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

Mohammad (Vahid) No'parvar

About

Age: 27
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: August 12, 1988
Location of Killing: Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison, Karaj, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups
Age at time of offense: 21

About this Case

was kind, modest, and honest! 

News of Mr. Mohammad No’parvar’s execution was obtained through an interview conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center with a person close to him (July 20, 2018), an electronic form filled out and sent to the Center by a person close to him (2018), and the story of Mr. No’parvar’s life, social and political activities submitted by a person close to him (2018). Additional information about this case was obtained from the Notice of Sentence served by the Central Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office on the Prison Warden (May 22, 1982), his two letters sent from inside prison (May 23, 1987, and March 31, 1988), and pictures sent by a person close to him.

Mr. Mohammad (Vahid) No’parvar, child of Allahgholi and Azemat, is one of the victims of the 1988 mass killing of political prisoners. Most of the prisoners who were executed were members and supporters of the Mojahedeen Khalq Iran Organization (MKO). Additionally, [members and supporters of] Marxixt-Leninist groups opposed to the Islamic Republic such as Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (Minority) and Peykar Party, and members and supporters of other parties such as Tudeh and Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (Majority) that did not engage in any activities opposing the Islamic Republic, were also victims of the killings. Additional information about the 1988 killings was obtained by the Boroumand Center from Ayatollah Montazeri’s memoirs, human rights organizations’ reports, interviews with families of the victims, and memoirs of those who witnessed the mass murder.

Mr. No’parvar was born in Tehran on September 30, 1961, in a large family, and was 27 years old [at the time of his execution]. He was single and had studied up to twelfth grade. He began his political and social activities in 1978 when he was 17 years old, and was active during the 1979 Revolution. He began his collaboration with the Mojahedeen Khalq Organization* after the Revolution. His activities consisted of selling newspapers and [taking part in] the MKO publications [department].

According to a person close to Mr. No’parvar, “Vahid was one of the best people I’ve ever known: Kind, modest, and honest! Most importantly, he was honest with himself. His ideal was defending and protecting the oppressed; he truly believed in the power of the masses, and his biggest hope was their victory. In spite of his young age, he helped those in need [by spending money] from his own pocket, in secret and without showing off.” Mr. No’parvar liked to paint and there are several paintings in existence that he left behind. (Boroumand Center Interview with a person close to him). 

Arrest and detention

In mid-April 1982, Mr. No’parvar turned himself in to the authorities at Evin Prison in Tehran. Toward the middle of 1981, a neighbor of Mr. No’parvar’s who was a Mojahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO) supporter, had been arrested and had subsequently started cooperating with the authorities. In the winter of 1982, the neighbor, accompanied by several Revolutionary Guardsmen, went to Mr. No’parvar’s home to arrest him and his brother, who were not home at the time. Mr. No’parvar, who had been a fugitive since mid-1981, did not return home after that day until he turned himself in [to Evin Prison]. Considering the level of his activities in the MKO and his lack of support for them after the killing of Moussa Khiabani, one of the MKO’s leaders, Mr. No’parvar thought that he would be sentenced to a few years in prison if he turned himself in voluntarily, and would ultimately be released. (Boroumand Center Interview with a person close to him).

After being interrogated and tried at Evin Prison, Mr. No’parvar was transferred to Qezelhessar Prison. His two brothers were also given up by that same person and were arrested. He was transferred back to Evin Prison in early 1983 and was interrogated there along with his two brothers. He was transferred to Gohardasht Prison in 1985-86. In 1988, Mr. No’parvar was at [the city of] Karaj’s Gohardasht Prison, Ward 3. (Boroumand Center Interview with a person close to him).

Mr. No’parvar’s first visitation with his family took place at Qezalhessar Prison about 3 months after he turned himself in. After that first visitation, he had visitations once every two weeks. In visitations that took place subsequent to the 1985 interrogations in Gohardasht Prison, his father noticed that he was unable to stand on his feet because he had been flogged at the bottom of his feet and had lost a lot of weight. After the death of Mr. No’parvar’s father, and upon his family’s repeated requests and insistence, he was taken home to his mother by two Revolutionary Guardsmen for a two-hour visit in 1985-86. He neither said nor ate anything during the visit. His last visitation with his family took place in July 1988 at Gohardasht Prison. (Boroumand Center Interview with a person close to him).

In the six years and four months that he spent in prison, Mr. No’parvar was subjected to all kinds of physical and psychological torture. The shortage of toilets, showers, living space, and food was among the regular issues that prison had. “One day, one of the guards opened and closed the door to the ward with extra force and said ‘Hey, No’parvar, your mother’s dead’. Mohammad spent the entire time until the next visitation when he saw his mother, in agony and anxiety.” He told his family during one visitation: “We tell them to treat us in accordance with the law, and not cut off exercise, time outdoors, TV, and newspapers any time they feel like it! But there is no law in here and they do with us as they wish.” (Writing submitted by a person close to Mr. No’parvar).

