support of [Bakhtiar’s] Government and the Constitution. The media have estimated the number of demonstrators at 100 to 150 thousand. The demonstrations started from Amjadieh Sports Complex and ended at Baharestan Square. During the demonstrations, the [revolutionaries] attacked the participants with sticks, bricks, and knives. These demonstrations occurred in certain other cities as well, in the course of which the [revolutionaries] chanted slogans against the Shah and in support of Ayatollah Khomeini. (Kayhan, January 25, 1979; Broumand Center’s research and interviews with several participants in the demonstrations, June 3, 2019, July 15, 2020, November-December 2020, Ettela’at newspaper, January 23, 24, and 25, 1979).

At the same time, having negotiated with the people close to Ayatollah Khomeini, Bakhtiar was prepared to travel to Paris to meet with the Ayatollah in order to discuss the future of the country and to find a long-term solution. On January 27, however, Ayatollah Khomeini sent a statement to the media in which he declared that he would negotiate with Bakhtiar only if he resigned as Prime Minister. The condition set by the Ayatollah was not acceptable to Bakhtiar, who intended to resolve the issues legally and as Head of Government. He postponed his trip to France to a future date while emphasizing that the window of opportunity for negotiations remained open. *** (The New York Times, January 27, 28, and 29, 1979; The Associated Press, January 28, 1979; Ettela’at newspaper, January 24, 1979).

On January 28, 1979, approximately 40 clerics conducted a sit-in at the Tehran University mosque, located on Shahreza Avenue (now called Enqelab Avenue), to protest the closure of airports and the resulting repeated delays in Ayatollah Khomeini’s return from Paris to Iran. Following the sit-in, a number of his supporters gathered in front of Tehran University on Shahreza Avenue (Enqelab Avenue), branching off from 24 Esfand (“March 14”) Square. People were chanting slogans such as “Leaders! Arm us!” According to available reports, between 2 and 2:30 in the afternoon, the crowd started moving from in front of the University toward 24 Esfand Square. With the demonstrators gathering in front of the Gendarmerie Headquarters, located at the intersection of Simetri Street (now named Kargar Jonubi) and 24 Esfand Square, clashes occurred between Gendarmerie forces, the Martial Law Command forces, and the people. There are conflicting reports, however, as to how these clashes got started. According to the Gendarmerie’s Public Relations office report that was published in the media on January 31, 1979, at 2:30 PM, “the rioters attacked the buses used for the transportation of Headquarters employees and set two of them on fire … Three guards at their post at the North Entrance shot several shots into the air in order to disperse the crowd; however, the rioters descended upon and occupied adjacent buildings and proceeded to fire and throw Molotov cocktails, which resulted in the martyrdom of a soldier and injury to a sergeant, and the officers mess hall being set ablaze. Therefore, and in order to strengthen the guards and break the blockade that we were subjected to, we asked the Martial Law Command for assistance …” In its January 29, 1979, report, Tehran’s Martial Law Command attributed the start of the clashes to the demonstrators’ attack on Gendarmerie buses and noted that some of them, who were in possession of machine guns, proceeded to open fire on the people and the officers. In another report, this organ alluded to the occupation of buildings adjacent to the Gendarmerie Headquarters and to armed individuals firing on the people and on military personnel from inside these buildings. **** (Ettela’at, January 31, 1979; Oral History; Iranian History).

The Associated Press reporter who was on the ground, reported the source of the clashes to have been the demonstrators’ efforts to set fire to the Gendarmerie Headquarters. The report also alludes to the presence of plainclothes snipers – whose identity was not known – on top of buildings firing on the people. According to this report, armed forces reinforcements fired on the demonstrators with machine guns. (The Associated Press, January 28, 1979).

Domestic media published conflicting reports regarding the time and manner the events got started. In one report, Kayhan newspaper stated 12 PM as the time the events started; in another report, the same newspaper stated that the clashes began at 3 PM.***** (Javanan-e Emrooz, February 5, 1979; Oral History; Kayhan, January 29, 1979, and May 8, 1979).

The presence of unidentified armed people has also been mentioned in reports by domestic media with leanings toward the anti-government [revolutionaries]. According to a report by Kayhan newspaper that same day, a number of individuals from the “Imam’s Welcoming Committee” forces were among the demonstrators. The latter Committee was established by the members of the Council of the Revolution on January 3, 1979, in order to carry out “activities [for the purpose of] maintaining and [ensuring] order in the welcoming ceremonies” planned for Ayatollah Khomeini. One of this Committee’s plans, that is, ensuring the maintenance of order, was to be done by a group of trained and armed individuals. The training and procurement of weapons for these individuals was done by groups trusted by Ayatollah Khomeini, including Yussef Kolahduz, member of the Imperial Guard and among the future founders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Mohammad Borujerdi, member of the Tohidi Saf group, a Moslem guerilla group close to Ayatollah Khomeini. According to Emadeddin Baqi, this Committee also had a number of secret police members siding with the people at its disposal. ****** (Oral History; Sahifeye Noor, Volume Five; Tasnim, January 23, 2020; The New York Times, January 29, 1979; Islamic Revolution Documents Center).

