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

Hushang Qorbannejad

About

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

Case

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

About this Case

Mr. Hushang Qorbannejad was a victim in the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. The majority of the executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO). 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. Hushang Qorbannejad is taken from the book The Martyrs of the Tudeh Party of Iran by the Tudeh Party Publications. He was in the military and a member of the Tudeh Party. During the previous regime, in 1954, he was arrested along with 450 other military personnel and spent 13 years in prison. The above source does not provide information about his activities after the Islamic Revolution.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh ideology was Marxist-Leninist and 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 details of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known. Mr. Hushang Qorbannejad was arrested during May 1983. He was severely tortured. According to the above book, he wrote in a letter dated July 23, 1987 to the Tehran Public Prosecutor of the Islamic Revolution: “I have been in various prisons in Tehran for five years… I have been tortured physically and mentally by prison officials.” He continued with the description of the day that all prisoners were blindfolded and beaten by the officials: “When it was my turn, Mr. Lashgari first hit me on my stomach then on my side, then I fell over and passed out. Shortly afterwards, I was hit with such a hard blow to my forehead, that to this day, I have a mark near the corner of my eye. When I gained consciousness, I was taken to the third floor. On my way, I was battered by every guard I passed.

“When I reached the first floor, the guard known as Nader, not only hit me with by his fist, but also he kicked me, then tried to strangle me and his finger marks are still evident. My throat remains so damaged that I have great difficulty eating. The guards lined us up next to the wall and hit us with cables, hoses, and everything that they could get their hands on. My body is covered with swollen bruises. After being tortured and humiliated, the guards took us to the yard where they kicked and punched us. I must add that during my 13 long years of imprisonment in the Shah’s prisons, I have never witnessed such torture.”

Trial

Mr. Hushang Qorbannejad was tried and condemned to life imprisonment. Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Qorbannejad and thousands of other individuals in 1988 are not known. According to existing information, there was no official trial with the presence of an attorney and prosecutor. 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 charge was ever 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 accusations against the prisoners 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 from the Leader of the Islamic Republic, reproduced in the memoirs of his designated successor Ayatollah Montazeri, corroborates the reported claims regarding the charges against the executed prisoners. In this edict, Ayatollah Khomeini refers to the Mojahedin members as “hypocrites” who do not believe in Islam and who “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.

Defense

In their open letter, the families of the prisoners noted that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. Against the assertion that prisoners were associated with guerrilla forces operating near the borders, the families submit the isolation of their relatives from the outside during their detention: “Our children lived under most difficult conditions. All visits were limited to 10 minutes behind a glass divider through a telephone every two weeks. We witnessed, over 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 very possible that prisoners who were members of organizations other than the MKO were charged for being “anti religious” and were condemned for insisting on their beliefs.

Judgment

No specific information is available about the execution sentence. Mr. Hushang Qorbannejad was hanged during the mass killings of political prisoners at Gohardasht Prison in September 1988.

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