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

Mehrangiz Mohammad-Rahimi

About

Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single

Case

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

About this Case

Friends described her as “very brave.” Jumping rope and hiking were her simple pleasures.

The information about Ms. Mehrangiz Mohammad-Rahimi, daughter of Jalil, was gathered from interviews with her relatives. She is also listed among 3,208 members and sympathizers of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, whose executions were reported by the organization in a book entitled Crime Against Humanity. This book documents the 1988-1989 mass execution of political prisoners in Iran.

Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was born in Tehran in 1958. After she graduated from Fatemeh Amini High School in Tehran, she became a sympathizer of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. The interviewee remembers her as a “friendly and happy person. She liked sports. She enjoyed jumping rope and hiking. She was very brave.”

Her sister, Ms. Soheila Mohammad-Rahimi, was also one of the victims of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. Her brothers, Aziz and Hushang were executed in 1981 and 1992 respectively.

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis, the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and recruit new members based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and infiltration of governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda. During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders. *

Arrest and Detention

Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was arrested on the street after a demonstration in Tehran on June 17, 1981, at age 23. Her friends informed her family of her arrest. She was detained in Evin Prison for two months and then taken to Qezelhesar Prison. As punishment, she was transferred to Gohardasht prison in the winter of 1983 and spent 18 months in solitary confinement. In July of 1985, she was taken to Qezelhesar prison where for two months she was imprisoned in the same cell as her sister Soheila. In 1986, she was returned to Evin Prison. She had some visits during her seven-year detention; the first was with her father in the spring of 1982, and the last was in July of 1988.

Trial

Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was tried in 1981 and condemned to seven years imprisonment. According to existing information, there was no official trial with the presence of an attorney or 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 when they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

At her trial in 1981, Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was charged with sympathizing with the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. 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 of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant.

Defence

Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was denied the right to have an attorney. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners 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 Khalq 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.”

Judgment

Ms. Mehrangiz Mohammad-Rahimi was hanged during the mass killings of political prisoners in Evin Prison in August of 1988 after having completed her prison sentence. The officials gave her personal belongings and those of her sister to her father and told him: “Your daughters are executed and you are not allowed to have any ceremony for them.” The burial places of Mehrangiz and her sister are not known.

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*The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’ efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the regime called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime. *

In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq war. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the Forugh Javidan Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country.

In defense: In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.

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