Latest ArticlesArchivesForumsRSS FeedGuestbookContact UsSearch

Iran Press Service (logo)

As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

Massacre of 1988 in Iran

Published Saturday, September 1, 2007

Paris, 1Sept. (IPS) By 1988, there was nothing left of the relatively free atmosphere people acquired for a short period after the Iranian revolution of 1979. The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI)’s brutal machine of repression had already uprooted a great number of other thinkers.

Thousands of activists and sympathisers of the opposition groups had been already arrested, tortured, forced to repent or summarily executed, and their political rallies and media were banned. The peak of atrocity was however a death-fatwa in summer of 1988 issued by Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, the founder of the IRI.

Exact numbers of executions have never been officially reported by the IRI, but is estimated at between some 4485 to 30000 people, according to sources.

The fatwa was initially targeted against the MKO (People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran), a Stalinist-Islamic group who turned the back on their ex-brothers in power, but soon was accompanied by another fatwa ordering to massacre any political prisoner who refused to repent and cooperate with the regime. Until September of 1988, the executions continued in Evin prison in Tehran and other prisons of Iranian cities with all atrocity.

Exact numbers of executions of 88 and the conditions of executions have never been officially reported by the IRI or their factions. Different numbers are speculated by both IRI’s deserters and rescuers, from some 4485 names published in the opposition media up to 30000 executions, as estimated.

Most of the victims were political prisoners, including a number of prisoners of conscience, who had already served a number of years in prison. Most victims belonged to the MKO, but none of them could have played any role in the armed incursion of the Organisation in 1988, which was supposed to be the trigger of the massacre.

The prisoners were, in fact, in no position to take part in spying or terrorist activities because many of them had been tried and sentenced to prison terms during the early 1980s, many for non-violent offences such as distributing newspapers and leaflets, taking part in demonstrations or collecting funds for prisoners' families. Many of them had been students in their teens or early twenties at the time of their arrest.

According to Mr. Abrahamian, an Iranian researcher of this genocide, the massacre was planned after the end of Iran-Iraq war and short before the MKO’s failed military attack on Iran called “Forough Javidan” in 1988. So, the massacre was not due to this operation, in accordance to “eye-for-eye”, law of retribution, otherwise called ”Qessas”, but an inspiration of killing-concept of Islamism, which legitimates such a massacre.

According to the French influential leftist newspaper “Le Monde”, “…In March 1988 Khomeini summoned the Revolutionary Prosecutor, Hojjatoleslam Khoeiniha, to instruct him that henceforth all Mojahedin, those in prisons or elsewhere, must be killed for waging war on God”. “The trial consisted of various means of pressuring the prisoners to repent, to change their ways and confess.

The executions followed summary trials and soon included all other political prisoners--leftist and democratic opposition. “Cases of young prisoners who were executed included some who were jailed about eight years earlier, when they were 12 to 14 years old, for taking part in public demonstrations”, added Le Monde.

Massacre of 1988 in Iran-Body-3

A committee composed of Hojjatoleslam Nayeri, Mr. Eshraghi, both representative of the Iranian judiciary, and a representative of the Information Ministry were formed by a Khomeini’s decree to coordinate the executions.

What took place in 1988 and what is carried on in the Iranian prisons are in flagrant violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. The massacre is the most criminal example committed by the IRI. However not only it is ignored by the West because of their complex relations with the IRI, but also the UN and the international criminal court, the Hague Court, have been silence on the massacre for the last two decades.

While the genocide of the Nazi criminals against the Jews and that of the Ottoman Sunni Empire in Turkey against the Armenians are internationally recognised, a full investigation into the massacre of 1988 is required to shed light on the details of crimes and the culprits.

Cases of young executed prisoners included some who were jailed about eight years, when they were 12 to 14 years old.

It is to mention that the US occupied Afghanistan an Iraq in a dubious relation with the Islamist attack of 11 September, but along with other key powers are always keen to remain in tune with the desires of the IRI by ignoring the massacre of 88. Apart from some human organisations, the major key leaders of the West yet again do not seem to show any interest in recognising this massacre of The IRI on their own Iranian citizenry.

The 1988 Massacre has the political continuation in the early years of the IRI when the newly established regime began nationwide crackdown on the opposition groups. Soon after the 1979 revolution, the paramilitary thugs of Hezbollah regularly attacked, sabotaged and intimidated opposition groups and ravaged their sieges and media. Many newspapers were shut down, women were humiliated, minorities and ethnic groups were discriminated, and Friday prayer sermons turned into a place to spew out venomous invective and hatred against any voice calling for gender equality, social justice, democracy and secularism.

The historical justification of the massacre has roots in the epoch of the Prophet Muhammad when he came up with the idea that it is perfectly legitimate to kill “unbelievers” --the teaching of the Koran confirms it:

"Those who resist Allah and his messenger will be humbled to dust”: the Koran 58-5. Or: "I will instil terror into the hearts of the unbelievers”. the Koran 8-12.

These verses justify not only Muslims’ jihad against non-believers, but also have been used or abused for inner conflicts within Muslims, among their different sects and power-thirsty groups who have been mutually killing each others since the advent of Islam.

IRI’s version of Islam justified the, both categories of “enemy of Islam” namely, the “Molhed” or unbelievers and the “hypocrite” Muslims of the Mojahedins“.

Amnesty International has declared September 1st the International Day in Remembrance of the Massacre of political prisoners. The 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran is a crime against humanity but it is important to recognise that ayatollah Khomeini was not the only culprit of the crimes; in fact many other, smaller, crimes did not end after his death in 1988.

Massacre of 1988 in Iran-Body-2
Massacre of 1988 in Iran-Body

A number of the culprits of the massacre are now the close colleagues of the Iranian President, Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad and continue violating the most basic rights of human dignity in Iran. Some generals of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is the main composite of his government, and Minister of Interior Hojjatoleslam Mostafa Pourmohammadi (he was one of three members of a committee that ordered the summary execution of inmates in Tehran's Evin prison) and Minister of Information Hojjatoleslam Qolamhossein Mohseni Ezheh’i were the brutal butchers of the massacre.

According to a well-documented paper of Human Rights Watch in 15, December 2005, the involvement of “Mr. Pourmohammadi and Mr. Ezheh’i” has been confirmed.

The IRI, its factions, and all „insiders or outsiders” sympathisers of late ayatollah Khomeini, consider any information related to this genocide as taboo and secret and would not release any report of the details concerning the number and circumstances of executions.

In the nineteenth year of the massacre, many thousands of Iranian families who lost their loved relatives in summer 88 want the international judicial authorities to establish a tribunal to bring these genocide criminals of the IRI to justice to be punished according to the same international laws which condemned the Nazi criminals in 1946 in the Nürenberg Court. ENDS MASSACRE OF 1988-1907

Editor’s note: Mr. Rashidian is a political activist and commentator living in Germany. His articles appear in many Iranian intrernet sites, including IPS


Comments on this page are closed.

As of January 2009, this site is definitely closed, but you can follow Safa Haeri on his new blog: DAMAVAND at

Massacre of 1988 in Iran-Main
Grand Ayatollah Khomeini ordered the execution of all political prisonners in the summer of 1988.



Want to express an opinion?
Participate in our user forums.

Impressions from our site?
Share them in our Guest Book.

Got Feedback?
Send a letter to the editor.


Powered by the Big Medium content management system. sitemap xml