Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Fatemeh Zare'i


Age: 38
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: August, 1988
Location of Killing: Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Unspecified counter-revolutionary offense; Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups; Printing/distributing leaflets; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech

About this Case

Information regarding Ms. Fatemeh Zare’i’s case was drawn from the following: the memoir of her father, Mr. Aziz Zare’i (Cahier d’Aziz, Gallimard, 2011); an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) with her husband, Mr. Hasan Makaremi (2 April 2009); ABF correspondence with her daughter (16 May 2012); Jomhuri Eslami Newspaper (1 July 1981) and the Hambastegi Melli Website (2 August 2010). Additional information was collected from an interview by ABF with an eye-witness imprisoned with Ms. Zare’i and Adel Abad: Everlasting Agony by Mr. Jahangir Esma’ilpur.

Ms. Zare’i is one of the victims of the 1988 killings of political prisoners in Iran. The majority of these executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO). Other victims included members or sympathizers of Marxist-Leninist organizations including 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.

Ms. Zare’i was born in 1953 in Abadeh, a small town in Fars Province in the central part of Iran. She was a physics teacher at the former Reza Shah High School in Shiraz, the capital of Fars Province. She was married in 1974. At the time of her arrest, she had two children, one of whom was 4 and the other a couple of months old (ABF interview, Hambastegi Melli Website).

According to her husband, Ms. Zare’i was politically active before the revolution in Tehran and used to attend the classes of Mr. Shari’ati—a modern religious figure whose ideas founded the basis of the Islamic Revolution. After the 1979 Revolution, she joined the Teachers’ Movement, which was affiliated with the MKO. The functions of this movement were distributing declarations and leaflets. Additionally, its meetings were concerned with these and other issues such as recruiting new members. Ms. Zare’i’s involvement included organizing demonstrations. In 1980 during the Cultural Revolution (1), she received a letter from her employer informing her that she was fired without the possibility of compensation because of what was determined, “non-compliance with the principals of the Islamic Republic” (ABF Interview).

According to her husband, Ms. Zare’i did not believe in armed struggle; taking arms required a disposition she did not have. In 1981, she announced her candidacy for the first Majles (Parliament) elections, representing the MKO. Her husband explained that because she was well-known for to her political activities in Shiraz, it caused numerous problems for her and her family. For example, a group of unknown individuals once broke the windows of their house. Ms. Zare’i decided her safety was in jeopardy. Three months prior to her arrest, Fatemeh Zare’i had not been sleeping at her house fearing the authorities could take her any day. Her family suggested leaving Shiraz, but she did not accept (ABF Interview).

Her cellmates remembered her as a very strong woman who used to console other prisoners (ABF interview). Ms. Zare’i’s father remembers her as a good and wise person to seek advice. She always meant well. To her family, she was a problem solver and held the family together (Cahier d’Aziz).

It is noteworthy that Ms. Zare’i’s sister, Ms. Fattaneh Zare’i was executed in 1982 because of her cooperation in the MKO. Fattaneh was pregnant at the time of her execution.

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principals of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary, and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They accepted Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis of Iranian society but at the same time, considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and recruited new members based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and presence in governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda. During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, by either appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders (2).

Arrest and detention

Ms. Zare’i was arrested on 15 June 1981 in Shiraz. After dropping off her children at a relative’s place, she went shopping. On her way, she was arrested in the street by the Revolutionary Guards. A student of Fatemeh’s, who was present in the Revolutionary Guards’ vehicle, had identified her. Ms. Zare’i begged the Guards to allow her to leave the children with someone but they did not accept. Her husband had to escape immediately after her arrest. Since one of Ms. Zare’i’s children was breastfeeding, her family went to the Prosecutor to find a way for Ms. Zare’i to feed the child. The family was told by the prosecutor to let the child die because—as a child of a hypocrite—her life was worth less than that of an animal. Even the offspring of MKO members were treated as enemies (Cahier d’Aziz, pages 5-6).