Arrest and detention

At 9:30 in the morning of March 15, 1979, Colonel Ferdosmakan went to his place of work, Tehran’s 24 Esfand [Gendarmerie] Base. At 11:30 AM of that same day, he made a call to his family to inform them that he was being taken to Qasr Prison. (Boroumand Center interview, June 3, 2019).

Colonel Ferdosmakan did not have access to an attorney during his detention.

Subsequent to his arrest, Colonel Ferdosmakan, who was being kept at Qasr Prison’s Ward 3, sent a message to his family on a piece of cigarette paper to take him some warm clothes since the window in his cell was broken. Colonel Ferdosmakan’s wife made great efforts for an entire month [in order to visit with him]. With [the help of] a cleric in the city of Qom that they had come to know when Colonel Ferdosmakan was serving there, she was able to visit with him three times. The first visitation took place one month after his arrest, and the last one, two days before the implementation of his sentence, when Colonel Ferdosmakan expected to be released soon. Colonel Ferdosmakan had expressed concern about his family’s livelihood and for his children’s education. But he did not want his children to see the man who had served his country for 31 years, in prison. He attended visitation dressed neatly and in his military uniform. (Boroumand Center interview, June 7, 2020).

Colonel Ferdosmakan did not have access to an attorney during his detention.


On May 7, 1979, Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch Three heard Colonel Ferdosmakan’s case and that of several other former officials in a mass trial. (Kayhan newspaper, May 8, 1979; Boroumand Center interview, June 8, 2019). Colonel Ferdosmakan was deprived of an attorney at trial.

There is no information regarding the length of the trial; available sources indicate, however, that 21 individuals were tried in Branch Two and Branch Three, and that the hearing held for 9 of these persons in one of the branches took only 4 hours. (Kayhan and Ayandegan newspapers, May 8, 1979).


The charges brought against Colonel Ferdosmakan in the indictment were stated to have been “issuing an order to the personnel under his command to fire on the people, direct participation in the mass murder of innocent Moslem people in the former 24 Esfand Square on January 28, 1979, and clamping down on the demonstrators”. (Kayhan and Ayandegan newspapers, May 8, 1979).

The indictment issued against Colonel Ferdosmakan alleges that after the collision of a Gendarmerie bus with the demonstrators and the start of clashes between demonstrators and military personnel, upon the order of another defendant in the case, “all Gendarmerie forces” present at the Headquarters had gotten involved in the clashes and had fired on the people. The indictment also alleges that more than 100 people were killed and around 400 were injured in these clashes. (Kayhan newspaper, May 8, 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.  

Evidence of guilt

The evidence against Colonel Ferdosmakan contained in the indictment consisted of “the Defendant’s admission to being present on the scene of the operations;” official Gendarmerie reports regarding the operations, including “the January 30, report describing the events and the amount of ammunitions used by the personnel under [his] command, including 21 counts of tear gas [canisters] and 2,365 bullets [for] G3 battle rifles and Colt;” “Captain Firuzi and Sergeant Major Qodratollah Naqibi’s report on the shootings and the amount of spent ammunition;” “Major Sohrabi’s statements as to cautioning Colonel Ferdosmakan to prevent the shootings and not to fire himself;” “Major Sohrabi’s statements as to Colonel Ferdosmakan firing with Uzi and ;G3 weapons,” “interrogating an eyewitness [who stated] that the demonstrators were throwing rocks at Colonel Ferdosmakan and that he was firing on them with an Uzi machine gun;” and [the rumor] that has gone around about “firing on the people was on the orders of the Base Commander”. (Kayhan newspaper, May 8, 1979).

The indictment does not contain the original copy of the reports. Furthermore, it is not clear whether all the ammunition was used by the Gendarmerie or whether other organs such as the forces dispatched to the scene by the Martial Law Command to protect the Gendarmerie had made use of them as well.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.


Colonel Ferdosmakan denied all the charges brought against him at trial. According to the Kayhan newspaper report, he alluded to the events of January 28, and presented his defense: “I initially said to the Investigative Judge that I was inside the Headquarters at the time the events started and was not aware of what was going on outside. Everyone under at the Command bears witness that we suddenly heard shots. Since I was in charge, I went downstairs and saw that the Pasdars (the revolutionary armed militia) were firing on the people, and a number of my superior officers also witnessed that scene. Then the Headquarters were set on fire and the soldiers proceeded to fire warning shots in the air, and I was there. But it is an absolute lie that they have accused me of firing on the people. The order to fire was issued by other people, and generally speaking, since security orders are issued beforehand and it is clear who has what duty, I essentially did not have the authority to issue an order to shoot. I swear on my honor and my conscience that my statements are the absolute truth.” (Kayhan newspaper, May 8, 1979).

