Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Abolhasan Khatib


Age: 39
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: September, 1988
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Apostasy

About this Case

Mr. Abolhasan Khatib is one of the victims 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 members of Marxist-Leninist organizations opposed to the Islamic Republic, activists of organizations such as the Tudeh Party and the Fedaiyan Khalq (Majority) that were not against the Islamic Republic, were also among the victims of these mass killings.

The information about Mr. Khatib is taken from the book The Tudeh Martyrs, copyright 2001 by The Tudeh Party of Iran publications. He was born in Esfahan and had a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering from Tehran University. During the previous regime, he was arrested in a student demonstration and condemned to two years imprisonment. After his release, he completed his education and joined the Fedayian Khalq Organization. He left the organization and joined the Tudeh Party. After the Revolution, he continued his activities in the city of Esfahan. In 1980, he became the Tudeh Party’s candidate for the parliament. He was an advisor to the Central Committee of the Tudeh Party.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh's ideology was Marxist-Leninist and it supported the former Soviet Union's policies. 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 Tudeh 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 its attacks from 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 unknown. Mr. Khatib was arrested in Esfahan in the winter 1982 and was transferred to the Evin prison in Tehran. He was tortured severely and according to his prisonmate quoted in the Tudeh Martyrs book, "they hanged him from his leg; his vision was damaged; his stomach was in a bad shape and he suffered from spleen problems….After five years, he was still in solitary confinement and was allowed only half an hour of fresh air each day."


Mr. Khatib was tried and condemned to life imprisonment. There is no information about the trial. Also, there is no specific information about the circumstances of such trials that condemned this defendant and thousands of other political prisoners to death in a few months period.

The relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refuted 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 state 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 was publicly levelled against the defendant. 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, 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 PMOI's 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.


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. We witnessed, over the past seven years, that they were denied access to anything that would have allowed them to establish contacts outside their prisons' walls." Under such conditions the families reject the claim of the authorities that these prisoners were able to engage with the political groups outside Iran.

It is possible that the prisoners who were members of organizations other than the MKO were charge for being "anti religious" and were condemned for insisting on their beliefs.


No specific information is available about the defendant’s execution. Mr. Khatib was hanged during the mass killings of political prisoners in the Evin prison in September of 1988.

According to the book The Tudeh Martyrs, in 1985, in the first letter that allowed to write from prison, he wrote to his daughters: "My dear daughters, Azarnush and Alaleh, I love you like my soul. But, I am away from you now. You'll grow up and will find out why they took your dad. Mommy will tell you. Your father wishes for every child in Iran to laugh and play and go to school. Your dad wishes that no child should go to bed hungry." In his fifth year of detention, he wrote to his wife: "My wife, I'm okay. I am the same husband and friend that I had been five years ago only filled with more passion and hope. I have mostly been in solitary confinement, but last week I was transferred to a locked room."

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