Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Mojtaba Qadiani


Age: 25
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single


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

About this Case

The information about Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani is based on an interview with his brother. His name is also mentioned 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.

He was a sympathizer of the Peykar Organization and a victim of the 1988-89 mass executions of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many of the executed prisoners were members or sympathizers of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO). However, members or supporters of Marxist Leninist organizations, such as the People’s Fadaiyan of Iran (Minority) or Peykar, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and Fadaiyan Khalq (Majority), which did not oppose the regime, were among the victims. Complementary information has been gathered from the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with family members, and memoirs of witnesses, all provided to the Boroumand Foundation.

Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani was born in Tehran in 1963. He was a student and was active in the distribution of Peykar publications through the student sympathizers of Peykar known as the Daldal Organization. Before his arrest, he worked in his uncle’s knitting workshop, where he spent the nights.

The Peykar Organization for the Liberation of the Working Class was founded by a number of dissident members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization who had converted to Marxism-Leninism. Peykar was also joined by a number of political organizations, known as Khat-e Se (Third line). The founding tenets of Peykar included the rejection of guerrilla struggle and a strong stand against the pro-Soviet policies of the Iranian Tudeh Party. Peykar viewed the Soviet Union as a “Socialist imperialist” state, believed that China had deviated from the Marxist-Leninist principles, and radically opposed all factions of the Islamic regime of Iran. The brutal repression of dissidents by the Iranian government and splits within Peykar in 1981 and 1982 effectively dismantled the organization and scattered its supporters. By the mid-1980s, Peykar was no longer in existence.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani was arrested by plain clothes agents in his uncle’s knitting workshop in the summer of 1982. The agents did not show any arrest warrant, telling his uncle that it was not a serious issue and they just wanted to ask Mr. Qadiani a few questions.

His detention locations were Qezelhesar, Gohardasht, and Evin. According to his brother, Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani was denied the right to have an attorney and had no access to his file. At Qezelhesar prison, he had some visitations with his mother, but had no visitation at Gohardasht prison and had only one visitation every three months at Evin. His brother added: “I was a child at the time and went with my mother to visit him several times. The visitation period was about 15 minutes.” He referred to the interrogation methods as, “twice they broke his right hand. A few times, his chest area was bandaged. According to my mother and what I saw myself, his hand was always in a sling around his neck and his chest was bandaged at Evin.”


According to his brother, Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani was tried and condemned to ten years imprisonment. Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani and thousands of other individuals in 1988 are not known. According to available information, the Iranian authorities did not try the victims of the 1988 mass execution in a court with the presence of a defense lawyer. The prisoners 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 at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.


No charge has been publicly leveled 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, Ayatollah 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 MKO 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.

Defendants, who did not belong to the Mojahedin Organization, may have been accused of being “anti-religion” for not having renounced their beliefs.

Evidence of guilt

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


No information is available on Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani’s defense. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners note that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The same letter, rebutting the accusation that these prisoners (from inside the prison) had collaborated with armed members of the Mojahedin Organization in clashes with armed forces of the Islamic Republic, states that such claims “are false considering the circumstances in prisons; for our children faced most difficult conditions [in the prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone from behind a glass window, and were deprived of any connection with the outside world. We faced such conditions for seven years, which proves the truth of our claim.”


Details regarding the execution sentence are not available. According to available information, leftist prisoners executed in 1988 were found to be “apostates.” Months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed the victims’ belongings to their families. The bodies, however, were not returned to them. The bodies were buried in mass graves. Authorities warned the families of prisoners against holding memorial ceremonies.

According to Mr. Mojtaba Qadiani’s brother, “On December 7, 1988, the prison officials called our house and set up a meeting with my older brother near Evin prison at Parkway expressway. It was over five months since we had any visitation and my family were very worried. From the meeting place they took me and my brother blindfolded to Evin prison. A thick-bearded interrogator said, ‘We are facing a bunch of crazy people! We lost our patience and could not do anything but to execute them. Keeping them was useless! He persisted to convince my brother not to say anything about the executions in his class. They gave us Mojtaba’s belongings and told us not to have any funeral ceremony. They did not even inform us about his burial location.”

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