Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Shahriar Esfarayeni


Age: 26
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: 1988
Location of Killing: Bojnurd, Khorasan\Khorasan-e Razavi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Information about Mr. Shahriar Esfarayeni was gathered from an electronic form sent to the Boroumand Foundation by a relative, the website of Iranian Leftist Students and Youths Council, and the Mojahedin Khalq website. 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 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. Shahriar Esfarayeni’s name is among the victims of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, on its website. However, according to the website of the Iranian Leftist Students and Youths Council, Mr. Esfarayeni was one of several sympathizers of the Mojahedin who had changed his ideology to communism at the prison. The person sending the electronic form, however, is certain that Mr. Esfarayeni was not affiliated with the Mojahedin Khalq or any other organization.

Arrest and detention

There is no specific information on Mr. Shahriar Esfarayeni’s arrest and detention.


There are no specific details about the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Shahriar Esfarayeni. According to the testimonies of leftist political prisoners who were tried in Iran’s Prisons during the executions of the summer of 1988, the trials took place in a room in the prisons after a few weeks of isolation during which prisoners were deprived of visitation, television and radio broadcasts, and outdoors time. Toward the end of August, a three-member delegation composed of the prosecutor, a religious judge, and a 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 later 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. During the summer of 1988, according to survivors, 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.


No charge has been publicly stated against the victims of the 1988 mass executions.  Based on the testimonies of those who were in prison during the summer of 1988, the questions of the three-member committee 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 having been “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 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. 

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against Mr. Shahriar Esfarayeni.


No information is available about Mr. Shahriar Esfarayeni’s defense before the three-member committee.


Mr. Shahriar Esfarayeni was executed during the mass killings of political prisoners at Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad in 1988. Based on the Boroumand Foundation’s research, leftist prisoners executed in 1988 had been 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 loves ones.


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