Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Qorban Ali Shokri


Age: 38
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: August, 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. Qorban Ali Shokri 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 Fadaiyan Khalq (Minority) and the Peykar Organization, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and the Fadaiyan 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 regarding Mr. Shokri has been gathered from an interview with his wife. Born in Arasbaran (East Azarbaijan province), he was married and had one child. He was a student and a teacher and a member of the Ettehadieh Komonist-ha. His wife and son, who were arrested at the same time as he, were imprisoned for more than four years.

The Ettehadieh Komonist-ha was created by exiled opponents of the Pahlavi regime who mostly belonged to the Student Confederation. They followed the teachings of Mao Tse-Tung but did not believe in guerilla warfare. The group became marked by ideological divides during the periods preceding and following the 1979 revolution which caused it to split into several factions. One of the most important rifts was triggered by the decision by a number of members to take up arms and take over a city in Iran. The uprising plan, devised in the midst of an active and violent anti-communist campaign by the revolutionary Islamic government, split the Ettehadieh in two factions: one believed in the armed movement and the other opposed it.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Shokri was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards outside his residence in August of 1985. He was transferred to Evin prison. According to his wife, “The Revolutionary Guards came to our house and told us that he was arrested for drug related charges. I was home with my newborn baby and my cousin. They took us to Evin prison as well.” According to the interviewee, they were arrested with verbal abuse, and threatened not to say anything to their neighbors.

Mr. Shokri’s wife had had no news of him for five months, at which time they were both tried the same day, and were allowed a visit after the trial. They had some visits, conducted from behind a glass divider, and then regular visits in the presence of a guard, sitting between them, every two weeks. During their last visit, a week before Mr. Shokri’s execution, he told his wife that “we must get out somehow and this place is not suitable to stay.” Mr. Shokri was imprisoned for three years.

According to his wife, one day when she was sitting with her child waiting in the hallway to be interrogated, she saw her husband from the corner of her blindfold being helped by a man and the interrogator told the man, “see if his rib is broken, take him to the doctor.” It was evident to her that Mr. Shokri had been severely tortured.


Mr. Shokri, after a few minutes trial that took place in the winter of 1986 in Evin prison, was condemned to five years imprisonment. Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Shokri 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 when they were retried and 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.


No charge has been leveled publicly 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, 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 the 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.

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant.


Mr. Shokri was denied the right to have an attorney. In their open letter, the families of the victims of the 1988 massacre 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 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.”


Details regarding his sentence of execution are not known. Mr. Shokri was hanged in Evin prison during the mass execution of political prisoners in August of 1988. Years later, when his death certificate was given to his family members, it stated “natural death” as the cause and August 1988 as the date of death.

According to Mr. Shokri’s wife, “after the mass killings of 1988, they gradually informed the families. However, I had no news from him. I wrote to the prison officials several times in order to find out my husband’s whereabouts. The last time, I wrote to the Deputy Head of the prison and asked him to call me. He summoned me and asked, ‘What is it?’ I said, ‘I want my husband’s will.’ He was surprised and told me to go to the office responsible for the execution of court’s verdicts. He told me, if there was a will, it would be there. I lost my mind. I began yelling. The Deputy Head of the prison said nothing and simply stood there silently. I yelled, ‘Why did you kill him?’ he said nothing. I had no control over myself. It was strange that he didn’t say anything. He was silent for some time and then he repeated I should go to that same office. I got out. I talked to nobody when I returned to my cell. I looked for a red dress among my clothes. I wanted to announce his death by wearing red. I found nothing but a red scarf. I wore it on my head and walked all day in the hallway of my cell. I talked to nobody and just walked.”

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