Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Hossein Safavinia


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


Date of Killing: 1988
Location of Killing: Gohardasht Prison, Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Apostasy

About this Case

Information about Mr. Hossein Safavinia was gathered from an electronic form sent to the Boroumand Foundation by a person familiar with this case. Mr. Hossein Safavinia, 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, 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. Hossein Safavinia was born on March 10, 1952. He was married, an industrial engineer, and a member of the Tudeh Party of Iran.

The Tudeh Party of Iran (Hezbe Tudeh or the Party of the Masses) was founded in 1941 by a group of mostly communist intellectuals. Its non-radical reformist platform and its name reflected the founders’ hopes to attract the larger religious population. However, the Party's Marxist-Leninist orientation and its anti-Imperialist and anti-Fascist positions made it most influential among intellectuals and educated Iranians. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the Tudeh, with its country-wide organization, including active women, youth, and labor groups, as well as a secret military network (Sazman-e Nezami-ye Hezb-e Tudeh Iran), played a major role in Iran’s political scene.

The Tudeh was banned following an attempted assassination against the Shah in 1949. Nonetheless, the Party continued its activities, as well as its publications, of which there would be many. Following the August 19, 1953, coup, the Tudeh’s military network was annihilated, and many of its leaders were arrested or forced into exile, mostly in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Over the years, the Party’s political influence diminished, due to various splits resulting from its pro-Soviet stand, policies in periods of political tension in Iran, and from the radicalization of the left in the 1960s and 1970s.

After the 1979 Revolution, the Tudeh declared Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic regime [to be] revolutionaries and anti-imperialists and actively supported and collaborated with the government. Though the Party never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of its attacks in 1982, and the Party's leaders and many members, including those of the new secret military network, were arrested.

The Tudeh lost scores of its members during the mass prison killings of 1988. Following several splits, the Party resumed its activities in the early 1990s in exile.

Arrest and detention

According to the Bidaran website, Mr. Hossein Safavinia was arrested on May 1, 1982. There is no specific information concerning his arrest and detention.


According to the electronic form (above), Mr. Hossein Safavinia had been tried in court and condemned to five years imprisonment. Specific details about the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Hossein Safavinia 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. 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 prisoners in the summer of 1988, the questions of the three-member committee to the leftist prisoners were about their beliefs and whether 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 executions.  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 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. Hossein Safavinia.


No information is available regarding Mr. Hossein Safavinia’s defense before the three-member committee.


Mr. Hossein Safavinia was executed during the mass killings of political prisoners at Gohardasht Prison in Karaj on August 27, 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 families about the executions and handed 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.


Correct/ Complete This Entry