Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shah of Iran & Ayatollah Khomeini.

Mawdudi’s works began to appear in Iran in the 1960s. They were translated into Persian from Arabic by Ayatollah Hadi Khusrawshahi and members of a translating team working with him. Articles on Mawdudi and excerpts from his works also appeared in various issues of Khusrawshahi’s journal Maktab-i Islam. Following the revolution of 1978–1979, a number of Mawdudi’s works were translated into Persian from Arabic by Ayatollah Sayyid Muhammad Khamana’i. Interestingly, the first Persian translation of a work of Mawdudi was done in Hyderabad, Deccan, by Mahmud Faruqi in 1946; RJI, vol. 4, 90. REFERENCES: The Vangaurd of the Islamic Revolution - The Jama‘at-i Islami of Pakistan Seyed Vali Reza Nasr UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS Berkeley · Los Angeles · London © 1994 The Regents of the University of California - Should we just condemn only Khomeini and condone Mawdudi knowing well that Mawdudi was a close friend of Khomeini and was sympathetic to his course. In a book titled, 'Two brothers - Maududi and Khomeini' page 129, the following statement of Dr Ahmad Farouk Maududi (son of Abul-A'ala Maududi) was published in Roz Naame, Lahore - 29 September 1979, "Allama Khomeini had a very old and close relationship with Abba Jaan (father). Aayaatullah Khomeini translated his (fathers) books in Farsi and included it as a subject in Qum. Allama Khomeini met my father in 1963 during Hajj and my father's wish was to create a revolutionary in Pakistan similar to Iran. He was concerned about the success of the Iranian revolution till his last breath.'

Ronald Reagan on Shah of Iran, Khomeini & Ugly US Role in Iran


The Iran-Contra Affair was a clandestine action not approved of by the United States Congress. It began in 1985, when President Ronald Reagan's administration supplied weapons to Iran¹ — a sworn enemy — in hopes of securing the release of American hostages held in Lebanon by Hezbollah terrorists loyal to the Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran's leader. This article is rooted in the Iran Hostage Crisis. The U.S. took millions of dollars from the weapons sale and routed them and guns to the right-wing "Contra"² guerrillas in Nicaragua. The Contras were the armed opponents of Nicaragua's Sandinista Junta of National Reconstruction, following the July 1979 overthrow of strongman Anastasio Somoza Debayle and the ending of the Somoza family's 43-year reign. The transactions that took place in the Iran-Contra scandal were contrary to the legislation of the Democratic-dominated Congress and contrary to official Reagan administration policy. Part of the deal was that, in July 1985, the United States would send 508 American-made TOW anti-tank missiles from Israel to Iran for the safe exchange of a hostage, the Reverend Benjamin Weir. After that successful transfer, the Israelis offered to ship 500 HAWK surface-to-air missiles to Iran in November 1985, in exchange for the release of all remaining American hostages being held in Lebanon. Eventually the arms were sold with proceeds going to the contras, and the hostages were released. In February 1986, 1,000 TOW missiles were shipped to Iran. From May to November, there were more shipments of various weapons and parts. Eventually Hezbollah elected to kidnap more hostages following their release of the previous ones, which rendered meaningless any further dealings with Iran. REFERENCE: Iran-Contra Affair Foreign Affairs, 1985-1992"Irangate" http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1889.html Iran-Contra Affair Foreign Affairs, 1985-1992 "Irangate" http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1889.html

Mike Wallace and H.I.M Mohammad Reza Pahlavi



Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, Former Prime Minister of Iran [28 April 1951 – 19 August 1953]Mosaddeq was removed from power in a 19 August 1953 coup supported and funded by the British and U.S. governments and led by General Fazlollah Zahedi.[Secrets of History: The C.I.A in Iran By JAMES RISEN http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html

Secrets of History: The C.I.A in Iran By JAMES RISEN http://www.nytimes.com/library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, [26 October 1919, Tehran – 27 July 1980, Cairo] with his wife.

The Central Intelligence Agency's secret history of its covert operation to overthrow Iran's government in 1953 offers an inside look at how the agency stumbled into success, despite a series of mishaps that derailed its original plans. Written in 1954 by one of the coup's chief planners, the history details how United States and British officials plotted the military coup that returned the shah of Iran to power and toppled Iran's elected prime minister, an ardent nationalist.