Colonel Ferdosmakan denied all the charges brought against him at trial: "it is an absolute lie that they have accused me of firing on the people, I essentially did not have the authority to issue an order to shoot".

Colonel Ferdosmakan further denied and dismissed the statements of Captain Firuzi, whose name was mentioned as a witness in several parts of the indictments without specifying the content of his testimony. A retired Gendarmerie colonel who knew Colonel Ferdosmakan told the Boroumand Center that the Colonel was very popular in the Gendarmerie, and that only one of the “24 Esfand Gendarmerie Base” personnel had responded to the Prosecutor’s Office to lodge a complaint against him and had agreed to testify against him. This [retired colonel] described this person’s testimony as “malicious and begrudging” and stated that the charges against Colonel Ferdosmakan were baseless. According to him, “the Gendarmerie’s issue weapon was not a machine gun. This organ only had G3 rifles, and they were to defend the Headquarters building. The rooftop of the 24 Esfand Gendarmerie Base had no room for soldiers to take position and the Headquarters’ officers did not have the authority to leave the building and confront the demonstrators in the street.” This former Gendarmerie officer believed that as Base Commander, Colonel Ferdosmakan could at most have issued an order to open fire, but he did not believe that he would have fired directly himself. Colonel Ferdosmakan had also complained to God about those who had “shamelessly” given “false testimony” against him. (Kayhan newspaper, May 8, 1979; Boroumand Center interview, June 8, 2019, and February 8, 2021).

The reports issued by the Gendarmerie and the Martial Law Command of Tehran and Suburbs after the events of January 28, 1979, do not correspond to the Prosecutor’s Office’s account of those events either. In an announcement published in newspapers on January 31, 1979, regarding the events, the Gendarmerie explained: “Generally speaking, the Gendarmerie Headquarters was not a battle unit, and as can be ascertained from its name, it was a headquarters the purpose of which was coordination and supervision of units spread all across the country … Therefore, the Headquarters are protected by a handful of guards who have limited ammunition in their possession. How, then, is it possible to accuse the individuals guarding these Headquarters, of killing or wounding an unimaginable number of people … Plainclothes shooters have opened fire [on the people] from rooftops and the press have said that these individuals were Gendarmerie personnel. Why would the Gendarmerie personnel feel the necessity of defending their home and headquarters without their military uniforms? Those actors were surely a bunch of saboteurs who occupied the adjacent buildings and completed their so-called process of surrounding [the Headquarters]. Unfortunately, the opinions and accounts of the press were not based on facts and were rather [one-sided and] drafted just to please the readers.” The Governor’s Office had also emphasized that the shootings and clashes between military forces and the people occurred after “a large number of saboteurs, some of whom were armed, attacked the personnel guarding the country’s Gendarmerie Headquarters building from rooftops and buildings adjacent to 24 Esfand Square, and intended to set fire to the building.” (Ettela’at newspaper, January 31, 1979; Oral History).

A Brief Summary of the Legal Defects in the adjudication of Mr. Hossein Ferdosmakan’s case

After the 1979 Revolution, the judicial system went into disarray and clerics who supported the newly installed regime, came into the system in the form of Shari’a judges. It was these clerics who issued the sentences in the majority of political and security-related cases. The impartiality and independence of these Shari’a judges was highly in doubt. These judges entered the judicial system outside the framework of established norms, and without their knowledge, merit, and competence being tested and evaluated. The validity of their rulings is highly questionable. The majority of the defendants were not allowed to be represented by an attorney, and trials took place very quickly and without any investigations. What we see in the present case is that the events that led to Mr. Ferdosmakan’s conviction occurred in January 1979, at a time when the laws of the Pahlavi era were still in force. In spite of that fact, the trial took place in the Revolutionary Court and none of the substantive and procedural rules and norms in place were respected. The trial took place without due process and with utter disregard for the rules of procedure, solely based on the rules of Shari’a. This is the biggest flaw and defect in this and in other similar cases, since all of these trials were conducted outside the framework of legal and judicial principles, hastily and in a summary fashion. Naturally, from a legal standpoint, the outcomes of such proceedings are invalid regardless of what they are. Furthermore, what can be said about Mr. Ferdosmakan’s conviction for the crime of Moharebeh (“waging war against God”) is that it was flawed (taking into account published information) even from a Shari’a standpoint, because Moharebeh occurs when an individual, using weapons, creates fear and apprehension in society. In this case, no expert investigation was conducted into whether the bullets that was fired on the dead and wounded belonged to the Gendarmerie [and were fired from their weapons]. And in all probability, witnesses who could have testified on Mr. Ferdosmakan’s behalf were not summoned by the court. Furthermore, no investigations were conducted into who initially began to fire, because if it turned out that the demonstrators were the ones who had engaged in rioting and firing weapons, then according to the relevant regulations, the military personnel had the right to fire back. In other words, the matter should have been examined within the framework of military crimes, taking into consideration the opinions of military experts regarding the use of weapons.