After her arrest, the Revolutionary Guards stormed and occupied Ms. Zare’i’s house where she and her family lived with her parents. They broke all the locks and windows, destroyed their belongings, and trashed the house. Afterwards, the Revolutionary Guards allowed the Zare’i family to reside on one floor of their house, while the guards occupied the other (Cahier d’Aziz, page 5).

Fatemeh Zare’i spent 7 years in detention and imprisonment. She was transferred to Sepah Prison upon her arrest (Cahier d’Aziz, page 7) and then served her sentence in Adel Abad Prison and Sepah Prison in Shiraz, and a short term at Evin Prison in Tehran (Cahier d’Aziz). The pressures on the inmates in these three prisons were extreme in the ‘80s. Compared to the horrible conditions of Sepah Prison, Ms. Zare’i had once called Adel Abad Prison “heaven” (Cahier d’Aziz, page 19). Mr. Jahangir Esma’ilpur, who had been incarcerated in Sepah Prison for a while, in the early years 1980’s, confirms the prison’s the bad conditions. According to him, torture was very common in Sepah Prison. He used to see other detainees with wounded feet, caused by flogging with wire cables. They were flogged so much that the guards sometimes had to carry the prisoners—unable to walk or stand—with a cart and throw them into their cells (Adel Abad: Everlasting Agony , page 20). Moreover, the space allocated to each inmate was quite limited. For example, Mr. Esma’ilpur himself was in a 3-square-meter cell with three other detainees upon his arrest. There were strict limitations for taking showers, and the cell always smelled like the wound infections of tortured prisoners. During their detention time, they were allowed to wash dishes and use the restrooms three times a day for 5 minutes at a time (Adel Abad: Everlasting Agony , page 11).

One eye-witness, who was sentenced to two years of exile at Adel Abad Prison between 1981 and 1983, described a form of categorization within the prison: The prison had three floors; the “repenters” resided on one, and the other two floors were occupied by the “Sar Moze’is” or the prisoners that were steadfast in their political views and had refused to repent or cooperate with prison authorities (ABF interview with eye-witness). In addition, this categorization of inmates is also attested to by Mr. Esma’ilpur, who spent the years between 1982 and 1988 at the Men’s Ward at Adel Abad, “At the time, the prison officials and the repenters used to call the third floor, ‘the evil floor.’ From their point of view, any resistance from prisoners was considered evil. Baha’is were also kept on the third floor and were regarded as ‘dirty’ as the leftists. The second floor was allocated to the ‘passives’ and the first to the repenters…” (Adel Abad, Ever Lasting Agony, page 43). The Adel Abad Prison’s inmates were under extreme pressures to repent. The act of repentance played an important role in the relationships within the prison. The inmates who had repented under pressure were widely used in order to put further pressure on their fellow prisoners. Even the slight actions of the inmates were strictly surveilled and could be used in further interrogations and punishments. For example, Mr. Esma’ilpur said that one of his cellmates was punished because he did not properly wash himself after going to the restroom (Adel Abad: Everlasting Agony, page 46). Sometimes inmates were forbidden to speak or be spoken-to upon their arrival at the prison; they were monitored 24 hours a day to enforce this rule. This situation might have lasted for years for an inmate (Adel Abad: Everlasting Agony). Every night the repenters gathered to demonstrate in the Sar Moze’is’ section. They chose one inmate randomly, insulted her or beat her with flip-flops, etc. Prison food was also very bad. In addition, because the prison was extremely cold, diseases and disorders such as fungus or rheumatism were very common. And due to the over-population of the prison, the inmates had to sleep on the cold floor. Moreover, according to the eye-witness interviewed by ABF, political prisoners were forced to attend classes about Islamic ideology and interpretation of the Qur’an, and watch movies about the [Iran-Iraq] war or Islam. Classes were mandatory from 8:00 in the morning to noon; at noon, lunch was served to the prisoners; and prayers were said afterwards. Initially, the prisoners were just required to attend the classes; however, later the requirements became stricter. The repenters said that the prisoners were just sitting there and were not actually paying attention. Subsequently the repenters handed them an exam on the classes. After lunch they had a couple of hours to rest and afterwards either they had another similar plan or they had to watch an Islamic movie or they had to go to Hoseinieh [a form of chapel]. There was always a rozehkhani [A religious ceremony in which the preacher reminds the guests of a religious incident or person—normally a eulogy].

