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

Mohammad Ja'far Vosuqi

About

Age: 31
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: September 25, 1988
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech

About this Case

The information about Mr. Mohammad Ja’far Vosuqi is based on an interview with his wife. His name is also mentioned in the list “Yadnameh”, published by the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, Majority Branch (April 2002: Koln). Mr. Vosuqi is one victim of the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The majority of the executed prisoners were members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. Other victims included members or sympathizers of Marxist-Leninist organizations, such as the Fedaiyan Khalq (Minority) and the Peykar Organization, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and the Fedaiyan Khalq (Majority), which did not. Information about the mass executions has been gathered by the Boroumand Foundation from the memoir of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with victims’ families, and witnesses’ memoirs.

Mr. Vosuqi was born in Qazvin in 1957. He was graduated from the National University with a degree in biology; he worked as a specialist in a pharmaceutical company. He was married and a member of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (Majority). In a letter to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, his wife, Fariba Kaviani, protested her husband’s execution.

The Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, a Marxist Leninist group, inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the urban guerilla movements of Latin America, was founded in 1971 by two communist groups opposed to the Pahlavi regime. Following the 1979 Revolution, the Organization, which had renounced armed struggle, split over their support of the Islamic Republic and of the Soviet Union. The Fadaiyan Khalq Majority considered the Islamic Republic as a revolutionary and anti-imperialist regime and supported it. After the spring of 1983, however, the Islamic Republic targeted its members solely because of their political beliefs.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Vosuqi was arrested by plainclothes agents in his house in Tehran on July 11, 1987. The agents had a warrant signed by the Public Prosecution Office for Narcotics. Mr. Vosuqi’s wife, who was also arrested, explained the arrest circumstances as follows:

“Around midnight, some armed agents jumped over the walls and entered our house. They showed us a narcotics-related warrant. Our landlord, who lived next door, told them that he knows us and assured them that we are not related to narcotics. My sister’s name was written on the warrant instead of mine. I told them that it must be a mistake. They said, ‘it may be so, but you should come with us and after a few questions we will take you back.’ I had to leave my two-year-old son with the neighbors and got in their car along with my husband. They forced us to lay our heads on our legs and took us to a building that later on I realized was the Intelligence Committee building. In the parking lot, they blindfolded us, took us to the yard, and separated us. Then the interrogations began.”

The circumstances of Mr. Vosuqi’s detention are not known. But his wife, who was also a political activist and released later, was tortured severely. She wrote to the Boroumand Foundation that she was blindfolded in prison and that agents hit the soles of her feet with a metal rod. They tortured and interrogated her for several days until they had to take her to the Revolutionary Guard’s hospital. She added, “During the interrogations, the interrogator demanded that I write the following statement after each of my answers: ‘Anytime, if it becomes evident that I did not tell the truth, the Islamic Republic has the right to execute me.’ I had to sign the statement.”

Mr. Mohammad Ja’far Vosuqi was detained at the Joint Committee, the Revolutionary Guard’s prison in Mashhad, and Evin prison. According to his wife, they took them both separately to Mashhad because their political activities took place in that city. She had two visitations with Mr. Vosuqi, once at Mashhad prison and the other time at Evin for ten minutes. According to her, Mr. Vosuqi was denied the right to have an attorney.

Trial

Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Mr. Mohammad Ja’far Vosuqi and thousands of other individuals in 1988 are not known. According to available information, the Iranian authorities did not try the victims of the 1988 mass execution in a court with the presence of a defence lawyer. The prisoners executed in 1988 had been questioned by a three-member special committee composed of a religious judge, a representative of the Intelligence Ministry, and the Tehran Prosecutor. The committee questioned the leftist prisoners about their beliefs and their faith in God and religion.

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 at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

In regard to Mr. Mohammad Ja’far Vosuqi’s charges, his wife wrote, “In response to my question, ‘Why did you kill him?’ they replied: ‘He did not cooperate and stood by his beliefs.’”

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.

Defendants, who did not belong to the Organization named by the leader of the Islamic Republic, may have been accused of being “anti-religion” for not having renounced his or her beliefs.

Evidence of guilt

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

Defense

No information is available on his defense. 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 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

Details regarding the execution sentence are not available. According to available information, leftist prisoners executed in 1988 were found to be “apostates.” Months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed the victims’ belongings to their families. The bodies, however, were not returned to them. The bodies were buried in mass graves. Authorities warned the families of prisoners against holding memorial ceremonies.

Mr. Mohammad Ja’dar Vosuqi was executed in the summer of 1988. His wife, Ms. Kaviani, in her letter to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote: “I kept inquiring about my husband’s case until 1989 when I was given a death certificate for my husband. However, when I tried to use this certificate to sort out some legal issues regarding my son and myself, I [realized] that this was a forged certificate… a man responsible for the burial of the executed prisoners agreed to meet with me… He said to me: ‘[…] I can only tell you that your husband’s body was buried in a nameless grave somewhere in a wasteland of by the side of a highway. It was never taken to the Behesht-e Zahra [Cemetery]…’”

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