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

Ya'qub Ma'sumi

About

Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim

Case

Date of Killing: January 12, 1980
Location of Killing: Tabriz Prison, Tabriz, Azarbaijan-e Sharqi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Sedition and/ or threat to public security; Armed rebellion against the Islamic Republic; Corruption on earth

About this Case

News of the execution of Mr. Ya’qub Ma’sumi, son of Yusef, along with 11 other individuals was published by numerous sources, including Ettela’at and Kayhan newspaper (archives) on January 12, 1980. Additional information about this case was obtained from Abdrorrahman Boroumand Center’s research.

Mr. Ma’sumi was a member of the Muslim People's Republic Party. According to available information, his case was related to a charge of Efsad fel-Arz (“Spreading corruption on Earth”).

The Muslim People's Republic Party

The Muslim People's Republic Party (MPRP), more commonly known as the Moslem People’s Party, was founded in March 1979 with the blessing and support of the influential Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari. The aim of the MPRP’s founding members, which included Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s son, Hassan, was to bring together more enlightened Muslim forces and work towards an ideal progressive society. Its guiding principles were written with an eye to ensuring the guidance of Islam in all aspects of life, the immutable role of citizens’ voices in shaping and running their own government, and the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic on the global stage.[1] The party was based in Tabriz and had a strong and diverse following in Western and Eastern Azerbaijan, as well as in cities such as Qom, Tehran, Ardebil and Mashhad.[2]

The MPRP called on its members to vote yes in the March 1979 Referendum to establish an Islamic Republic, but criticized the absence of the rule of law and abuses of power by some of Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters. Chief among the galvanizing forces for the party of Shariatmadari’s followers was opposition to the concept of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the theologian), which, if written into the constitution, would place ultimate executive power in the hands of the Supreme Leader.  Though some of the party’s founding members would resign after its decision to boycott the August 1979 election of the Assembly of Constitutional Experts – a cleric-contingent governing body supplanting the anticipated, more representative constitutive assembly – the MPRP movement maintained the solidarity and numbers necessary to make heard their demands of increased local autonomy in Azerbaijan, popular sovereignty, and corresponding revisions to the constitution.  In December of 1979, the party boycotted the referendum on the draft constitution, and continued after the referendum to advocate for changes to key constitutional articles.

Starting in December of 1979 and for close to six weeks, demonstrations in support of the MPIRP and Ayatollah Shariatmadari clashed with Ayatollah Khomeini’s followers and the provisional government, as the latter moved swiftly to quash the former’s influence across Iran. Due to its history of embattled minority rights, Azerbaijan was a particular hotspot for escalating conflicts over constitutional representation. Ayatollah Shariatmadari had strong support among armed forces there, and MPRP was demanding that he vet the nominations of local officials. Nonetheless, the MPIRP’s influence was far from localized, and Ayatollah Khomeini’s cohort would aggressively suppress it. A convergence of pro-Shariatmadari demonstrators and pro-Khomeini counter protesters outside Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s house in Qom on December 5 ended in the shooting death of one of Shariatmadari’s guards; systematic censorship of Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s statements in the media led to MPRP takeovers of government buildings and the National Broadcasting station in Tabriz December 6 - 11, amid clashes that killed and wounded several people. Widespread unrest continued as Ayatollah Khomeini and the Revolutionary Council continued to ignore MPRP demands. By January of 1980, government forces had managed to crush the swell of the MPRP, killing at least 20 and injuring hundreds in the process The party was banned and scores of its members executed, imprisoned, or forced into exile.[3]

Arrest and detention

Mr. Ma’sumi was arrested on the night of January 11, 1980, in the city of Tabriz’ Monajem Square.

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and [the city of] Tabriz Revolution Committees Central Council forces mounted an armed attack on the building housing the Moslem People’s Party’s Tabriz Branch, located at Monajem Square, engaged the Party members in an altercation, and arrested Mr. Ma’sumi and 11 other members. (Ettela’at and Kayhan newspapers, January 12, 1980).

There is no information regarding specific details of his arrest.

Trial

Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Court tried Mr. Ma’sumi and 11 other defendants of the case in less than three hours the same night they were arrested. (Ettela’at and Kayhan newspapers, January 12, 1980).

There is no information regarding specific details of the trial. 