The document shows that:

Britain, fearful of Iran's plans to nationalize its oil industry, came up with the idea for the coup in 1952 and pressed the United States to mount a joint operation to remove the prime minister. The C.I.A. and S.I.S., the British intelligence service, handpicked Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi to succeed Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and covertly funneled $5 million to General Zahedi's regime two days after the coup prevailed. Iranians working for the C.I.A. and posing as Communists harassed religious leaders and staged the bombing of one cleric's home in a campaign to turn the country's Islamic religious community against Mossadegh's government. The shah's cowardice nearly killed the C.I.A. operation. Fearful of risking his throne, the Shah repeatedly refused to sign C.I.A.-written royal decrees to change the government. The agency arranged for the shah's twin sister, Princess Ashraf Pahlevi, and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the father of the Desert Storm commander, to act as intermediaries to try to keep him from wilting under pressure. He still fled the country just before the coup succeeded.

“What’s New on the Iran 1953 Coup in the New York Times Article (April 16, 2000, front page) and the Documents Posted on the Web” By Professor Mark Gasiorowski
19 April 2000

There is not much in the NYT article itself that is not covered in my article on the coup (“The 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran” published in 1987 in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, and available in the Gulf2000 archives) or other sources on the coup. The most interesting new tidbit here is that the CIA’s agents harassed religious leaders and bombed one’s home in order to turn them against Mossadeq. The article does not say, but this was probably done by Iranians working in the BEDAMN network, which is described in my article. There are also some new details on how that US persuaded the shah to agree to the coup, including a statement that Assadollah Rashidian was involved in this effort and that General Schwartzkopf, Sr. played a larger role in this than was previously known. There are also a few details reported in the article that I knew about but chose not to reveal, including that Donald Wilber and Norman Derbyshire developed the original coup plan and that the plan was known as TPAJAX, rather than simply AJAX. (The TP prefix indicated that the operation was to be carried out in Iran.) The NYT article does not say anything about a couple of matters that remain controversial about the coup, including whether Ayatollah Kashani played a role in organizing the crowds and whether the CIA team organized “fake” Tudeh Party crowds as part of the effort. There may be something on these issues in the 200-page history itself.

Much more important than the NYT article are the two documents appended to the summary document giving operational plans for the coup. These contain a wealth of interesting information. They indicate that the British played a larger—though still subordinate—role in the coup than was previously known, providing part of the financing for it and using their intelligence network (led by the Rashidian brothers) to influence members of the parliament and do other things. The CIA described the coup plan as “quasi-legal,” referring to the fact that the shah legally dismissed Mossadeq but presumably acknowledging that he did not do so on his own initiative. These documents make clear that the CIA was prepared to go forward with the coup even if the shah opposed it. There is a suggestion that the CIA use counterfeit Iranian currency to somehow show that Mossadeq was ruining the economy, though I’m not sure this was ever done. The documents indicate that Fazlollah Zahedi and his military colleagues were given large sums of money (at least $50,000) before the coup, perhaps to buy their support. Most interestingly, they indicate that various clerical leaders and organizations—whose names are blanked out—were to play a major role in the coup. Finally, the author(s) of the London plan—presumably Wilber and Derbyshire—say some rather nasty things about the Iranians, including that there is a “recognized incapacity of Iranians to plan or act in a thoroughly logical manner.”

Perhaps the most general conclusion that can be drawn from these documents is that the CIA extensively stage-managed the entire coup, not only carrying it out but also preparing the groundwork for it by subordinating various important Iranian political actors and using propaganda and other instruments to influence public opinion against Mossadeq. This is a point that was made in my article and other published accounts, but it is strongly confirmed in these documents. In my view, this thoroughly refutes the argument that is commonly made in Iranian monarchist exile circles that the coup was a legitimate “popular uprising” on behalf of the shah.

In reply to Nikki Keddie’s (UCLA) questions about whether the NYT article got the story right, I would say it is impossible to tell until the 200-page document comes out. Nikki’s additional comment that these documents may not be entirely factual but may instead reveal certain biases held by their authors is an important one. Wilber was not in Iran while the coup was occurring, and his account of it can only have been based on his debriefing of Kermit Roosevelt and other participants. Some facts were inevitably lost or misinterpreted in this process, especially since this was a rapidly changing series of events. This being said, I doubt that there will be any major errors in the 200-page history. While Wilber had his biases, he certainly was a competent historian. I can think of no reason he might have wanted to distort this account.

