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

Kiumars Zarshenas

About

Age: 52
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Unknown

Case

Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Apostasy

About this Case

Mr. Kiumars Zarshenas was a victim of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. 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 Fedaiyan Khalq (Minority) and the Peykar Organization, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and the Fedaiyan Khalq (Majority), which did not. Information about the mass executions has been gathered by the Boroumand Foundation from the memoir of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with victims’ families, and witnesses’ memoirs.

The information about Mr. Zarshenas is taken from the book The Martyrs of the Tudeh Party of Iran by the Tudeh Party Publications. He was born in Amol (Mazandaran province) in 1936. He joined the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party in 1951. After graduating from high school, he went to Austria to continue his education. He was one of the first activists in the Student Confederation. After the Revolution, he returned to Iran and served as the Head of the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party. In March 1980, he became the party candidate for the Islamic Parliament from Amol.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh Party ideology was Marxist- Leninist and it supported policies of the former Soviet Union. The Party played a major role in Iran’s political scene until it was banned for the second time following the August 19, 1953 coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Party 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 government attacks in 1982 when most of the Party’s leaders and members were imprisoned.

Arrest and detention

The circumstances of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known. Mr. Kiumars Zarshenas was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on February 6, 1983.

Trial

No information is available on the defendant’s trial. According to existing information, there was no official trial with the presence of an attorney and prosecutor for the victims of the 1988 mass executions. Those who were executed in 1988 were sent to a three-man committee consisting of a religious judge, a representative from the Intelligence Ministry, and a Public Prosecutor of Tehran. This committee asked the leftist prisoners some questions about their beliefs and whether or not they believed in God.

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 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 serving when they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

No information is available on Mr. Kiumars Zarshenas’s charges. 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.

Defendants, who did not belong to the Organization named by the leader of the Islamic Republic, may have been accused of being “anti-religion” for not having renounced his or her beliefs.

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution contains no evidence provided against the defendant.

Defense

No information is available about his 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 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 the 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.”

Judgment

Mr. Kiumars Zarshenas was executed by a firing squad at Evin prison on July 20, 1988. According to available information, leftist prisoners executed in 1988 were found to be “apostates.” Months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed in 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 against holding memorial ceremonies.

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