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

Faramarz Tolu'i Semnani

About

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

Case

Date of Killing: January 25, 1983
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Apostasy; War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Actively opposing the Islamic Republic

About this Case

Before the Revolution, he made radical radio outside the country for broadcast within.  His advanced degree was earned in California, ahead of an activist return to Tehran.

The execution of Mr. Tolu’i Semnani, along with 21 others, was reported in the Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, which published the official communiqué of the public relations of the Islamic Revolution’s Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran on January 27, 1983. The information about his charges and defense was published in the same newspaper on January 10, 1983. Additional information from this case was gathered through interviews (April 18, 2006 and June 2, 2006) with persons familiar with Mr. Tolu’i Semnani’s case, who have asked to remain anonymous.

Mr. Tolu’i Semnani, a father of two, had obtained a masters degree from University of California, Berkley in electrical engineering. During his college years, he became involved with the political organization, Ettehadieh Komonist-ha (The Union of Communists of Iran). He excelled in his studies (writing an article for the scientific journal Electrical) and was known to be a talented political recruiter. Mr. Tolu’i Semanani was an active member of the Ettehadieh and spent time in the early 1970s in the Middle East preparing radio programs that were broadcast in Iran. In the fall of 1978, he returned to Iran with his wife and continued to dedicate himself to full-time political activism.

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 and 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 believing in the armed movement and the other opposing it. Mr. Tolu’i Semnani belonged to the latter group.

In the winter of 1982, armed members of the Ettehadieh hid in a forest in the North of Iran (Jangal in Farsi) outside the city of Amol. This group, also known as the Jangal group, was involved in several clashes with the Revolutionary guards and ultimately, on January 26, attacked the city of Amol hoping to generate a general uprising. The attempt to seize Amol failed. It is reported that a number of the group’s members, revolutionary guards, and civilians were killed during the Amol clash. Subsequently, members of the Ettehadieh, including those who opposed the Amol uprising, were arrested and tried for belonging to the organization and for having participated in the Amol clash Mr. Tolu’i’s wife, also an activist in the group, was forced to flee the country with her toddler daughter while pregnant. His son was born after his execution.

 

Arrest and detention

According to the interviewees, the defendant was arrested in July 1982, along with many other members of the Ettehadieh Komonist-ha at a meeting he had attended for the organization. The last time his family saw him before his arrest was at 9:00 am. The authorities did not inform the family of the place of his detention. It became known that he was held at the Evin Prison, when the authorities returned him to his parents’ house that night to search for incriminating documents against him. The revolutionary guards took family documents and antique pieces from the house that they never returned.

The arrest of Mr. Tolu’i Semnani, along with other members of the Ettehadieh, was announced on the radio in August 1982. The broadcast did not specify the date of his arrest. While his family was not aware of whether he was tortured or not, they were informed that a member of his political group had died under torture.

The defendant was allowed visitation for the first time in November 1982, four months after his arrest. His father was given permission to visit him twice. During one of those visit he warned his father, “Leave the country. We are done for!” The visits were never held privately and all the detainees were kept in one room, separated from their families by a screen.

Trial

Based on the available information, 28 or 30 individuals were tried together between January 9 and 15, 1983. The trial was held at an auditorium at the Evin Prison in Tehran. The family was not aware of the intention of the government to try the defendant until the morning of the trial. Mr. Tolu’i Semnani was not given access to an attorney or the file containing the evidence against him, and he was not given the opportunity to procure witnesses. One of the interviewees recalls seeing his picture in the newspapers: “he had lost a bit of hair and had very sad face.”

At the day of his trial, all around the courtroom, were banners reading “Death to Ettehadiyeh Komonist-ha” and “Death to the Corruptors on Earth.” The family of those who were reportedly killed in Amol also chanted these slogans during the proceedings. The parents of the accused were allowed in court on the last day of the proceedings to say “Goodbye.” The Prosecutor’s communiqué also specifies that during the trial the relatives of the “martyrs of Amol” were shouting slogans against communists and hypocrites to divulge their lies.”

Charges

According the official communiqué, Mr. Tolu’i Semnani’s charges were read to him at his trial by the prosecutor, Seyed Asadollah Lajevardi. Mr. Tolu’i Semnani’s charges were read as follows: “being a member and the Head of the Central Committee of the Union of Communists of Iran, participating in the organizational conventions of the Union in order to determine the organization’s general policy about methods of fighting against the Islamic Republic of Iran, being a member of the Organization’s Committee in Tehran and having contacts with Tolid Daru Pharmaceutical Company, Meli Shoes Company and Minoo Company, being a member of the Permanent Committee, being in charge of internal communications of the organization; i.e., contacting the messenger- through whom he could contact provinces all over the country, Having contacts with the financial administrator of the organization and delivering 8 million rials from the southern branch of the organization to the financial administrator. It should be mentioned that this amount of money was stolen from the Agriculture Bank in Khuzestan by some mercenaries of this grouplet and was used as a loan for the poor farmers of that region.

The charges also related to the defendant’s political activity in the Ettehadieh and his ideology: “he was also the organization’s representative in the Vahdat Conference whose objective was harmonizing different grouplets known as ‘the Third Line’ to establish a unified communist party for fighting against the Islamic Republic.” According to theProsecutor, “Faramarz Tolu’i Semnani was among the old experienced Marxist cadres who had lived in America for 15 years and had a special role in leading the Iranian youth astray. He was the General Secretary of the Confederation [of the Iranian Students] over a period of time. He returned to Iran after the victory of the revolution and had key responsibilities in the atheist Union of Communists of Iran (Sarbedaran-e Jangal) before he was arrested.” The Prosecutor continued: “Considering his significant active role in that organization, his culpability is out of question to Tehran’s Public Prosecutor Office. Therefore, The Prosecution Office is asking the court to sentence this individual to the maximum penalty possible.”

Evidence of guilt

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

Defense

In his defense, reported in the Jomhuri Eslami daily, Mr. Tolu’i Semnani's denied having participated in the attack of Amol : “I was a member of the Permanent Committee of the Ettehadieh Komonist-ha and in charge of the internal communications of the organization but I was fired from the committee because of objecting to the armed uprising which was at first supposed to be carried out in Tehran and then in Amol…The Ettehadieh Komonist-ha was in favor of the leadership of the Imam but was against the Islamic Revolution…”

Based on one the information available through the interviews, Mr. Tolu’i Semnani had opposed the Jangal operation. He did not believe in guerrilla warfare, and the fact that a group of elite soldiers could lead to a revolution that overthrew the existing government.

Judgment

The 1st division of the Islamic Revolutionary Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran sentenced Mr. Tolu’i Semnani to death. The sentence was carried out at 9 pm.

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