Here are a few other notes. It is my understanding that these documents were given to the NYT well before Secretary Albright’s recent speech, implying that they were not an attempt to upstage or add to the speech by the unnamed “former official” who provided them to the NYT. I think there is still some reason to hope that the 200-page document will be released with excisions by the NYT. I certainly hope they do so.

The Last Shah - Iran History BBC Documentary (Part 1)

Ayatollah Ruhollah KhomeinI was not an easy man. Stern and vengeful, he was not an easy man to like. Single-minded in his thinking, he was not an easy man to negotiate with. He certainly was not an easy man to interview. I remember the second time I interviewed him, in his exile in a village outside of Paris in the months before the 1979 revolution. He didn't like one of my questions. So he simply stood up from his cross-legged position on the floor and, without a word, wrapped himself in his cloak and left the room. Yet during his lifetime the ayatollah achieved near-mythic status, and he was revered, even worshiped, by Iranians who saw him as their savior on earth. Night after night before the revolution, many people swore that they saw Khomeini's face -- his turban, his eyes, his nose, his beard -- in the moon. In his biography of Khomeini, Baqer Moin describes the harsh side of the cleric who forever changed the course of Iran's history. ''Khomeini had never been particularly interested in discussion and dialogue,'' Moin writes. ''He was an introvert; his dialogue was with himself rather than with others.'' But then Moin, correctly, finds the key to understanding the ayatollah elsewhere: ''His approach was intuitive.'' It was Khomeini's extraordinary intuition, his innate sense that a cleric should be more than a person who leads prayers every Friday and conducts rituals for pay, that propelled him to lead a country into one of the most far-reaching revolutions of modern history. True, Khomeini was a man of religion; but even more important, he was a gifted and shrewd politician, skilled in mobilizing his supporters and isolating his opponents, supple in decision making when it served his goal of making and consolidating a theocracy. He appealed to the masses with promises to liberate them from oppression, surrounded himself with loyal clerical lieutenants and attracted the religious bazaar merchants, who began to offer him money, which in turn increased his following and influence. And he had no patience with the clerics of his day, even his more senior peers, who were determined to stay out of politics and were willing to share power with a traditional Shiite monarchy as their predecessors had done for over four centuries. ''Politics and religion are one,'' Khomeini often declared. Baqer Moin is ideally placed to have written a biography of one of the most complicated political figures of the 20th century. Moin grew up in Iran, where he learned Persian and Arabic poetry, mysticism and philosophy from his father, who was trained as a cleric but earned a living as a farmer. Moin himself studied in the religious seminaries of Mashad before becoming a journalist. He now heads the BBC's Persian service (even Khomeini listened to it). Moin has produced the first serious and accessible examination of the ayatollah's life. The most interesting parts of the book deal with the human side of a man who was little known before his ascent to power and widely misunderstood both before and after. Born into a family of clerics descended from the prophet Muhammad, Khomeini enjoyed a comfortable childhood in the village of Khomein in central Iran, where he was raised in a large fortified compound with a vast garden, courtyards, balconies and watchtowers. He was cared for by servants and protected by armed guards. As a young man, Khomeini developed an interest in poetry and wrote poetry himself, even using the language of love and drink. (''Keep the door of the tavern open for me night and day, / Farewell seminary, farewell mosque, / Let me go my way'' was typical of his style of verse.) Later, dissatisfied with the orthodox version of Islam practiced by the clergy, Khomeini became an intellectual rebel, plunging into mysticism. Moin argues that he owed his fearlessness as a political leader to his mystical sense of oneness with God. ''Intoxicated by the cosmic vision of a mystic and bound by the firm belief of a jurisprudent who carries out God's command, Khomeini the politician was a powerful fusion. As a mystic, Khomeini was an elitist, but as a theologian he was expedient and as a politician a calculating populist to the point of being opportunistic. . . . For Khomeini, there was no distinction between the persona of the jurist, the mystic and the politician.'' In his first news conference in Iran, four days after his return in February 1979, he unveiled