Ms. Zare’i spent some time in Ward 3000 of Evin Prison where she was under a lot of pressure. According to her father, a family member of another person who was in the same ward at the time told him that no one can have access to her in that ward, and that following up to know the status of a prisoner is futile. His only choice would be to wait for the prison officials to inform him if she was dead or alive (Cahier d’Aziz, page 46).

Ms. Zare’i was held incommunicado for long periods during her detention and had no connection to the outside world. Her transfer from one prison to another was always done without informing the family or even her. For example, in 1985 when she was transferred to Evin Prison, an unknown individual called her home on the 3rd of April and said that he had seen Ms. Zare’i blind-folded along with some Revolutionary Guards on a public bus on the road from Shiraz to Tehran. Ms. Zare’i had given him her home phone number and had begged him to call her family to inform them that she was being transferred and asked the family to follow up with the prosecutor’s office to find out where she was being transferred and why. The rest of the time, Ms. Zare’i was allowed visitation with her family once a week in a cabin and through a phone set and she was allowed to see her family in person once a year on the 11th of February, the anniversary on the Islamic Revolution (Cahier d’Aziz, ABF interview). At the time of the weekly visitations the guards brought her blindfolded, removed the blindfold in front of the family, and took her away blindfolded again after a few of minutes. During these visitations, a repenter would watch their conduct and listen to their conversations. The family could see that she was extremely scared of the guards. She sometimes asked her family to pay special respect to some of the guards (Cahier d’Aziz, page 20).

During her 7 years of detention, Ms. Zare’i was brutally tortured and her health completely deteriorated (Cahier d’Aziz). According to her husband, she “was suffering from a spine problem and a severe lack of vitamins. All of her hair had fallen out, and she had a type of skin disease” (ABF interview). Her father has stated that she suffered spinal damage for being held upside down for so long. Her left eardrum had been punctured as well as some of her teeth broken. Her hair had been pulled out from the root and she was burnt in several areas of her body; these are just examples of the results of the torture she endured (Cahier d’Aziz, page 29). Other forms of torture that were mentioned by Ms. Zare’i herself included flogging with wire cables, being submerged into extremely cold water, pouring boiling water on to sensitive parts of the body, fastening the neck and head with cable wire, electric shocks, pulling the hair out by hand, burning sensitive parts of the body with a cigarette, breaking of the teeth, Apolo (3) and hanging upside down for extended periods. The cases of torture are numerous in Ms. Zare’i’s father’s memoir.

