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

Gholam Hossein Purshirzad

About

Age: 43
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: June 10, 1992
Location of Killing: Central Prison (Vakilabad Prison), Mashhad, Khorasan\Khorasan-e Razavi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Unknown charge
Age at time of offense: 43

About this Case

Gholam Hossein Purshirzad was a 43-year-old technician with the Mashhad Railway Company. He was a kind and pious man not affiliated with any group or organization.

News of the execution of Mr. Gholam Hossein Purshirzad, along with three other individuals*, was reported by the Kayhan newspaper on June 10, 1992. Further information regarding the execution is taken from statements by individuals close to Mr. Purshirzad with knowledge of the case, submitted to ABF by way of an online electronic form in July-August 2016. Additional information was made available in a report by the Special Representative of the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights published on January 28, 1993. The report is entitled “Final Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, pursuant to Commission resolution 1992/67 of 4 March 1992” (E/CN.4/1993/41). The report contains a letter from the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations dated November 24, 1992 regarding the execution of Mr. Gholam Hossein Purshirzad and three other individuals.

According to those who knew him, he was a kind and pious man not affiliated with any group or organization.

Mr. Gholam Hossein Purshirzad, son of Ali Asghar, was born in Yazd in 1949/1950. He was a diesel repair technician employed by the Mashhad Railway Company and was not affiliated with any group or political party. He was a Shia Muslim, married, and the father of eight children. According to those near him, he was a pious, kind, and likeable man who never troubled others and won over everyone with his positive qualities.

Mr. Purshirzad’s case relates to civil disturbances which took place in Mashhad in the spring of 1992.

Background

The executions in Mashhad, and the May shantytown protests that led to them, were also reported by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International (June 15, 1992) and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (“The Justice System of the Islamic Republic,” May 1993). The Christian Science Monitor described the unrest based on an Associated Press report on June 2, 1992. Additional information was provided to the Boroumand Foundation by a person who resided in Mashhad in 1992.

In the spring of 1992, demonstrators in several Iranian cities including Shiraz, Arak, and Mashhad, protested following official actions which provoked citizens’ anger. These protests, during which several people were killed, led to hundreds of arrests and the execution of at least 8 demonstrators.

The May 30 Mashhad unrest, announced by Tehran Radio, was sparked by the municipal authorities’ attempts to destroy illegally-constructed dwellings and forcibly evict their inhabitants. According to the Associated Press, the government had “sent bulldozers to raze squatter dwellings that house[d] tens of thousands of workers who worked in nearby factories.” Angry shantytown residents demonstrated in the city, setting fire to and destroying government buildings.

The UN Special Rapporteur referred to a report according to which: “On 30 May 1992, during incidents and demonstrations at Mashhad, Khorasan Province, members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of the Pasdaran and other security forces responded with excessive force and opened fire indiscriminately on demonstrators”. Amnesty International also stated that several people were reportedly killed during the protest and 300 hundred were arrested.  A resident of Mashhad testified in an interview with Boroumand Foundation that he had seen a neighbor fleeing the scene of the protests and that the neighbor had reported the fact that security forces were shooting at the crowd.

Less than two weeks after the Mashhad unrest, Amnesty International reported that 4 individuals arrested in connection with the May 30th protests, were sentenced to death and executed. The report, which was based on a June 10 announcement by Tehran radio, stated that a number of people had been sentenced to long-term imprisonment and flogging while others awaited trial. Amnesty also mentioned unconfirmed reports indicating that the true number of executions may have been considerably higher.

Public statements by Iranian judicial and religious authorities following these events indicate a deliberate use of lethal force to control demonstrators. On June 25, the semi-official newspaper Kayhan quoted the recommendations to the military forces by a high ranking cleric, Hojatoleslam Ha’eri, the Friday Prayer Leader in Shiraz: “You must not be patient with the enemies, you must shoot them immediately. ... Islamic verdicts are clear; there is no need for trials and investigations. I told the Prosecutor the same night, after the incident, that it is better to execute a few of them immediately, in different areas of the city, than to execute ten of them tomorrow” (Lawyers Committee report). The official news agency IRNA reported the orders of the higher authority: “Seek out troublemakers and destroy them like weeds” (Lawyers Committee report). Amnesty International refers to a statement of the Head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, (quoted by Reuters on 1 June 1992) announcing an extraordinary procedure so that: “... swift and decisive justice would be meted out to rioters...” in Mashhad.

Human rights organizations condemned the Iranian government’s heavy-handed treatment of the protesters and its disregard for internationally recognized standards of fairness in the judicial process that led to the execution of Mr. Gholam Hossein Purshirzad and others ten days after the riots. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights noted that: “Independent citizens feel concerned because they are unable to foresee the reactions of the authorities to situations of tension or public disturbance. The recent case of the demonstrations in Mashad, Shiraz and other cities has been expressive of this matter. What began as a municipal incident blew up into a major event because the authorities were not prepared to restore order through the use of non-lethal instruments”.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Gholam Hossein Purshirzad was taken into custody the evening of May 30, 1992, beside the Shohda Freeway near Mashhad Police Station 4. Available information indicates a group of Basij members threw a blanket over his head before arresting him. Mr. Purshirzad’s family was informed of his arrest the following day by way of a phone call with the court. Mr. Purshirzad was held for ten days, over the course of which prison authorities did not permit him to meet with or phone his family. The court also prevented his family from hiring a lawyer.

Trial

The Mashhad Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal detained and tried Mr. Purshirzad in the space of ten days. No information is available regarding the details of trial proceedings.

Charges

According to the Kayhan newspaper report, Mr. Purshirzad’s charges were announced as “sewing fear and panic among the populace and depriving their freedom and security while armed, and destruction and arson of government facilities.” According to the same source, he was also “the leader and inciter” of those who perpetrated such actions.

In its November 24 letter to the UN, the Iranian government accused Mr. Purshirzad of having a record of prior convictions. The letter also charged him with “murder, looting, and assault”. However, it provided no specific information on the date, victims, or circumstances of the alleged murder.

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic’s authorities have brought trumped-up charges against their political opponents and executed them for drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences. Each year, Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

The letter from the Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations dated November 24, 1992 stated that Mr. Purshirzad and three others confessed to murder, looting, and assault.

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress. Human rights organizations have also pointed to the pattern of retracted confessions by those prisoners who are freed.

Defense

According to statements made by informed sources familiar with Mr. Purshirzad, he had no role in the urban unrest in Mashhad and had been arrested by accident. These individuals also reject the criminal background and prior conviction that were attributed to Mr. Purshirzad.

No information is available regarding Mr. Purshirzad’s court defense.

Judgment

The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Mashhad sentenced Mr. Purshirzad to death. The sentence was approved by a delegation of ad hoc judges dispatched by the Head of the Judiciary to ensure the swift trial of those arrested in the protest.

Existing information indicates that Mr. Purshirzad was hanged on August 11, 1992 in Mashhad Prison. Before his execution, he wrote a brief will by hand and said his goodbyes to family.

The Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations confirmed the speedy nature of the proceedings: “Because of public demand for immediate punishment [of the accused], a Special Delegation was dispatched to Khorasan Province by the Supreme Judicial Council to supervise court proceedings; consequently the verdict for their execution was confirmed by the High Authorities and carried out accordingly.”

Following the execution, Mr. Purshirzad’s body was turned over to his family for burial.  He was interred in Mashhad’s Khajeh Abasalt cemetery in accordance with his will.

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* Messers: Javad Ganji Khanlu, Hamid Javid, Ali Sadeqi

 

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