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

Razieh Latifpur

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: 1988
Location: Central Prison (Adelabad), Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Unspecified counter-revolutionary offense

About this Case

The information about Ms. Razieh Latifpur, daughter of Mohammad, was gathered from an electronic form sent to the Boroumand Foundation by a person familiar with this case. She is also one of 1,000 people identified in a UN Human Rights Commission’s Special Representative’s Report published on January 26, 1989. The Boroumand Foundation has collected additional information regarding the 1988 massacre from the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports from the Human Rights organizations, interviews with the witnesses and victims’ families as well as from the Bidaran website. *

According to the information sent to the Boroumand Foundation, Ms. Razieh Latifpur was born in Abadeh in 1959. She was single, a geography student at Tehran University, and a sympathizer of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. After the universities were shut down during the Cultural Revolution, she went underground. Her family was a part of the Qashqa’i tribe and her brother was killed during the Iran – Iraq war in 1983. She was a kind and honest person who loved to read books. 

The Cultural Revolution began after Ayatollah Khomeini gave a speech in March 1980 and ordered that universities be purged of all those who opposed his regime and be transformed into “learning environments”(as opposed to political forums) where “an all-Islamic curriculum” would be taught. The first wave of violence began on April 15,1980 during a speech by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a member of the Council of the Islamic Revolution and Minister of Interior, at the University of Tabriz.  Following the speech, students supporting the regime took control of the University’s central building and demanded that the “university be purged” from “pro-Shah elements and other sellouts.”

On April 18, the Council of the Islamic Revolution issued a communiqué accusing political groups of converting higher education institutions into “headquarters of discordant political activities” and naming them as obstacles to the radical transformation of the universities. The communiqué gave these groups three days, Saturday April 19 to Monday April 21, to shut down their activities in the universities. The Council stressed that the decision included libraries along with activities related to arts and sports. Political groups, which had recruited members and had strong support in the universities, refused to evacuate. 

Before the Council’s deadline, serious clashes took place between leftist groups and Islamist Associations, the latter at times supported by security forces and paramilitary groups.  These clashes, which peaked at the end of the three-day deadline, resulted in the deaths of several people and the wounding of hundreds of others on university campuses around the country.

On April 21, the Islamic Republic authorities announced the victory of the Cultural Revolution and the closure of all universities in order to Islamicize the curricula. The universities remained closed for two years. One of the outcomes of the Cultural Revolution was the purging of many university professors and students based on their political beliefs.

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis, the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and recruit new members based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and infiltration of governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda.  During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders. **

Arrest and Detention

According to the information sent to the Boroumand Foundation, Ms. Razieh Latifpur was arrested on a city bus on a summer’s day in 1983. She was on her way home when identified by an ex-coworker who worked with the regime. She was transferred to the Evin prison. Her family was not informed for several months. Ms. Latifpur was mostly detained at Section Six of the Evin prison until she was transferred to the Adelabad prison in Shiraz in 1986. She was also detained in Qezelhesar prison for awhile. She spent her last few months at the Revolutionary Court’s and the Revolutionary Guards’ prisons. Because of her family’s efforts, she was able to have some visitations in these prisons; however, she could not speak freely. According to her younger sister, during her last visitation the right side of Ms. Latifpur’s face including her eye was bruised, her lips were cut and swollen, and her teeth were broken. She could only say that they kicked her. She could only talk about what happened to her during two weeks leave that she got in her last few months. She talked about her physical and psychological torture in prison especially during the first few months after her arrest. She had been mostly in solitary confinement for the first six months and, as a result, lost over 20 kilograms weight. She could not walk, only crawled, and almost lost her vision. Ms. Latifpur had the option to escape during her leave from prison; however, she chose to return to prison because of her beliefs and was not heard from since.   

Trial

According to the information sent to the Boroumand Foundation, Ms. Razieh Latifpur was condemned to six years imprisonment during her primary trial. According to the testimonies of some of the political prisoners who were tried during the executions of the summer of 1988 in some of the prisons, the trials took place in a room in the prison after a few weeks of isolation during which prisoners were deprived of visitation, television and radio broadcasts, and outdoor time. In August and September, a three-member delegation composed of the public prosecutor, a religious judge, and a representative of the Ministry of Information asked prisoners questions about their views on Mojahedin, whether they would renounce their beliefs and if they were ready to cooperate against the Mojahedin.

Based on what the answers were, the prisoners would have been charged with “counter revolutionary, anti-religion and anti-Islam” or “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders” and would be sentenced to death.   The authorities never informed prisoners about the delegation’s purpose and the serious implications of their responses. According to survivors, during the summer of 1988 a large number of prisoners sympathizing with the Mojahedin or Leftist groups were executed for not recanting their beliefs. 

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. 

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 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 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

According to the information sent to the Boroumand Foundation, during her two weeks leave from prison, Ms. Razieh Latifpur told her family that some of her ex-comrades who cooperated with the regime, had provided the video and tape of her speech at Emam Square in Abadeh. They also provided documents and names of their comrades to security forces causing many arrests and deaths.  

Defense

No information is available on Ms. Razieh Latifpur’s defense before the three-member committee. According to the information sent to the Boroumand Foundation, she was denied access to an attorney. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners noted 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 prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone, from behind the 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

Ms. Razieh Latifpur was executed during the mass killings of political prisoners at the Adelabad prison in Shiraz in 1988 two months before completing her sentence. Her family was not informed for awhile until authorities summoned her brother and told him of her execution. They warned the family against holding memorial ceremonies. They promised to deliver the body; however, they did not and gave the family an address of a grave at Darolrahmeh cemetery in Shiraz as Ms. Latifpur’s burial location and warned them not to change anything, exhume, or build a mausoleum. Most of her hand writings, books, and belongings were confiscated in prison. Details regarding the execution sentence are not available. 

_________________________  

*“Crime Against Humanity” documents the 1988-1989 mass execution of political prisoners in Iran. The book was published by the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in 2001. The UN Human Rights Commission’s Special Representative’s Report published in January 26, 1989 contains a list of 1000 people who were executed in Iran in 1988. The report of “Names and particulars of persons allegedly executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran during the period July-December 1988,” specifies that although 1000 names are mentioned, “in all probability” there were several thousand victims. “Most of the alleged victims were members of the Mojahedin. However, members of the Tudeh Party, People’s Fedaiyan Organization, Rah-e Kargar, and Komala Organization and 11 mollahs were also said to be among the alleged victims.”  

**The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’ efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the regime called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime. 

In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq war. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the  Forugh Javidan Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country.  

In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.

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