On visitation day, 11 February 1985, Fatemeh Zare’i explained to her family one of the cases in which she had been put under extreme pressure to cooperate. According to the memoir, Ms. Zare’i was taken at 10:00 a.m. to a room with an ominous sign at the top of the door that read, “A place where the rooster lays eggs.” A “sister” helped Ms. Zare’i lie down onto a special bed. Her legs were then fastened at the knee with a device to the bed. Not knowing why she hadn’t fainted yet, she watched the scene as it played out. Finally, a headsman grabbed the wire cable with the purpose of flogging her, waiting for authorization from the religious judge. Once the approval was given, Ms. Zare’i was struck on the sole of the feet; as a result, her big-toe nail popped out and hit the religious judge in the face. She withstood the first three lashes well, but afterwards she had no recollection. At 9:00 p.m., Ms. Zare’i regained consciousness at the infirmary with extremely swollen feet, so much that she was unable to stand. Because the infirmary needed her bed for other people, she had to be taken to her cell amidst her immense pain. Three days later, she was taken to the judge again who insisted that she cooperate with them. “It is for your own good to cooperate with us,” he repeated. She refused. She was then taken to the same basement where she remained conscious for the first 10 lashes and then fainted. Again, she regained consciousness in the infirmary and was taken to her cell again but this time her legs were paralyzed from the knee down so that she could hardly move. The backs of her feet were severely swollen to the point that they would crack open with infection coming out of it. Thinking that she might receive some medication or treatment for the pain, she begged the “sister” to take her to the infirmary. Her feet felt as if they were on fire. But the cruel woman simply answered, “You deserve it! You should have listened to ‘Haj Aqa!’” They did not give her enough food either. A few days later, Fatemeh was taken to the same basement again. As soon as she arrived there, she fainted out of fear. A day or two later, they changed her cell. The new cell was actually a toilet-room, which had just enough space to squat, and smelled putrid and disgusting. She stayed in that horrid cell for 5 consecutive months. The worst thing was that for an entire month, every morning a repenter sister would open the door and spit on her face. It is noteworthy that Ms. Zare’i was deprived of all light during these months; she either was in the completely dark cell or otherwise blindfolded (Cahier d’Aziz, pages 21-23).

Ms. Zare’i was under psychological torture as well. For example, she described the night she heard the news of her sister’s execution. They woke her up at 11 p.m. to give her the “good news.” They watched her till the morning so that they could punish her if she cried. In addition, Ms. Zare’i’s children were in a precarious psychological state because they could not see their mother often or in person. Ms. Zare’i’s father stated that at the end of one of their annual visitations when they were about to leave Fatemeh, her little daughter would not let go of her mother. She was clinging and holding on to her mother, screaming. It saddened everyone. They begged [the prison officials] for her to stay with her mother at least for the night, but it was ultimately not accepted (Cahier d’Aziz, page 6).

Along with being under pressure to repent, the officials of the prison wanted her to do a televised confession. In one instance, a prison official had told her father that she was still with Rajavi [MKO] and refused to cooperate. He said that she should rot in prison. In addition to the torments that she herself endured, the officials used her family to put further psychological pressure on her. For example, her father stated in his memoir that at some point the family members—including the little children—had been summoned and a prison official had told them to ask Ms. Zare’i to repent. He had made a veiled threat to the Zare’i family by stating that she should accept the offer for her own sake and for the sake of the lives of her children and her parents (Cahier d’Aziz, page 7).

Beginning in March 1988, Ms. Zare’i went home on leave on two or three occasions. During her leave, she was extremely scared and repeatedly told her loved ones that it was their last time together. Also, on her first leave, she refused to talk to her husband and children who had left the country stating that she was not authorized to do so. However, during the second leave she said that she had to call the Ministry of Intelligence in order to get authorization to contact her husband and children. The Ministry delayed this request for authorization and Ms. Zare’i was therefore prevented from talking to her children. Ms. Zare’i told her family that she was closely watched throughout her leave and repeatedly explained that she could not do different things. The officials had instructed her to report everything when she went back, otherwise she would be tormented/tortured (Cahier d’Aziz, pages 32-34). These continuous torments had ultimately broken Ms. Zare’i’s spirit. She told her family that her only fear was being alive. She recounted the times that she would fall asleep for a short time, wake up, and then realize she was still living and shudder at the thought of having to endure torture again (Cahier d’Aziz, page 30). Ms. Zare’i’s last visitation with her family took place on 31 July 1988.


Ms. Zare’i was tried several times during her detention:

1. Ms. Zare’i was tried for the first time less than one week after her arrest [15 June 1981].

2. She had a retrial a few days later in June 1981, although it does not appear that she was present at the trial.

3. She was tried again in 1984. Her case was sent to the “Supreme Court of Qom” which, at the time, was a sort of appeals court for the Revolutionary Tribunals (4).

