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

Mehrdad Dastgir

About

Age: 24
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: September, 1988
Location: Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Apostasy

About this Case

Mr. Mehrdad Dastgir is a victim in the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. Many of the executed prisoners were members or sympathizers of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as MKO). However, members or supporters of Marxist Leninist organizations such as, the People’s Fedayian of Iran (Minority) or Peykar, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and Fadayian Khalq (Majority), which did not oppose the regime, were among the victims. Complementary information has been gathered from the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with family members, and memoirs of witnesses by the Boroumand Foundation.

The information about Mr. Mehrdad Dastgir is taken from the book The Martyrs of the Tuden Party of Iran by The Tudeh Party Publications. He was a high school student and a member of the Youth Organization of the Tudeh Party. He sold Tudeh publications on the street.

The Tudeh Party of Iran was created in 1941. The Tudeh Party ideology was Marxist-Leninist and it supported the former Soviet Union's policies. The Party played a major role in Iran's political scene until it was banned for the second time following the August 19, 1953 coup. After the 1979 Revolution, the Tudeh Party declared Ayatollah Khomeini and the Islamic Republic regime revolutionaries and anti-imperialists and actively supported the new government. Although the Party never opposed the Islamic Republic, it became the target of government attacks in 1982 when most of the Party's leaders and members were imprisoned.

Arrest and detention

Mr. Mehrdad Dastgir was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards on the street as he was selling the Party’s publications in May, 1982 and he was taken to Evin Prison.

Trial

Mr. Mehrdad Dastgir was tried and condemned to life imprisonment. Whether or not a second trial condemned him to death is not known. According to the available information, the Iranian authorities did not try the victims of the 1988 mass execution in a court with in the presence of a defense lawyer. The prisoners who were 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 serving at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.

Charges

No charge was ever publicly levelled against the victims of the 1988 mass execution. 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, Ruhollah 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 the PMOI'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.

It is possible that the prisoners who were members of organizations other than the MKO were charge for being "anti religious" and were condemned for insisting on their beliefs.

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution contains no evidence provided against the defendant.

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 submit the isolation of their relatives from the outside during their detention: "Our children lived in most difficult conditions. Visits were limited to 10 minutes behind a glass divider through a telephone every two weeks. We witnessed, over the past seven years, that they were denied access to anything that would have allowed them to establish contacts outside their prisons' walls." Under such conditions the families reject the claim of the authorities that these prisoners were able to engage with the political groups outside Iran.

Judgment

No specific information is available about the death sentence. Mr. Mehrdad Dastgir was hanged during the mass killings of political prisoners in September, 1988.

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