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

Kasra Akbari Kordestani

About

Age: 43
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: August 30, 1988
Location: Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Apostasy; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech

About this Case

Kasra Akbari Kordestani, a native of Kermanshah, was politically involved before the fall of the Shah.  Continually active, he ran the Pishgam Student Organization in Ahvaz.  

Information about Mr. Kasra Akbari Kordestani is based on an interview with his brother-in-law. He is one victim of the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. 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.

Mr. Kasra Akbari Kordestani was born in Kermanshah in 1945. He was a student and was imprisoned twice for political activities before the Revolution. The first time, in 1973, he spent one year in prison. He joined the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization after his release. In 1976, he was arrested again and condemned to 15 years’ imprisonment. During the Revolution, he was released, along with other political prisoners. After the Revolution, he re-joined the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization. He was active in the Kordestan Branch of the organization for some time and then directed the Pishgam Student Organization in Ahvaz. Then he moved to Tehran and worked with the Kar newspaper (the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization’s main publication). First, he was in charge of the Farmers Page and then the economic articles. During this period, he translated the book, “Purshnof Psychology.” In 1981, he joined the Tudeh Party of Iran.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh ideology was Marxist-Leninist and it supported the policies of the former Soviet Union. The party played a major role on Iran’s political landscape until it was banned for a second time, following the August 19, 1953 coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Tudeh declared Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic regime to be revolutionaries and anti-imperialists and actively supported the new government. Although the p arty never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of its attacks, beginning in 1982, when most of the party leaders and members were imprisoned. 

Arrest and detention

Mr. Akbari Kordestani was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards of the Public Prosecution Office on a street in Tehran on February 13, 1984. According to the interviewee, during his transfer to Evin Prison, he threw himself out of the car, but the Guards shot and injured him in the back. His bloody and unconscious body was transferred to the Evin clinic. He spent two days in a coma. He had broken ribs, punctured lungs, and head injuries. They transferred him to the Heart Hospital, where doctors tried to save him. After months of hospitalization, he was transferred back to Evin Prison, and severely tortured. 

Trial

No exact information is available on the defendant’s trial. The first trial condemned Mr. Kasra Akbari Kordestani to 15 years’ imprisonment. Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Akbari Kordestani and thousands of other individuals in 1988 are not known. According to available information, the Iranian authorities did not try the victims of the 1988 mass execution in a court with the presence of a defense lawyer. The prisoners executed in 1988 had been questioned by a three-member special committee composed of a religious judge, a representative of the Intelligence Ministry, and the Tehran Prosecutor. The committee questioned the leftist prisoners about their beliefs and their faith in God and religion.

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 at the time they were retried and sentenced to death. 

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 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.” He 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 does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant. 

Defense

No information is available on Mr. Kasra Akbari Kordestani’s defense. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners note 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 the prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone from behind a 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

According to the interviewee, Mr. Kasra Akbari Kordestani was hanged at Evin Prison on August 30, 1988. Details regarding the execution order are not available. 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 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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