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

Abbas Ra'isi

About

Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: August 31, 1988
Location: Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Apostasy; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech

About this Case

Mr. Abbas Ra’isi is one of the victims of the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The majority of the executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. Other victims included members or sympathizers of Marxist-Leninist organizations, such as the Fedaiyan Khalq (Minority) and the Peykar Organization, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and the Fedaiyan Khalq (Majority), which did not. Information about the mass executions has been gathered by the Boroumand Foundation from the memoir of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with victims’ families, and witnesses’ memoirs.

Information regarding Mr. Ra’isi’s execution was provided to Omid via an electronic form and an interview conducted on May 14, 2006 with one of his relatives, and the prison memoirs entitled What Happened to Us in 1988 by Nima Parvaresh, copyright 1994, Paris, published by the Committee to Organize the Memorial of the Massacre of Political Prisoners. Mr. Ra’isi, born in Borazjan (Bushehr province), was a member of the Peykar Organization. He was a law student at Tehran’s National University. He was sentenced to 3 to 4 years in prison. At the end of his prison terms, authorities did not release him because he refused to give a television confession, during which he would recant his political faith. His brother, an MKO member, was also executed him in Borazjan.

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 “Social 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

There is no specific information on the defendant’s arrest and detention. Mr. Ra’isi was arrested in the afternoon in October 1981, in Tehran. He was detained at Qezelhesar, Evin and Gohardasht prisons. 

He was allowed visitation with his mother and brother 4-5 months after his arrest and received the packages that they brought for him. He was also allowed to send one card each New Year and letters, which were 7 lines long. During the visitations, Mr. Ra’isi told his family that he would not be released unless he agreed to give a televised confession and read a statement recanting his political beliefs. For his refusal of these demands, Mr. Ra’isi was relocated to the “melli kesh” section of the prison (a section for political prisoners who refused such confessions) and denied the right to further communicate with his family via letters. He was detained for 6 years before being executed.

Trial

According to the form, Mr. Ra’isi was tried for a second time in late August or early September 1988. He was reportedly asked about his religious beliefs and had declared that he was “a Marxist and not a Muslim.” Based on his cellmate’s prison memoir, Mr. Ra’isi and his cellmates had heard prior to his execution that whoever defends his ideology would be executed. They knew it because political prisoners in the section next to theirs were being tried and those who did not repent were executed. Mr. Ra’isi and his cellmates had a debate about the appropriate response if they were to be questioned about their political beliefs and he decided that he had to defend his ideology. He argued that: “my ideology is my identity. If I deny it, I deny myself. If I repent, I would be ashamed to return to my hometown where my brother was killed.”

According to existing information, there was no official trial with the presence of an attorney and prosecutor. Those who were executed in 1988 were sent to a three-man committee consisting of a religious judge, a representative from the Intelligence Ministry, and a Public Prosecutor of Tehran. This committee asked the leftist prisoners some questions about their beliefs and whether or not they believed in God.

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 when they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

No charge has been publicly leveled against the victims of the 1988 mass executions. 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 members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization 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 Khalq Organization, may have been accused of being “anti-religion” for not having renounced his or her beliefs.

Evidence of guilt

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

Defense

In their open letter, the families of the prisoners noted 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 prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone from behind the 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.”

Judgment

No sentence was issued publicly. Mr. Ra’isi was sentenced to be executed on the day of his trial. He was executed at Gohardasht Prison and buried by the authorities at the Khavaran Cemetery. 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 in the victims’ belongings to their families. Authorities warned the families of prisoners against holding memorial ceremonies.

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