Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Mohammad Ali Tutunchian


Age: 46
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: August 11, 1988
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam

About this Case

Information about Mr. Mohammad Ali Tutunchian has been sent to Omid via an electronic form. Mr. Tutunchian is one of 1000 people identified in a UN Human Rights Commission’s Special Representative’s Report, “Names and particulars of persons allegedly executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran during the period July-December 1988,” published January 26, 1989. His name is also mentioned in a booked published by the Mojahedin Khalq Organization titled Crime Against Humanity, which documents the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners.

According to available information, he was born on March 30, 1952 into a religion family in Hamedan. After his graduation from high school, he entered the education college, majoring in applied sciences. In 1964, he was dismissed from college due to his political activities opposing the monarchy. One year later, he was admitted to the social science department of Tehran University. He continued his political activities, which resulted in his arrest and detention by Savak in 1967. He was released from prison in January 1980 with the last group of political prisoners. He then began his political activities against the Islamic Republic. He was affiliated with the Mojahedin Khalq Organization.

Arrest and detention

According to the electronic form, he was arrested in the morning of December 15, 1982. The sender of the form states the reasons invoked by authorities carrying out the arrest to be: “membership of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, arrest under the Shah regime, and escape from prison of the Islamic Republic in 1981.” No further information is available about the reasons that led to his arrest. According to the same source, he was under interrogation and torture for 18 months. His locations of detention were Evin and Qezelhesar prisons. He was denied the right to be represented by an attorney.


According to the sender of the form, Mr. Tutunchian was tried in Evin prison. This trial, which lasted for 7 minutes, condemned him to 10 years imprisonment.

Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Tutunchian 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.


According to the available information, his first Trial charged Mr. Tutunchian with “membership of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization”. The form also mentions “imprisonment under the Shah regime”. No other information is available about the charges at the first trial.

Whether or not other charges led to the execution sentence is not known. 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

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


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


According to the electronic form, after the trial, which condemned Mr. Mohammad Ali Tutunchian to death, he was held in solitary confinement for two days. He was executed with a group of Mojahedin supporters. According to the book Crime Against Humanity he was hanged on August 11, 1988.

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