Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Behzad Omrani


Age: 24
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single


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

About this Case

Mr. Behzad Omrani, a sympathizer of the Fedaiyan Khalq (Minority), 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 Fadaiyian 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 Fadaiyian Khalq Minority opposed the Islamic Republic and was active mainly in the political arena and the labor movement.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Behzad Omrani was arrested during an armed demonstration organized by the Mojahedin Khalq on September 27, 1981. The circumstances of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known.

Following the repression of the demonstration of June 20, 1981, which protested the parliament’s impeachment of President Banisadr and the Islamic Republic’s systematic policy of excluding the Mojahedin Khalq Organization from the country’s political scene, and the mass executions that followed the demonstration, the MKO turned to armed opposition to the regime of the Islamic Republic. The MKO sought to organize demonstrations in order to attract public support and overthrow the regime. The demonstration of September 27, 1981, was such an event in which many of the MKO sympathizers were arrested. According to official newspapers, the demonstration resulted in the death of several Revolutionary Guards, supporters of the MKO, as well as some bystanders. Two days later, the Kayhan newspaper announced the execution of 54 demonstrators.


During his first trial, Mr. Omrani was condemned to 8 years imprisonment. One year before his sentence was complete, he was executed in 1988. There is no specific information about the circumstances of the trials that condemned this defendant and thousands of other political prisoners to death within a few months period. 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 from 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.


No information is available on Mr. Omrani’s 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, 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 Mojahedin Khalq Organization’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.

It is possible that the prisoners who were members of organizations other than the Mojahedin Khalq were charged with being “anti-religious” and were condemned for insisting on 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 about the defendant’s defence. 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 guerrillas 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 during 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.


No specific information is available about the defendant’s execution. In November of 1988 officials informed the family of Mr. Behzad Omrani of his execution in Tehran. There is no information about the exact date of this execution. According to the existing information, those leftist prisoners who were executed in 1988 were considered apostate (Mortad). Generally, the officials informed the families a few months later when they gave them their belongings. They did not let families have the bodies which were buried in mass graves. Officials warned the families to avoid any mourning ceremonies.

Correct/ Complete This Entry