Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Tahmineh Sotudeh


Age: 25
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: August, 1988
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Charges: Counter revolutionary offense

About this Case

Ms. Tahmineh Sotudeh is one of 1,000 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 in 1988 during the period July-December," published January 26, 1989. The report specifies that although 1,000 names are mentioned, "in all probability" there were several thousand victims. "Most of the alleged victims were members of the Mojahedin (MKO). However, members of the Tudeh Party, People's Fedaiyan Organization, Rahe Kargar, and Komala Organization along with 11 mollahs were also said to be among the alleged victims."

Ms. Tahmineh Sotudeh is listed among 3,208 members and sympathizers of the People's Mojahedin of Iran Organization (PMIO) whose execution was reported by the organization in a book entitled Crime Against Humanity. This book documents the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners. Additional information was drawn from the Bidaran website and the PMIO website. He was a worker and a sympathizer of the MKO.

Arrest and detention

The circumstances of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known. According to the MKO website, Ms. Tahmineh Sotudeh was arrested during the demonstration on June 20, 1981. She was taken to Evin Prison.

The demonstration of June 20, 1981, took place in protest against the parliament's impeachment of President Banisadr and the Islamic Republic's systematic policy of excluding the MKO from the country's political scene, the refusal of Ayatollah Khomeini to meet with MKO leaders and his insistence to disarm them. Until that day, the MKO had supported the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and agreed to operate within the framework of the new political system. However, on June 20, 1981, the MKO officially changed its policy and tried to overthrow the regime by organizing mass demonstrations all over the country. These demonstrations, which were severely suppressed by the government, resulted in the killing of dozens of demonstrators. Afterwards there was a wave of mass arrests and executions by both the Revolutionary Guards and para-military forces that targeted all opposition groups. The massive repression, unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic, legitimized the months-old state harassment and suppression of dissidents resulting in the banning of all forms of independent political dissent.


Ms. Tahmineh Sotudeh was tried and condemned to prison. There is no information about this trial, just as there is no specific information about any such trials that condemned thousands of political prisoners to death in a few months period. 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 at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.


No charge was ever publicly levelled 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 accusations against the prisoners 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 from the Leader of the Islamic Republic, 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 PMIO's members 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.

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 contains no evidence provided against the defendant.


No information is available about the defendant’s defense. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners note that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. Against the assertion that prisoners were associated with guerrilla forces operating near the borders, the families point to the isolation of their relatives from the outside during their detention: "Our children lived in most difficult conditions. All visits were limited to 10 minutes behind a glass divider through a telephone every two weeks. Over seven years we witnessed that they were denied access to anything that would have allowed them to establish contacts outside their prison walls." Under such conditions the families roundly reject the government’s claim that these prisoners were able to engage with the political groups outside Iran.


No specific information is available about the defendant’s execution. According to the MKO website, Ms. Tahmineh Sotudeh was hanged during the mass killings of the political prisoners during August 1988. In the UN special report, her execution date is cited as September 30, 1988.

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