Charges 

According to available information, Mr. Ma’sumi was charged with “creating fear and apprehension and mayhem among the populace, committing arson, holding a club in his hand (insinuating that he was a hoodlum), engaging in armed uprising against the Islamic regime and the Koran, creating a lack of security, committing murder and torture of the Moslem populace”. (Ettela’at and Kayhan newspapers, January 12, 1980).

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.   

Evidence of guilt

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

Defense

There is no information regarding specific details of Mr. Ma’sumi’s defense, and it is not clear if he was afforded the right to have an attorney. According to published information, the time elapsed between the arrest and the issuance of a sentence for the defendants in this case was outside the usual norms and was less than three hours.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Ya'qub Ma'sumi’s Case

We can observe in this case that the defendants were arrested on January 11, 1980, and executed on January 12, [that is, a day later]. According to published reports, the arrestees were tried for three hours, and [promptly] sentenced to death. In the early days of the Revolution, Shari’a courts did not consider themselves bound by or obligated to observe substantive and procedural rules, and issued guilty sentences outside the accepted legal norms and principles. Even so, however, trying 12 people on the charge of Moharebeh (“waging war against Allah”) and ultimately sentencing them to death in just three hours cannot in any way be in conformity with any legal or religious norms; there is not enough time to even question the defendants in such a short period. One cannot, therefore, consider the trial of these individuals to have been a lawful one or even one in accordance with the tenets of Shari’ law. Executing these defendants was a form of arbitrary and extrajudicial killing. It was also stated [in the record] that the charges against these individuals consisted of creating fear and apprehension in and wreaking havoc on the populace, arson, hooliganism, armed uprising against the Islamic regime and the Koran, creating insecurity, killing and torturing Moslems, Moharebeh with Allah and Allah’s messenger, and Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”). These charges were general and ambiguous in nature, and not only were they not provided for [and criminalized] in Iranian laws and regulations, but they were not even mentioned and addressed in such a form in Shari’a rules. In order to convict an individual of Moharebeh, it must be shown that public safety and security has been jeopardized as a result of said individual’s armed action. Additionally, the ways to prove the commission of Moharebeh consist specifically of testimony by just witnesses and/or the defendant’s confession. It is clear that the trial of these individuals took place in violation of the procedure necessary to prove a case based on Shari’a law. One cannot deny that these individuals were executed solely for the purpose of silencing and suppressing Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s supporters, and in order to take control of the city [of Tabriz].

Judgment

Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Court tried Mr. Ya’qub Ma’sumi and the other defendants in the case on the charge of Efsad fel-Arz (“Spreading corruption on Earth”) the same night they were arrested, and sentenced them to death. (Ettela’at and Kayhan newspapers, January 12, 1980).

At 8 o’clock in the morning of January 12, 1980, Mr. Ma’sumi and 11 other individuals were executed by a firing squad in the Tabriz Police Prison yard (Ettela’at newspaper, January 12, 1980). There is no information regarding details of how the death sentence was implemented.

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* Habibollah Abedi, Parviz Azadifar, Habib Baqeri Tofiqi, Mohammad Davaranpur, Mahmud Farid Sofiani, Hassan Abbassian, Moharam Ali Moradi, Musa Purdadash, Asgar Qasemi Lor, Ya'qub Qezeli, and Farid Soltan Alizadeh.
[1] The MPRP stressed the need for political, economic, and ideological independence from the West and the East. It called for a less centralized government, increased autonomy for minorities, major reforms of Iran’s economy prioritizing the army and education system, and the eradication of corruption and poverty. It called for better coordination between the army and other Muslim forces whose main and only task it viewed to be defense of Iran’s borders. In foreign policy, the MPRP called for mutually respectful relations with all friendly governments and collaboration with Muslim countries. https://andisheh-haghdar.blogspot.com/2020/06/blog-post.html
[2] https://andisheh-haghdar.blogspot.com/2020/06/blog-post.html
[3] Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who, according to his son, had called on his followers to avoid tensions and cease protesting in order to avoid bloodshed, saw his activities restricted once the Revolutionary Council had successfully consolidated its hold. He was eventually defrocked and put under house arrest in April 1982. While under house arrest, he was denied access to a hospital for critical treatment of cancer which metastasized and took his life in 1986.

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