On May 7, 1979, a few hours after the trial, Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch Three found Colonel Hossein Ferdosmakan guilty as “Mohareb with God and the Imam’s Deputy (“one who wages war with God and the Twelveth Shi’a Imam’s Deputy on Earth” during his absence, i.e., the religious ruler of Islamic society, in this case Ayatollah Khomeini), and Mofsed fel-Arz (“one who spreads corruption on Earth”)” and sentenced him to death.

Colonel Ferdosmakan did not own any real estate and therefore, there was no question of expropriation of property in his case; nevertheless, Prosecutor’s Office officials ordered that the possible blocking of his bank account be lifted, and emphasized that no ruling was issued as to expropriation of property in Colonel Ferdosmakan’s case. (Boroumand Center interview, June 8, 2019).

Colonel Hossein Ferdosmakan and 20 other individuals were shot by a firing squad at 5 o’clock in the morning of May 8, 1979, in Qasr Prison. He was deprived of a final visitation with his family.

Colonel Ferdosmakan’s family heard the news of the implementation of his death sentence on the radio. (Boroumand Center interview, June 8, 2019).

Colonel Ferdosmakan has left a will.

Colonel Ferdosmakan’s family buried him in the city of Qaemshahr in Mazandaran Province. A very large number of the townspeople participated in his funeral services and paid their respects. (Boroumand Center interview, June 8, 2019; electronic form submission, May 27, 2019).


* Imam Khomeini Portal, “Sahifeye Noor”, Volume Five (last visited in January-February 2021), The New York Times (January 27, 28, and 29, 1979), Shahpur Bakhtiar’s press conference on January 29, 1979, published by The Associated Press (January 31, 1979), The Associated Press (January 28, and 29, 1979), Oral History (last visited in January-February 2021), Javanan-e Emrooz (February 5, 1979), Tasnim News Agency (January 23, 2020) and the Islamic Revolution Documents Center (last visited in January-February 2021).
** In a message to the “People of Iran” delivered on January 12, 1979, the Ayatollah talked about the possibility of a coup d’état by the military and said: “It is incumbent on the courageous people of Iran to equip themselves in any way they possibly can to confront such a conspiracy … If the mob [of cronies] and the corrupt attack them, they may defend themselves even if the end result is killing them.”
*** Shapur Bakhtiar, emphasizing change through the use of legal means, had stated that he would not “surrender to force, mayhem, and adventurism”. According to reports by certain media, the demonstrators’ conduct in the days before the return of Ayatollah Khomeini to Iran had become more violent.
**** In a press conference on January 29, 1979, Shapour Bakhtiar stressed that he had not issued the order to fire on the demonstrators and stated: “When armed individuals attack the police headquarters, the Gendarmerie and the Armed Forces have a right to defend themselves. No country will tolerate its Gendarmerie being surrounded and its armed forces being attacked.” (Ettela’at, January 29, 1979; The Associated Press, January 31, 1979).
***** Other reports have mainly alluded to noon on January 28, 1979. Ettela’at newspaper reported that a number of plainclothes individuals had attacked Gendarmerie buses from inside the Gendarmerie building, and that subsequently, the military had fired on people from the rooftop of the Gendarmerie building. Kayhan newspaper attributed the occurrence of the events to the collision of “a military bus” travelling at high speed with the demonstrators, angering the latter, and resulting in clashes and the Gendarmerie opening fire.
****** According to available reports, various slogans such as “Woe unto you Bakhtiar, if Khomeini gets here late”, “If Khomeini gets here late, machine guns will come out”, “leaders, arm us”, and “People, get armed” were chanted.  Some reports contain news of the sale of materials for making [makeshift] flammable products to the demonstrators on the [sidewalks] of Shahreza Avenue. The January 28, 1979, clashes continued until dusk that day in various locations in the city of Tehran. Official reports have alluded to fewer than 20 dead and approximately 160 wounded, while media reports have stated the numbers to be 30 dead and 300 wounded, citing hospital and Medical Examiner’s reports. On January 29, 1979, based on the information from the late hours of the previous night, Ayandegan newspaper reported that doctors had announced that the number of the dead and wounded in the previous day’s clashes in Tehran’s 24 Esfand Square were as follows: Dariush Hospital: 2 dead, 19 wounded; Firuzgar Hospital: 3 dead, 13 wounded; Farabi Hospital: 4 dead, 1 wounded; and Hezar-Takhtekhabi Hospital: 14 dead, 71 wounded.

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