Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Zia' Tavasoli


Age: 27
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: December 7, 1981
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups
Age at time of alleged offense: 27

About this Case

News of the execution and information about Mr. Zia’ Tavasoli, son of Mahmud, was sent to Omid via electronic forms and emails by a person close to him. According to this information, he was born in Nur, Mazandaran, in 1954. After he completed his fifth grade education, he moved to Tehran and start working as a worker in a metal workshop. In 1973, he was introduced to political activism and the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. During the pre-revolutionary demonstrations, he was active and joined the Tohid Association connected to the Mojahedin Organization, and he participated in meetings and demonstrations of this group until June 20, 1981 when he went underground. He was married and kept his connection with his wife during this period. According to people close to him, Mr. Tavasoli was a kind and affable man.   

Mr. Tavasoli is one of the 12,028 individuals listed in an addendum to the Mojahed magazine (No. 261) as a sympathizer of this organization, published by the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in 1985. The list includes individuals, affiliated with various opposition groups, who were executed or killed during clashes with the Islamic Republic security forces from June 1981 to the publication date of the magazine.

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) 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 valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but 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 recruit 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 infiltration of 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, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic’s leaders. *

Arrest and detention

According to the electronic form report, Mr. Tavasoli was arrested in Tehran on November 22, 1981. On this day he told his wife that he was going on a rendezvous. According to his family, Mr. Tavasoli’s cousin had seen him around Sabalan Street and reported him. When his mother and his wife went to the Evin Prison, authorities did not inform them. The circumstances of his arrest and detention are not known.


No information is available on Mr. Tavasoli’s trial.


According to the electronic form report, the charge brought against Mr. Tavasoli was for his activities for the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. However, no information is available on his official charges.

Evidence of guilt

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


No information is available on Mr. Tavasoli’s defense.


According to the electronic form report, Mr. Zia’ Tavasoli was executed by firing squad in Evin Prison on December 7, 1981. On January 18, 1981, authorities asked Mr. Tavasoli’s wife to go to the Evin Prison. When she went, they gave her Mr. Tavasoli’s will and watch and told her that he had been executed on December 7, 1981. They also informed her of his burial location. No further information is available about his execution.


* The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’ efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the authorities 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 regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated 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. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country.

In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.

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