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

Manuchehr Sarhadi

About

Age: 41
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: September, 1988
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech

About this Case

Information about Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi has been drawn from an electronic form sent to the Boroumand Foundation by a person familiar with this case, an interview with his ex-employer who had been his cellmate for two years, and the website of the Union of People’s Fadaiyan of Iran (UPFI). Mr. Sarhadi, affiliated with the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, was a victim of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. The Boroumand Foundation has collected additional information regarding the 1988 massacre from the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri; reports from human rights organizations; interviews with the witnesses and victims’ families; as well as from the Bidaran website.

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 Fadaiyan Khalq (Minority) and the Peykar Organization, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and the Fadaiyan Khalq (Majority), which did not.

Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi was born in Tehran in 1947. He was an architecture student in Tehran University. He was married and had a daughter. He started his political activism in 1968 and joined the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization in 1970. He was arrested and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment in 1976. He was released, along with many other political prisoners after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and he resumed his political activities. During the splits of his organization, he joined the Sixteen Azar faction. He worked as a construction manager for an engineering consultancy in Zahedan. He created the logo of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization. According to his cellmate, he was a nice human being and an artist. He used old newspapers to create shelves in prison cells strong enough for prisoners’ belongings. This helped prisoners a lot, considering the limited space they had. He drew beautiful drawings and paintings. Many prisoners’ handcrafts were created in his drawings.

The Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, a Marxist-Leninist group inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the urban guerilla movements of Latin America, was founded in 1971 by two communist groups opposed to the Pahlavi regime.  Following the 1979 Revolution, the FKO, which had renounced armed struggle, split over its support for the Islamic Republic and of the Soviet Union. The Fadaiyan Khalq Majority considered the Islamic Republic to be a revolutionary and anti-imperialist regime and supported it. After the spring of 1983, however, the Islamic Republic targeted its members solely because of their political beliefs. The Keshtgar faction (also known as the Sixteen Azar faction) split from the Majority branch on December 7, 1981, due to its opposition to uniting with the Tudeh Party.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi was arrested at the entrance to the Karaj Highway in July of 1983. He had been exposed by an ex-comrade who cooperated with the Islamic Regime. He was detained at Section 3000, 209, and Asayeshgah at the Evin prison. Mr. Sarhadi was tortured so severely that his feet distorted because of lashes, and their marks were evident after years. He had a lot of information but did not cooperate with interrogators. He attempted to commit suicide twice. Once he found a piece of wood and hit his head so many times that his skin was gone and his skull was broken. As a result, his injury never healed, and no hair was grown on top of his head.   

Trial

Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi was tried and condemned to life imprisonment in Tehran in 1987. Specific details about the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Sarhadi are unknown. According to the testimonies of leftist political prisoners who were tried in Gohardasht and Evin Prisons during the executions of the summer of 1988, the trials took place in a room on the ground floor of the prison after a few weeks of isolation during which prisoners were deprived of visitation, television and radio broadcasts, and outdoor time. Toward the end of August, a three-member delegation composed of Hojatoleslam Eshraqi, the prosecutor; Hojatoleslam Nayyeri, the religious judge; and Hojatoleslam Purmohammadi, the representative of the Ministry of Information. They asked prisoners questions about whether they were Muslim or Marxist, whether they prayed, and if their parents were practicing Muslims. Based on the prisoners’ responses, the latter were sentenced to be hanged or flogged until they agreed to pray. The authorities never informed prisoners about the delegation’s purpose, nor the serious implications of their responses. According to survivors, during the summer of 1988 a large number of prisoners sympathizing with the Mojahedin or Leftist groups were executed for not recanting their beliefs. 

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 the Minister of Justice, at the time, 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 when they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

No charge has been publicly stated against the victims of the 1988 mass executions.  Based on the testimonies of the inmates who were in prisons in the summer of 1988, the questions of the three-member committee from the leftist prisoners were about their beliefs, and they were accused of being “anti-religion,” insisting on their beliefs and not repenting. In their letters to the Minister of Justice in 1988, and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran in 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 who “wage war against God” and who 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 does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi.

Defense

No information is available on Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi’s defense before the three-member committee.

Judgment

Mr. Manuchehr Sarhadi was executed during the mass killings of political prisoners in Evin Prison on August 29, 1988. Based on the Boroumand Foundation’s research, leftist prisoners executed in 1988 were found to be “apostates.” Months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed over 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 not to hold memorial ceremonies for their loved ones.

In a letter to his mother (taken from the Bidaran website), Mr. Sarhadi wrote, “Since your last visit, I’m thinking about you all the time, about the tears in your eyes. Although it’s painful for us to be apart, it shouldn’t prevent us from appreciating life. Mother, wasn’t it you who always cooked good food and invited everyone to gather together for the Chelleh Night [celebration of the longest night of the year during winter solstice]? Why not this year? Even if I am far from you and you feel sad, shouldn’t the kids still experience this night with staying up and enjoying watermelon, and pomegranate, and other good food? Shouldn’t their faces and lips, reddened with pomegranate juice, be graced with laughter? I ask you to remain full of life, and be the one who brings joy to others’ lives, as you always have.”

In another letter, to his wife, he wrote, “My dear wife, I will be 40 this coming February. I don’t know when we will be together again. I always think of you, your kindness, your pains, and our daughter, with all her freshness, warmth, and childish loneliness.” And for his daughter, he wrote, “Can you tell me what color is fall? I say: yellow, orange, and red, with a full blue sky and full white clouds, all shining under the sun. … Help your mother to recover sooner. Then, kiss her for me and walk together on those streets where I love walking, on fallen leaves and enjoy on behalf of me. Say hello to everyone. Love you, my good daughter.”   

Correct/ Complete This Entry