the world's first modern theocracy. ''This is not an ordinary government,'' he declared. Rather, it would be ''God's government.'' That meant, he added, that opposition to the government was opposition to God -- in other words, ''blasphemy.'' Moin evokes Khomeini's rigidity through the memories of his host in Turkey, where Khomeini lived for several months in 1964 after the shah sent him into exile. When Ali Cetiner, a Persian-speaking colonel in Turkish military intelligence who was assigned to be Khomeini's minder, couldn't find a suitable place for him to stay he took him into his secular middle-class home in the city of Bursa. Cetiner's wife installed a new bed, bought new sheets and even put a Koran at Khomeini's bedside. She cooked dinner and put on her best dress to greet their Iranian guest. But when Khomeini arrived, he began protesting to Colonel Afzali, the minder from Iranian intelligence who had accompanied him there. ''He says the woman with the uncovered head should leave,'' Afzali explained to Cetiner, whose wife replied: ''I am not his housekeeper here. I am the lady of the house.'' Still, she put on a long nightdress and covered her head. Over time, Khomeini came to respect her, standing up when she entered the room, chatting with her amiably and even smiling as he looked her in the eye. Moin provides a deft account of Khomeini's emergence as a political leader: his writings, the dissemination of his ideas through audiocassette tapes while he was in exile in France and Iraq, his triumphal return to Iran, the hardening of his positions after the revolution. But some of the central chapters in recent Iranian history receive only the most cursory treatment. One of those chapters was the 444-day seizure of the United States Embassy in Tehran, which Khomeini blessed and then used to consolidate his power and purge his enemies. Another was the Iran-contra affair, in which the United States secretly sold weapons to Iran in violation of its stated policy and used the profits to finance anti-Communist rebels in Nicaragua. Iran's purchase of weapons from the country Khomeini assailed as the ''Great Satan'' underscored the regime's pragmatic streak. A third was Khomeini's ambitious but unsuccessful campaign to export his version of Islamic revolution to the rest of the Muslim world. Still, Moin does capture many things well -- for instance, Khomeini's antipathy to Israel. The Ayatollah's early writings and sermons have a distinctly anti-Semitic tone, which he muted as he became more of a political leader. Yet even today, Iran views the United States and Israel as enemies and is uneasy with its Jewish population, as demonstrated by the recent closed trial of 13 Jews on charges of spying for Israel. Not that Jews are the only victims of intolerance in Iran. As Eliz Sanasarian points out in her short but indispensable study, ''Religious Minorities in Iran,'' Iran has been uncomfortable with its other minorities as well, including the Zoroastrians, the Bahais, the Armenians and other Christians, and has repressed and marginalized them to varying degrees over the years. Sanasarian's book is an important contribution to understanding the relationship between Iran's religious minorities and the Tehran government. One can only imagine how Khomeini would deal with the battles being waged on various fronts today -- the press, the courts, the Parliament, the cinema, the universities, the streets. As early as 1942, he wrote in an anonymous tract that he expected the government of Islam to ''follow religious rules and regulations and ban publications which are against the law and religion and hang those who write such nonsense in the presence of religious believers.'' So he would probably approve of the closures of all reformist publications in the last few months and the trials and convictions of some of their editors and publishers. Perhaps Khomeini would also have had them executed. But then, Khomeini once protested the shah's enfranchisement of women, and then encouraged women to participate in his revolution and vote for his government when he needed their numbers. He once promised that clerics would hold only temporary positions in government and then allowed them to hold the most senior positions. He pledged to continue the war against Iraq until its defeat and then abruptly made peace. He once said that the fact that ''I have said something does not mean that I should be bound by my word.'' Indeed, it is that suppleness, that ability to improvise that has outlived Khomeini and that continues to pervade the Islamic Republic, keeping it going. REFERENCE: The People's Shah By Elaine Sciolino Published: August 27, 2000 Khomeini Life of the Ayatollah. By Baqer Moin. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/08/27/books/the-people-s-shah.html?src=pm

The Last Shah - Iran History BBC Documentary (Part 2) 