In his letters, Mr. No’parvar sounded hopeful about the future and would console his family: “I hope that you will remain strong and solid, as I could tell you were during visitation, although it’s not time for congratulations (alluding to the news of his father’s death). But the death of another winter and the re-birth of nature is an undeniable truth…” (Letter from prison, May 23, 1987).

Trial

The Markaz (Central) Islamic Revolutionary Court, Branch 11, tried Mr. No’parvar on May 13, 1982 at Evin Prison. (The Markaz  Islamic Revolutionary Court paper). He did not have access to his case file and was denied legal representation. (Boroumand Center Interview with a person close to him).

No further detail is available regarding Mr. No’parvar’s trial. However, according to the testimonies of some of the political prisoners who were tried during the executions of the summer of 1988 in Gpohardasht and Evin prisons, 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 outdoors time. In August and September, a three-member delegation composed of Hojatoleslam Eshraqi, the prosecutor, Hojatoleslam Nayyeri, the religious judge, and Hojatoleslam Pourmohamadi, the representative of the Ministry of Information asked prisoners questions about their views on Mojahedin, whether they would renounce their beliefs and if they were ready to cooperate against the Mojahedin.

Based on what the answers were, the prisoners would have been charged with “counter revolutionary, anti-religion and anti-Islam” or “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders” and would be sentenced to death.   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. 

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 then-Minister of Justice 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

The charge brought against Mr. No’parvar  is not known.

No charge has been publicly leveled against the victims of the 1988 mass executions. In their letters to the Minister of Justice (1988) and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran (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 “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 evidence against Mr. No’parvar was stated to be “the neighbor’s testimony and his own confessions”. This evidence was presented at his first trial.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.

Defense

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

In their open letter, the families of the prisoners noted that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The same letter, rebutting the accusation that these prisoners (from inside the prison) had collaborated with armed members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in clashes with armed forces of the Islamic Republic, states that such claims “are false, considering the circumstances in prisons; for our children faced most difficult conditions [in prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone, from behind the glass window, and were deprived of any connection with the outside world. We faced such conditions for seven years, which proves the truth of our claim.”

A Summary of the Defects of Mr. No'parvar’s Legal Proceedings

Mr. No’parvar’s execution occurred in 1988 along with that of thousands of other political prisoners. What happened in these killings was that the Leader of the Islamic Republic considered those political prisoners who insisted on maintaining their positions in support of their beliefs [and the positions of their corresponding organizations], worthy of death, and unilaterally ordered a panel to issue death sentences. The most important legal issue regarding these executions is the Iranian leader’s interference in a judicial matter. The powers of the leader have been specifically enumerated in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic and he does not have the authority to issue a ruling and declare anyone an apostate or “Mofsed fel-Arz” (“one who spreads corruption on Earth”). In issuing an order that was outside the purview of his authority, Mr. Khomeini laid the groundwork for the execution of individuals like Mr. Mohammad No’parvar. Since [the issuance and the substance of] that letter (the order) was not within his powers, it is without legal validity and credence.

Another fundamental legal defect in Mr. No’parvar’s case is that he had already been tried and sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1982, and was serving his prison sentence. In accordance with the basic legal principle [of res judicata], if a case is adjudicated [on its merits] resulting in the issuance of a final decision, it may not be re-litigated, i.e. the case may not be re-opened and the convicted individual may not be tried again [unless new evidence has come to light proving his innocence]. The second ruling was issued contrary to the principle of res judicata and has no legal validity.

Pursuant to criminal law principles, thought cannot be considered a crime under any circumstances whatsoever. Even if a person has criminal thoughts but those thoughts are not turned into action, or the person does not make preparations for the commission of the crime, he/she is not a criminal and may not be tried solely for having criminal thoughts. In the present case, one can observe that Mr. No’parvar was tried and sentenced to death for holding certain beliefs. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran provides that individuals have freedom of belief and one cannot be questioned for a holding a particular belief. In other words, Mr. No’parvar was sentenced to death without having committed a criminal act.

Mr. No’parvar’s trial is riddled with procedural and substantive defects. According to available information, he did not have access to an attorney. The authorities’ claim of contact with armed elements outside prison has not been proven by any means whatsoever and has no logical basis. The judges on the panel were appointed on the orders of the Iranian leader. The trial took place in unfair and threatening circumstances and in secret, with no possibility of appeal before judicial authorities.

Judgment

Mr. No’parvar was hanged on August 6, or August 12, 1988 in Gohardasht Prison after six years and four months of incarceration. The date stated on his grave stone is August 12.

Mr. No’parvar was executed while serving 15 years in prison based on the Markaz Islamic Revolutionary Court’s ruling, and was supposed to be released on April 19, 1997.

On November 3, 1988, Mr. No’parvar’s family received a phone call at home telling them to go to prison to take his belongings. The authorities did not allow the family to mourn their loved one.

Mr. No’parvar was buried in Tehran’s Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery, Section 108. Following persistent follow-ups by his family, prison authorities finally told them the location of Mr. No’parvar’s grave. Several of the other victims of the 1988 killing are buried close to his grave. What sets these graves apart from other graves is the date of birth, date of death, and the burial dates of the deceased.

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*The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles 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 leaders.

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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