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

Behruz Yusefpur Lazarjani

About

Age: 35
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

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

About this Case

Mr. Behruz Yusefpur Lazarjani, one of the members of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (Majority), was a victim of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. 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. The information about Mr. Yusefpur Lazarjani has been drawn from an interview with an individual familiar with this case. His name is also mentioned in the book Those who said no, listing the victims of the 1988 massacre, published by the Paris-based Association for the Defense of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience in Iran.

Mr. Behruz Yusefpur Lazarjani was born in 1953 in Lazarjan near Kolachai (Gilan province). At the time of arrest, he was married and had a son. He was an active man despite his slight mibility impairment. He was a teacher who had been „purged“ and dismissed from his work place.

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 Organization, which had renounced armed struggle, split over their support of the Islamic Republic and of the Soviet Union. The Fadaiyan Khalq Majority considered the Islamic Republic as 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.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Yusefpur Lazarjani was arrested in Tehran in July/August 1986. No other information is available about his arrest and detention.

Trial

Mr. Yusefpur Lazarjani was tried and condemned to 1.5 years imprisonment. He served his prison sentence but was not released after its completion.

Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Yusefpur Lazarjani and thousands of other individuals in 1988 are not known. 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 Organization named by the leader of the Islamic Republic, 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

No information is available on Mr. Yusefpur Lazarjani’s 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

Mr. Behruz Yusefpur Lazarjani was executed in Tehran in the summer of 1988 (August or September). In December 1988 or January 89, the authorities informed his family of the execution and returned his belongings to the family. However, his family was not informed of the place of internment; they believe that he is buried in mass graves of Khavaran cemetery, along with other victims of the prison massacres.

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