CHILDREN as young as 13 were hanged from cranes, six at a time, in a barbaric two-month purge of Iran's prisons on the direct orders of Ayatollah Khomeini, according to a new book by his former deputy. More than 30,000 political prisoners were executed in the 1988 massacre - a far larger number than previously suspected. Secret documents smuggled out of Iran reveal that, because of the large numbers of necks to be broken, prisoners were loaded onto forklift trucks in groups of six and hanged from cranes in half-hourly intervals. Gruesome details are contained in the memoirs of Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, The Memoirs of Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, one of the founders of the Islamic regime. He was once considered Khomeini's anointed successor, but was deposed for his outspokenness, and is now under house arrest in the holy city of Qom. Published privately last month after attempts by the regime to suppress it, the revelations have prompted demands from Iranian exiles for those involved to be tried for crimes against humanity. The most damning of the letters and documents published in the book is Khomeini's fatwa decree calling for all Mojahedin (as opponents of the Iranian regime are known) to be killed. Issued shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in July 1988 and an incursion into western Iran by the Iranian resistance, the fatwa reads: "It is decreed that those who are in prisons throughout the country and remain steadfast in their support for the Monafeqin (Mojahedin) are waging war on God and are condemned to execution." It goes on to entrust the decision to "death committees" - three-member panels consisting of an Islamic judge, a representative of the Ministry of Intelligence, and a state prosecutor. Prisoners were to be asked if they had changed loyalties and, if not, were to be executed. Montazeri, who states that 3,800 people had been killed by the end of the first fortnight of executions, includes his own correspondence with Khomeini, saying that the killings would be seen as "a vendetta" and would spark opposition to the regime. He wrote: "The execution of several thousand prisoners in a few days will not have positive repercussions and will not be mistake-free." The massacres, which came just before the Lockerbie bombing, were seen as a sop to the hardliners at a time when Khomeini was already in failing health and the battle for succession had begun between fundamentalists and moderates. He died the following year. According to testimony from prison officials - including Kamal Afkhami Ardekani, who formerly worked at Evin prison - recently given to United Nations human rights rapporteurs: "They would line up prisoners in a 14-by-five-metre hall in the central office building and then ask simply one question, 'What is your political affiliation?' Those who said the Mojahedin would be hanged from cranes in position in the car park behind the building." He went on to describe how, every half an hour from 7.30am to 5pm, 33 people were lifted on three forklift trucks to six cranes, each of which had five or six ropes. He said: "The process went on and on without interruption." In two weeks, 8,000 people were hanged. Similar carnage took place across the country. Many of those in the ruling council at the time of the 1988 massacre are still in power, including President Mohammed Khatami, who was the Director of Ideological and Cultural Affairs. "The massacre may have happened 12 years ago, but the relevance is that these atrocities are still happening", said Mohammad Mohaddessin, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Iranian National Council of Resistance (NCRI), the main opposition group, who was in London last week to present evidence to MPs. The NCRI has prepared files on 21 senior members of the regime whom it alleges were "principal protagonists of the massacre", including Mr Khatami and Ayatollah Ali Khameini, Iran's "Supreme Leader". Mr Mohaddessin will travel to New York to present the files to the UN and call for a tribunal to try them for crimes against humanity. Mr Mohaddessin said human rights abuses were continuing in Iran despite the election of Mr Khatami, who "presents himself as a reformist". REFERENCE: Khomeini fatwa 'led to killing of 30,000 in Iran' By Christina Lamb, Diplomatic Correspondent 12:00AM GMT 04 Feb 2001 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/1321090/Khomeini-fatwa-led-to-killing-of-30000-in-Iran.html

The Last Shah - Iran History BBC Documentary (Part 3) 


The Last Shah - Iran History BBC Documentary (Part 4) 


The Last Shah - Iran History BBC Documentary (Part 5) 


