Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Seifollah Ghiasvand

About

Age: 36
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: September, 1988
Location of Killing: Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Apostasy

About this Case

Mr. Seifollah Ghiasvand is one of the victims of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. The majority of the executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO). In addition to members of those Marxist-Leninist organizations opposed to the Islamic Republic, activists of organizations that were not against the Islamic Republic were also among the victims of these mass killings.

Mr. Seifollah Ghiasvand’s name is also mentioned as one of 1000 people identified in a UN Human Rights Commission's Special Representative's Report, "Names and particulars of persons allegedly executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran during the period July-December 1988," published January 26, 1989. The report specifies that although 1000 names are mentioned, "in all probability" there were several thousand victims. "Most of the alleged victims were members of the Mojahedin. However, members of the Tudeh Party, People's Fedaiyan Organization, Rahe Kargar, and Komala Organization and 11 mollahs were also said to be among the alleged victims."

Additional information about Mr. Seifollah Ghiasvand is taken from the book The Tudeh Martyrs by The Tudeh Party of Iran Publications. He was born in Nahavand, Gilan province. He was a physician and a First Lieutenant in the Army. After the revolution, when he was the commander of the hospital battalion of the Armored Brigade 92 in Ahvaz, he joined the Tudeh Party.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh Party ideology was Marxist-Leninist and it supported the former Soviet Union's policies. The Party played a major role in Iran's political scene until it was banned for the second time following the August 19, 1953 coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Party declared Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic regime revolutionaries and anti-imperialists and actively supported the new government. Although the Party never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of government attacks in 1982 when most of the Party's leaders and members were imprisoned.

Arrest and detention

The circumstances of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known. Mr. Seifollah Ghiasvand was arrested in his office in Tehran in May, 1983. His was imprisoned in Qezelhesar, Komiteh Moshtarak, and Gohardasht prisons. According to the above source, his hand was broken in three places as a result of severe torture including being lashed with cable, contortion, and suspension in the air.

Contortion is a method of handcuffing. One hand is placed over the shoulder and cuffed with the other hand. The pressure may be so much as to break the shoulder blades. For more painful effects, the body is may be suspended in the air.

Trial

Mr. Seifollah Ghiasvand was tried and condemned to life imprisonment. There is no information about the trial. There is no specific information about any such trials that condemned thousands of political prisoners to death in a few months period. According to the available information, the Iranian authorities did not try the victims of the 1988 mass execution in a court with in the presence of a defense lawyer. The prisoners who were executed in 1988 had been questioned by a three-member special committee, composed of a religious judge, a representative of the Intelligence Ministry, and the Tehran Prosecutor. The committee questioned the leftist prisoners about their beliefs and their faith in God and religion.

The relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refute the legality of the judicial process that resulted in thousands of executions throughout Iran. In their 1988 open letter to then- Minister of Justice Dr. Habibi, they argue that the official secrecy surrounding these executions is proof of their illegality. They note that an overwhelming majority of these prisoners had been tried and sentenced to prison terms, which they were either serving or had already completed serving at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

No charge has been publicly levelled against the defendant. In their letters to the Minister of Justice (1988), and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran (February 2003), the families of the victims refer to the authorities' accusations against the prisoners – accusations that may have led to their execution. These accusations include being "counter-revolutionary, anti-religion, and anti-Islam," as well as being "associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders."

An edict of the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, reproduced in the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, his designated successor, corroborates the reported claims regarding the charges against the executed prisoners. In this edict, Ayatollah Khomeini refers to the PMOI's members as "hypocrites" who do not believe in Islam and "wage war against God" and decrees that prisoners who still approve of the positions taken by this organization are also "waging war against God" and should be sentenced to death.

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution contains no evidence provided against the defendant.

Defense

In their open letter, the families of the prisoners note that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. Against the assertion that prisoners were associated with guerrilla forces operating near the borders, the families submit the isolation of their relatives from the outside during their detention: "Our children lived in most difficult conditions. Visits were limited to 10 minutes behind a glass divider through a telephone every two weeks. We witnessed, over the past seven years, that they were denied access to anything that would have allowed them to establish contacts outside their prisons' walls." Under such conditions the families reject the claim of the authorities that these prisoners were able to engage with the political groups outside Iran.

It is possible that the prisoners who were members of other organizations were charged for being "anti religious" and were condemned for insisting on their beliefs.

Judgment

No specific information is available about the defendant’s execution. Mr. Seifollah Ghiasvand was hanged during the mass killings of political prisoners in Ghohardasht Prison in September, 1988.

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