4. Ayatollah Montazeri’s “Special Mission” (5) which inspected prisons at the time also reviewed her case once (ABF interview).

5. In early 1985, Ms. Zare’i was tried again at the Headquarters of the Shiraz Revolutionary Guards. This trial lasted 8 months and was in session almost every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There were two interrogators and two repenters present at the trial who asked Ms. Zare’i numerous questions about the details of her life. Her entire family was summoned to court and questioned about Ms. Zare’i’s life. Even her children were subjected to questioning by the court so that information could be extracted about their mother’s life. Ms. Zare’i’s father stated that in order to ascertain the accuracy of the information she had given them about her life, the Revolutionary Guards asked the family [similar] questions and compared the answers with Ms. Zare’i’s. In one instance, they asked the children with whom they associated when their mother was on leave (Cahier d’Aziz, page 30).

6. On 31 July 1988, Ms. Zare’i was taken to one of the death committees. According to existing information about victims of the summer of 1988 executions, there was no official trial, no attorneys, and no prosecutors. 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, to answer a few questions. Her last conversation with her family indicates that Fatemeh was unaware that such a committee consisted of a court. In her description of this “court” to her family, she stated that on the night of 31st of July at 11:00 p.m., when everybody was asleep and Adel Abad Prison was in complete silence, she was suddenly awoken, blindfolded, and taken to a session where a number of men were present, including the religious judge, the warden, the prosecutor, the interrogator, the head of the Implementation Bureau, a number of Ministry of Intelligence agents, and others she had never seen before. After two questions regarding Ms. Zare’i’s standpoint regarding MKO and the Islamic Republic, the religious judge ordered that she be taken away. She expressed to her family that she did not know what objective they were pursuing (Cahier d’Aziz, page 36).


The charges brought against Ms. Zare’i in various tribunals are very ambiguous and unclear but can be summarized as follows:

All of the charges have been in relation with her membership with the MKO and with organizing prison inmates. In different courts and stages of her interrogations, she was accused of organizing protests in support of the MKO and distributing counter-revolutionary leaflets. In another instance, she was accused of giving speeches on behalf of the MKO. One of the focal points of these trials was Ms. Zare’i’s candidacy in the first parliamentary elections. The religious judge told Ms. Zare’i, “We cannot believe that you and your sister went to your basement, closed the door, became the hypocrites’ candidate and obtained votes. You refuse to tell the truth even though you are aware that the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini] has issued a fatwa pursuant to which killing hypocrites and confiscating their property is permissible. You should have been executed by now but we have kept you alive [to get to the bottom of the truth of certain stories] and to further destroy the enemy.” The officials believed that Ms. Zare’i had garnered votes because of her connection to the MKO and to foreign powers (Cahier d’Aziz, page 31).

At the first trial, Ms. Zare’i was charged with “distributing counter-revolutionary leaflets” (ABF interview). Her second trial came as a direct result of her protest to the outcome of the first verdict. The official who was serving her the verdict asked her in response to her protest, “Does this mean you wish to appeal the verdict?” When Fatemeh answered positively, she was charged with “defaming Islam’s order” (ABF emails).

Ms. Zare’i’s charge during the third trial in 1984 was establishing a 4-person group inside the prison for the purpose of recruiting inmates and contacting the MKO outside the prison (ABF interview).

It is not clear why Ms. Zare’i was tried for a fifth time in Sepah Prison in Shiraz, although she was asked during the trial about distributing leaflets and organizing meetings on behalf of the MKO (Cahier d’Aziz, page 30).

