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The 1988 Iranian Massacre: A historic test for the international community

Written By | Aug 25, 2021
Iranian Massacre, History, Regime,

Top: Image of Massacre Bottom: Pictures of Iranians executed in 1988

FRANCE: In the summer of 1988, the Iranian regime summarily and extra-judicially executed tens of thousands of political prisoners held in jails across Iran. The massacre was carried out on the basis of a fatwa by the regime’s then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini.  The state-sponsored execution of political prisoners across Iran began on 19 July 1988 continuing for approximately five months.

The majority of those killed were supporters of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran. Supporters of other leftist factions were also executed.  These including the Fedaian and the Tudeh Party of Iran (Communist Party). (The 1988 Massacre of Political Prisoners in Iran: Eyewitness Accounts, Mohammad Sar Kheyli

According to Amnesty International,

“Thousands of political dissidents were systematically subjected to enforced disappearance in Iranian detention facilities across the country and extrajudicially executed pursuant to an order issued by the Supreme Leader of Iran and implemented across prisons in the country. Many of those killed during this time were subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment in the process.” 

Mahmoud Royaee is a former Iranian political prisoner and witness of the 1988 massacre. He shares his observances of this period of terror below:


It was 12 o’clock at night, and we were sitting in the hallway with another prisoner named Farid. I still did not know anything about what was going on in the prison. From under the blindfold, we noticed that the prisoners were grouped together and then taken to a corridor, which was later named “Corridor of Death.” Around 12 or 12:30 midnight, all prisoners had been taken away.

A few minutes later, Farid and I were sent to cell 4, ward 2. As soon as I removed my blindfold, I saw Siamak in front of me. The last time I saw my friend was five years ago and we had been looking for each other ever since. As soon as Siamak saw me, he hugged me and told me that they killed everyone! Surprised by what I heard, I said:

“What?” He repeated it, “They killed everyone!” I said, “It is not possible.” I could not believe it.

He explained to me:

“Since Thursday and Friday last week, the Revolutionary Guards have changed their behavior. They have banned us from watching television. No prison visits have been allowed. The newspaper distribution has been stopped.”

It turned out that they actually had started the massacre on Saturday, August 29.

There are two major prisons in Tehran, Gohardasht Prison, and Evin Prison.

Infamous Evin Prison is the main prison in Tehran, where thousands of executions took place. Gohardasht Prison is located near the city of Karaj, west of Tehran, and housed a large number of political prisoners. A Death Committee was assigned to both Evin and Gohardasht prisons, determining whether a prisoner remained opposed to the Khomeini regime. If the answer was yes, an execution sentence was issued and oversaw the execution process.

The Death Committee for these two prisons consisted of Hossein Ali Nayeri, Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Morteza Ishraqi, and Ebrahim Raisi, the regime’s new president. Underneath the Death Committee, a group of three people, including Mohammad Moghisehaei, Davood Lashgari, and Hamid Nouri, were in charge of executing the orders issued by the Death Committee.

Hamid Nouri is currently on trial in Sweden for crimes against humanity.

He took the people sentenced to death by the Death Committee to the hanging room and tied the rope around their necks. Nouri often grabbed the prisoners who had the rope around their necks and pulled them down to speed up the process and to showcase his barbarism and mercilessness. God knows he has repeated this process hundreds or thousands of times.

The word killer cannot fully define him. Although Nouri was one of those who carried out the execution orders, the important ones were those who issued the verdict and issued the death sentence. (Sweden charges Hamid Nouri with historic Iran war crimes)

The Death Committee of Morteza Eshraghi and his successor at that time, Ebrahim Raisi, were busy issuing speedy execution orders from Thursday, August 27, to the end of September.

They issued between 20 – 300 execution orders every single day. He issued execution orders, as simple as ordering a cup of tea and enjoying it. Truly unimaginable! When Farzin Nosrati was brought into the room, as soon as they asked his name and he answered, they issued his execution sentence. It took the Death Committee less than 10 seconds to send a young man to the hanging ropes!

The members of the Death Committees were awarded higher government positions and incentives if they had fulfilled all their inhumane atrocities. For example, Ebrahim Raisi, who was the deputy prosecutor at the time, later became the head of the country’s inspector general, the head of the judiciary, and now serves as Iran’s president.

Mostafa Pourmohammadi, who represented the Minister of Intelligence in the Death Committee, later became Khamenei’s security adviser. In Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, he was given the post of Minister of Interior and is now the head of the General Inspectorate. Ismail Shoushtari, who was the head of the Prisons Organization, became Minister of Justice during the presidency of Rafsanjani and Khatami.

The appointment of Raisi as the regime’s president embodies the unparalleled cruelty of the mullahs’ regime.

Raisi played a unique role in the killing of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988, according to Khomeini’s fatwa. More than 90 percent of those massacred prisoners were members and supporters of the MEK, the regime’s main opposition. Khomeini’s fatwa stated that all MEK, the sworn enemies of the Iranian regime, should they insist on their beliefs, that is, to oppose this evil regime, they should be executed only because of their beliefs.

In addition, Raisi, as the head of the judiciary, has been involved in numerous executions since the 1988 massacre. He is also involved in the suppression of widespread protests, such as the November 2019 uprising, in which more than 1,500 protesters were killed in the streets of different cities across Iran.

Raisi’s appointment as president was meant to break down and stop the growing waves of uprisings and demonstrations throughout Iran.

The uprisings are currently being led by the Iranian youths. These young people form small groups, called Resistance units. These resistance units advocate the ten-point plan of Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian opposition. This plan calls for equality between men and women, the separation of religion from the state, and a non-nuclear solution. The arrival of Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, marks the end of the mullahs’ system.

Similar to the past presidents, Ebrahim Raisi’s confrontation with the rest of those in power and the people’s just demands have already had a fresh start.

A maximum turnout of 10 percent in the regime’s presidential election in June 2021 is the beginning of this confrontation. All indications are that this time the winner will not be the regime.

At the same time, Raisi’s presidency is a historic test for the international community. Will the world’s governments interact with the president who has succeeded in his generational massacre, or will they stand by the Iranian people?



Read more from Hamid Enayat on CDN

About the Author:

Hamid Enayat is an Iranian political analyst and freelance writer based in Europe.


Hamid Enayat

Hamid Enayat is an independent Iranian political analyst and writer based in Europe.