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

Bijan Bazargan

About

Age: 29
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: 1988 - 1989
Location: Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Unspecified counter-revolutionary offense

About this Case

Information about Mr. Bijan Bazargan, son of Ghazanfar, was gathered from an electronic form sent to the Boroumand Foundation by his sister. He is one of 1,000 people identified in a UN Human Rights Commission's Special Representative Report, "Names and particulars of persons allegedly executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran during the period July-December 1988," published January 26, 1989. He 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. Bijan Bazargan was single and born in Quchan in 1959. He graduated from high school when he was 16 and went to England to continue his education in medicine. In London, he joined the Iranian student movement, was active in the Confederation of Iranian Students, and was a sympathizer of the Ettehadieh Komonist-ha (communists union). After the revolution, Mr. Bazargan returned to Iran and, after taking the general university entry exam, was accepted at the School of Allied Medical Sciences, majoring in Industrial Health. After the Cultural Revolution and the closure of all universities, he was forced to stay home.

The Ettehadieh Komonist-ha was created by exiled opponents of the Pahlavi regime, who mostly belonged to the Student Confederation. They followed the teachings of Mao Tse-Tung but did not believe in guerilla warfare. The group became marked by ideological divisions during the periods preceding and following the 1979 revolution, which caused it to split into several factions. One of the most important rifts was triggered by the decision of a number of members to take up arms and take over a city in Iran. The uprising plan, devised in the midst of an active and violent anti-communist campaign of the revolutionary Islamic government, split the Ettehadieh in two factions:  one believed in the armed movement and the other opposed it. 

In the winter of 1982, armed members of the Ettehadieh hid in a forest in the north of Iran (“Jangal” in Farsi) outside the city of Amol. This group, also known as the Jangal group, was involved in several clashes with the Revolutionary guards and, ultimately, on January 26, attacked the city of Amol, hoping to generate a general uprising. The attempt to seize Amol failed. It is reported that a number of the group’s members, revolutionary guards, and civilians were killed during the Amol clash. Subsequently, members of the Ettehadieh, including those who opposed the Amol uprising, were arrested and tried for belonging to the organization and for having participated in the Amol clash.  

Mr. Bazargan’s sister remembers him as a patriotic and disciplined person and recalls his life before detention as following:  “Bijan always had plans in his life. He would wake up at a certain time in the morning and exercise. Then he would read for hours and make notes or play chess. Every evening at 5:00, he would go to the kitchen, taking some fruit, and sat with us in front of TV to watch cartoons. He loved the Pink Panther cartoon. This was his only break. He would return to his room, continuing his reading.”  

Arrest and detention 

Mr. Bijan Bazargan was arrested at a rendezvous with an arrested comrade at Falake-Aval in Ariashahr, Tehran, on a July afternoon in 1982. In spite of his family’s efforts to receive any news of him by going to various official institutions, authorities kept them uninformed of his arrest for four months. Afterwards, he had a monthly visitation with his parents. Mr. Bazargan was detained at Evin and Gohardasht prisons. He was denied access to an attorney. 

Trial 

According to his sister, Mr. Bazargan was selling the Ettehadieh Komonist-ha newspaper and distributing its pamphlets, when this organization was legal and had official authorization for its newspaper. His first trial took place in Tehran, two years after his arrest. He was blindfolded, had no attorney, and had no opportunity to defend himself. The court condemned him to ten years imprisonment. Mr. Bazargan was upset for being arrested at 23 and condemned to such a heavy sentence. Efforts of his family to appeal the case were futile.    

Specific details about the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Bijan Bazargan are unknown. According to the testimonies of leftist political prisoners who were tried in Evin and Gohardasht 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, 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 and 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

According to his sister, the charges against Mr. Bazargan were announced as, “sympathizing with [political] groups, selling [political] newspapers, distributing pamphlets, and providing financial support.”

No charge has been publicly stated against the victims of the 1988 mass executions.  Based on the testimonies of the prisoners, who were in prisons in the summer of 1988, the questions of the three-member committee to 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 decree 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. Bijan Bazargan. 

Defense 

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

Judgment 

According to the electronic form, Mr. Bijan Bazargan was executed during the mass killings of political prisoners in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, in September of 1988. Authorities did not inform the family for three months. On December 4, 1988, when his mother went to Evin Prison, officials told her, “Tell his father to come tomorrow.” The next day, when Mr. Bazargan’s father went to the prison, they informed him of his son’s execution and gave him a bag containing the prisoner’s belongings. Officials did not disclose his burial location. They told his father, “Your son was an infidel and has no grave. Go and read Quran for him. You are not allowed to have any ceremony.” 

Mr. Bazargan’s sister wrote, “After all these years, when I remember that bag and those days, I tremble. It’s too horrific that the only keepsake of your brother is a bag, a bag that contains another prisoner’s belongings.” 

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