Regarding charges brought against Ms. Zare’i before the death committee, reference must be made to Ayatollah Khomeini’s decree, reproduced in the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, his then-designated successor, which corroborates the statements made by the families of the victims in connection with those charges. In that decree, Ayatollah Khomeini referred to members of the MKO as “hypocrites” who do not believe in Islam, and decreed, “Those prisoners who have insisted and continue to insist on maintaining their hypocritical positions are “waging war against God” and are sentenced to death.” Ms. Zare’i, who was one of the very rare cases of individuals to visit her family after appearing before the death committee, told her family during that last visit that the Shari’a judge had told her that they had been informed that she still supported the MKO (Cahier d’Aziz, page 36).

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution does not contain any evidence presented against Ms. Zare’i.


There is no information regarding Ms. Zare’i’s defense. Based on her father’s recollections from sessions of her trial held in 1984, it is clear that she was deprived of an effective defense and that she did not have access to an attorney and/or other guarantees of a fair legal proceeding. It appears that Ms. Zare’i was deprived of even the most basic standards of due process. There is no indication of the presence of a lawyer, the submission of evidence, or any witness testimony on behalf of the defendant. The presiding judges were the Revolutionary Guards’ interrogators and therefore, to no extent could have had judicial neutrality. These trials rather resembled interrogation sessions. For example, Ms. Zare’i’s father recounts that the most painful thing was to see Fatemeh, seated in a corner, sad, with a pen and a piece of paper in hand, not knowing what to write, surrounded by a few repenters, former students of hers, asking her questions (Cahier d’Aziz, page 30).

Ms. Zare’i told her interrogator that she obtained many votes during the parliamentary election because she was a popular physics teacher at several large high schools in Shiraz, that she cared for her students and that she treated them as if they were her own children. Fatemeh stated that her students had voted for her because they liked her too. She also said that she did not want to become a candidate and had refused the MKO proposal to run on several occasions, but ultimately they forced her to accept [to become a candidate]. In response to the accusation of distributing pamphlets and giving speeches in the years prior to 1981, she said that those were against the Shah’s regime and that after the fall of the Shah, they no longer had any activities and that she was among the very first individuals to be arrested in Shiraz. She argued that she spent a long time in prison outside the public sphere and that there was not much she could do [political activity] from within the prison (Cahier d’Aziz, page 30).

When Ms. Zare’i was asked about her stance regarding [her affiliation with] the MKO and the Islamic Republic before the death committee, she stated that if it was not yet evident to the judges that she was no longer active and was not even a sympathizer, that she simply did not know what else to do to convince them. She further stated that since the inception of the Islamic Republic, she had been in prison for 7 and a half years, removed from public life, and that she was therefore unable to formulate an opinion on the policies and operations of the Islamic Republic.

About the minimum standards of due process of law, the families of the prisoners noted in an open letter that the defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The letter rejected the accusation that these prisoners [from inside the prison] had collaborated with armed members of the MKO in clashes with armed forces of the Islamic Republic. It stated that such claims “are utterly false considering the circumstances in prisons, for our children faced the most difficult conditions including visitation rights once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone from behind a glass window, and the prisoners were deprived of any connection with the outside world. We faced such conditions for 7 years which proves the truth of our claim.”

In their 1988 open letter to Minister of Justice at the time, Dr. Habibi, the relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 argued that the official secrecy surrounding these executions is proof of their illegality. They noted 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.


Ms. Zare’i was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment less than one week after her arrest in June 1981. Shortly after the first verdict, and because she had appealed the verdict, she was tried again and this time sentenced to 10 years in prison (ABF correspondence).

Ms. Zare’i was sentenced to death for forming a 4-person group in the prison after her third trial in 1984. The other three individuals were executed but her case went to the Supreme Revolutionary Tribunal of Qom, which overturned the death sentence due to the lack of evidence against Ms. Zare’i the only evidence being the statements of the three who had already been executed. Later [for the fourth time], Ayatollah Montazeri’s Mission which used to inspect the prisons reduced her sentence to 10 years (ABF interview). In January 1984, Ms. Zare’i’s case was returned to Shiraz and the family was informed that her 10-year sentence had been upheld (Cahier d’Aziz, page 19).

