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

Ahmad Danesh Shari'at Panahi

About

Age: 55
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

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

About this Case

Information about Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi was gathered from an electronic form sent to the Boroumand Foundation by a person familiar with this case. Further information on Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi, an affiliate of the Tudeh Party, is also taken from the book Those Who Said No, published in 1999 in Paris by the Association for the Defense of Political Prisoners and Prisoners of Conscience in Iran. 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; and interviews with 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. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi was born in Bam in 1933. He went to Germany to continue his education in 1951 and became a urologist. He was also politically active and returned to Iran by an advice from the Tudeh Party in 1972. He was a member of the Central Committee of the party.   

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh's ideology was Marxist-Leninist, and it supported the former Soviet Union’s policies. The Party played a major role in Iran's political scene, until it was banned for a second time following the August 19, 1953, coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Tudeh declared Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic regime revolutionaries and anti-imperialists and actively supported the new government. Although the Party never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of its attacks, beginning in 1982, when most of the Party's leaders and members were imprisoned.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi was arrested at his residence on April 27, 1983. In an open letter to Ayatollah Montazeri from Evin Prison, in 1987, he wrote about the bad condtions of the prisoners and the way they were treated and how some prisoners were kept longer than their sentence, in order to force them to interview [in favor of the regime]. He also wrote about his own arrest and prison conditions:  “On April 27, at dawn, several armed young men attacked my house. After they created fear and intimidation for my wife and two daughters and messed up the house, they blindfolded me and took me away. I was beaten up many times in prison for being falsely accused of touching my blindfold, even when I was asleep. I was denied any contact with anyone outside or my family. I had no visitation for over a year and a half. My phone contact was discontinued, and my family had no news of me for several months. Then, I was allowed to call my family for only a few minutes, blindfolded and under the supervision of a guard, every fortnight or sometimes every month. I received the worst political and honor defamation and spent two and a half years in solitary confinement or even worse conditions.”    

Trial

In his open letter to Ayatollah Montazeri, Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi wrote about his trial after two years’ imprisonment:  “They took me to a room, where a young cleric sat behind a desk. He asked me the same questions that my interrogator had asked. He asked me if I still believed in my beliefs. Later, I realized that this session, which did not take more than a few minutes, was my trial.”  Specific details about the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi are unknown. No information is available about the trial sessions. According to the testimonies of leftist political prisoners who were tried in Gohardasht Prison 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

At the end of his indictment, as a charge against Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi, it was stated, “Because the defendant still believes in his beliefs, the maximum religious punishment is requested.”  

No charge has been publicly stated against the victims of the 1988 mass executions.  Based on the testimonies of the prisoners who were held in prisons in the summer of 1988, the questions of the three-member committee asked of 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 decreeing 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 the defendant.

Defense

No information is available on Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi’s defense before the three-member committee.

Judgment

Mr. Ahmad Danesh-Shari’atpanahi was hanged during the mass killings of political prisoners in Evin Prison in the summer of 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. 

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