Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Abolfazl Purhabibi


Age: 33
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: March 28, 1989
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Counter revolutionary offense

About this Case

Mr. Abolfazl Purhabib is a victim of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. The majority of the executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO). In addition to the Marxist-Leninist groups that opposed the Islamic Republic, such as the Fadaiyan Khalq (Minority) Organization and the Peykar Organization, members of organizations who were not opposed to the Islamic Republic, including the Tudeh Party and the Fadaiyan Khalq (Majority), were also among the victims of this mass killing.

Additional information about Mr. Purhabib is taken from the book The Tudeh Martyrs, copyright 2001 by The Tudeh Party of Iran Publications. He was a sympathizer of this party. After the Revolution, he joined the Revolutionary Guards, but submitted his resignation before the attacks against the Tudeh Party began.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh's ideology was Marxist-Leninist and it supported policies of the former Soviet Union. The Party played a major role on Iran's political scene until it was banned following the August 19, 1953 coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Tudeh actively supported Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamic Republic calling it anti-imperialist. Although the Tudeh never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of government attacks in 1982 when many members of the Party were imprisoned.

Arrest and detention

The circumstances of this defendant’s arrest and detention are unknown. Mr. Purhabib was arrested in June, 1983.


There is no information about the trial sessions or its location. Also, there is no specific information about the circumstances of similar trials that condemned this thousands of other political prisoners to death in a few-months period. The relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refute the legality of the judicial process that resulted in the executions of thousands 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 at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.


No charge has been publicly levelled against this defendant. In their letters to the Minister of Justice (1988), and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran (February 2003), the victims’ families refer to the accusations charged against the prisoners (accusations that may have led to their execution) as 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, 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 the Tudeh members 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 report of this execution contains no evidence provided against the defendant.


No information is available about the defendant’s defence. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners note that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. Against the assertion that prisoners were associated with guerrilla troops operating near the borders, the families submit the isolation of their relatives from the outside during their detention: "Our children lived in most difficult conditions. Visits were limited to 10 minutes behind a glass divider through a telephone every two weeks. During the past seven years we witnessed that they were denied access to anything that would have allowed them to establish contact outside their prisons' walls." Under such conditions the families roundly reject the authorities’ claim that these prisoners were able to engage with the political groups outside Iran.

It is possible that the prisoners who belonged to the organizations other than the MKO were convicted for being “anti-religious”, defending their opinion, and refusing to repent.


No specific information is available about the defendant’s execution. According to the book The Tudeh Martyrs, Abolfazl Purhabib was executed by a firing squad during the mass killing of political prisoners in the Evin prison on March 28, 1989.

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