In June 1986 after her fifth trial, yet another verdict was issued to Ms. Zare’i, the reason for which is not known. Pursuant to this verdict, she was sentenced to 7 years in prison, which commenced on the date of the verdict. When Ms. Zare’i’s father asked the Prosecutor of Shiraz what would become of the five years she had already served in prison he was told to thank God that they had not executed her! (Cahier d’Aziz, page 31) In March 1987, three years of Ms. Zare’i’s sentence were pardoned by Ayatollah Khomeini. She was supposed to be released in late March-April 1990 (Cahier d’Aziz, page 32).

Ms. Zare’i was taken to the death committees on 31 July 1988 and lost her life along with many others during the killings of political prisoners. On the same day, the prison officials contacted Ms. Zare’i’s family and told them that Ms. Zare’i was about to go on a long trip, and suggested that they meet her in-person the next day. It was not a regular day for visitation and the family had actually visited her the previous day. Ms. Zare’i’s family had met their daughter on 31 July 1988 in the presence of a religious judge. The family had even brought her clothes, money, and fruits. During that visit, Ms. Zare’i had told them about the session before the death committee, although she did not know what their purpose was. She had advised her sisters about their lives. The prison officials told them to return to the prison in 15 days for further information about Ms. Zare’i (Cahier d’Aziz, page 36, ABF interview).

Fifteen days later, when the Zare’is went to the prison, they saw numerous families like themselves who had gathered in front of the prison entrance. There was a heavy security atmosphere and no information was given to the families. Subsequently, the families would gather every week in front of the prison to acquire information about their loved-ones but only one Revolutionary Guard would come atop the wall and shout, “Don’t wait here in vein! Your children are barred from all visitations and they don’t need anything. We have everything they need.” In late October 1988, some forms were distributed amongst the families, which they had to fill out with information such as the prisoner and the family’s exact descriptions and identification, their address of residence and workplace, the source of their income, the number of their family members, etc (Cahier d’Aziz, page 37).

In early November 1988, the family was informed by telephone to be present at 8:00 a.m. the next day at Adel Abad Prison. On that day, approximately 100 people from the prisoners’ families had gathered in front of the prison. They were called in, one by one. Then, Ms. Zare’i’s father was called in. At first, he was asked questions such as, “What is your opinion of the Islamic Republic? What is your memory of the day when 72 of the Imam’s fellows were killed (5)?” He was then given a letter of commitment providing that the families would refrain from mourning, holding any form of funeral service, playing audio Quranic verses, as is Islamic tradition, and even crying loudly. At the end of the document, it was stated that violation of the terms and conditions would be considered opposition to the regime of Islamic Republic and the culprit would be severely punished. Mr. Zare’i was also given a piece of paper that read: Darorrahmeh [Shiraz’s cemetery], Section 25, Row 5, grave no. 2 (Cahier d’Aziz, page 38).

According to Ms. Zare’i’s father, there were rows of pavement for pre-constructed graves in the section of Shiraz Cemetery where Fatemeh was buried (Cahier d’Aziz, page 39). The graves were unmarked, and the families were allowed to place a gravestone only after sometime had passed. Ms. Zare’i’s family is not even certain if the grave is their daughter’s, but according to their son-in-law, they have accepted it for their own peace of mind. Nevertheless, unknown individuals tormented them when they came to pay their respects. For instance, once an old lady approached Ms. Zare’i’s mother who was sitting by her daughter’s grave and told her, “What are you doing at my child’s grave?!” Mrs. Zare’i explained that it was her own daughter’s grave but the lady answered her with a sneer, “That’s what you think! You’re dreaming!”(ABF interview). Ms. Zare’i’s father also mentioned the harassments, which the family had to endure after their daughter’s execution. He remembered that their home phone was still tapped some time after Fatemeh had passed and even their letters went to the Ministry of Intelligence (Cahier d’Aziz, page 28).


(1) The Cultural Revolution began after Ayatollah Khomeini gave a speech in March 1980 and ordered that universities be purged of all those who opposed his regime and that they be transformed into “learning environments” [as opposed to political forums] where “an all-Islamic curriculum” would be taught. The first wave of violence began on 15 April 1980 during a speech by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani [a member of the Council of the Islamic Revolution and Minister of Interior] at the University of Tabriz. Following the speech, students supporting the regime took control of the University’s central building and demanded that the “university be purged” from “pro-Shah elements and other sellouts.”

On April 18, the Council of the Islamic Revolution issued a communiqué accusing political groups of converting higher education institutions into “headquarters of discordant political activities” and naming them as obstacles to the radical transformation of the universities. The communiqué gave these groups three days (Saturday, April 19 to Monday, April 21) to shut down their activities in the universities. The Council stressed that the decision included libraries along with activities related to arts and sports. Political groups, which recruited members and had strong support in the universities, refused to evacuate.

Before the Council’s deadline, serious clashes took place between leftist groups and Islamist Associations, which were at times supported by security forces and paramilitary groups. These clashes, which peaked at the end of the three-day deadline, resulted in the death of several people and the wounding of hundreds of others on university campuses around the country.

On April 21, the Islamic Republic authorities announced the victory of the Cultural Revolution and the closure of all universities in order to Islamicizethe curricula. The universities remained closed for two years. One of the outcomes of the Cultural Revolution was the purging of many university professors and students based on their political beliefs.

(2) The exclusion of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the MKO as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollah supporters of the regime attacked Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On 20June 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the regime called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic started a campaign of repression—unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On 21 June1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and retaliated by assassinating a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime.

In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq War. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the Forugh Javidan Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding the members or operations of the MKO inside the country.

(3) Apolo is a machine in the shape of an arm chair designed for flogging the prisoners’ sole of the feet. The inmate lays on it and his or her feet are fastened to the machine. On each arm of this chair, there are clips to fasten the prisoner’s hand. An iron helmet is placed on the prisoner’s head. The reason for this is that when the prisoners yell in pain, their voice would be echoed within the helmet, causing further pain in the ears.

(4) The Supreme Court of Qom: Sometime between July 1981 and January 1983, in practice a court was established in Qom, to which the cases of execution and confiscation of properties were sent and it was a primary form of appeal, but this court was not the court of appeal in the international standards and there is no organized record of the court’s jurisdiction. This court was dissolved in 1989.

(5) After 1979 Revolution, following some reports indicating torture and mistreatment of the political prisoners, a number of missions were conformed to inspect the prisons’ conditions. One of these missions was formed under the supervision of Ayatollah Montazeri—who was originally designated to become supreme leader until 1989. In May 1983, Ayatollah Montazeri formed “the Organization of Prison Reform,” which was also known as “Ayatollah Montazeri’s Mission,” to observe the prisons. In this context, since May 1983, some inspectors were sent to different prisons to “talk to political prisoners, guide them and… [figure out] if they have become penitent and mindful” according to Ayatollah Montazeri. If these conditions were proven to be met, these inspectors used to coordinate with the warden, the representative of the Ministry of Intelligence and the prosecution office and sent the prisoners’ cases to the “Board of Amnesty”. The cases that passed these levels would go to Ayatollah Montazeri, and he could pardon the prisoners on behalf of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader. This mission also received complaints from the families of the prisoners and occasionally met with them. Political prisoners at the time, testify that the presence of this mission changed the prisons' condition and caused expulsion of some more radical officials of the prisons at least until 1986 and relative decrease of the pressures on the political prisoners in some prisons (such as ending the compulsory prayers, allowing newspapers and books in prisons, etc).

(6) On 27 June 1981, Ayatollah Beheshti, a revolutionist cleric, was killed in a bombing while was giving a speech at the headquarters of Islamic Republic Political Party. 72 people were allegedly killed along with him.

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