Stop Fundamentalism, 4 September 2011 - A group of human rights activists in Iran are calling on international community to form a truth finding committee in order to investigate the 1988 massacre of political prisoners in Iran, reports HRA news agency on the 23rd anniversary of incident. During the summer of 1988, on a religious decree issued by the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, thousands of political prisoners were executed during a period of less than two months. Those executed were mostly from among the supporters and members of the main Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) Organization. The MEK estimates the number of executions at about 30000. During the said period, political prisoners were executed in groups and mostly were buried in mass graves without any means of identification. Many families of the victims are still unaware of the location where their loved ones have been buried. The executions aimed to physically wipe out the MEK from Iran’s political scene. The group later took refuge in Camp Ashraf Iraq. Part of the religious order by the Ayatollah Khomeini stated that, “those in jails all over the country who continue to insist on their political stance, are Mohareb (one who wages war on God) and are condemned to execution.” The order clearly stressed on the speed the mass exactions were to be carried out. Most executions of MEK and their supporters took place without any due process of law. Kangaroo courts condemned prisoner to death in matters of minutes before the prisoner was taken for execution. Jeffery Robertson, a well-known law expert, calls the mass executions to be the most horrifying incidents following the World War Two Genocides. The right group called on the United Nations Human Rights Council to stop ignoring the 1988 massacres and establish an investigating commission on the subject. The group also calls on Mr. Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran to start a comprehensive look into finding those responsible for the crime. REFERENCE: Mass Execution of Political Prisoners in Iran Left Unanswered Sunday, 04 September 2011 20:52 http://www.stopfundamentalism.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1172:mass-execution-of-political-prisoners-in-iran-left-unanswered&catid=44:human-rights&Itemid=39

The Last Shah - Iran History BBC Documentary (Part 6)


In 1988, the Iranian government summarily and extrajudicially executed thousands of political prisoners held in Iranian jails. The government has never acknowledged these executions, or provided any information as to how many prisoners were killed. The majority of those executed were serving prison sentences for their political activities after unfair trials in revolutionary courts. Those who had been sentenced, however, had not been sentenced to death. The deliberate and systematic manner in which these extrajudicial executions took place constitutes a crime against humanity under international law. On July 18, 1988, Iran accepted the United Nations Security Council Resolution 598, calling for a cease-fire in the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq. On July 24, the largest Iranian armed opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO or MEK), based in Iraq since 1986, launched an incursion into Iran in an attempt to topple the government. Although this offensive was easily repelled by Iranian forces, it provided a pretext for the authorities to physically eliminate many political opponents then in prison, including many MKO members captured and sentenced years earlier. In the absence of any official acknowledgement of the 1988 prison massacre, the most credible account of these events comes from the memoirs of Ayatollah Hussein Ali Montazeri, who was at the time one of the highest ranking government officials in Iran and the designated successor of Ayatollah Khomeini, then the Supreme Leader. According to Ayatollah Montazeri, the government formed a three-person committee to oversee the purge in each prison.6 The authorities told these committees to interview all political prisoners and to order the execution of those deemed “unrepentant.” These committees became known as “Death Committees” [Heya’t Marg]. Each comprised a prosecutor, a judge, and a representative of the Ministry of Information. Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi represented the Ministry of Information on the committee at Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. In a letter of protest addressed to Ayatollah Khomeini, dated August 4, 1988, Ayatollah Montazeri wrote: “The principal role [in determining which prisoners to execute] is played by the representative of the Ministry of Information everywhere and others are effectively under his direct influence.”

Ayatollah Montazeri recounts the unfolding events that led to the massacre of prisoners:

A letter was produced on behalf of the Imam [Khomeini] stating that based on the discretion of a panel composed of a prosecutor, a judge, and a representative of the Ministry of Information, imprisoned members of the hypocrites [monafeghin, a term used by the government to refer to the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization] who are still believers in their cause should be executed. Decisions were to be reached based on the majority vote. Thus if two out of the three members reached a decision that a prisoner is still a believer in his cause, even though the prisoner may have already been sentenced to two or five years in prison, he would be executed.

Ayatollah Montazeri further details the arbitrary and summary character of this process:

Visits to prisoners were suspended for a period of time and, according to people responsible for carrying out these orders, approximately two thousand and eight hundred or three thousand and eight hundred – I can not recall exactly – women and men were executed, relying on the authority of [Ayatollah Khomeini’s] letter. Even people who practiced religious rituals of prayer and fasting were asked to repent, and they would be offended and refuse. Then [the committee] would conclude that the prisoner is still a believer in his cause and ordered their executions!

In his August 4, 1988 letter to Ayatollah Khomeini, Ayatollah Montazeri gives an example of the process of questioning prisoners and determining their fates, writing:

Three days ago a religious judge from one of the provinces – a man who is trustworthy – came to Qum and complained to me of the way your orders are being implemented. The judge told me: The Ministry of Information representative or the prosecutor – I don’t recall which one – in order to determine if a prisoner is a believer in his cause asked the prisoner: “Are you willing to condemn the hypocrites [monafeghin] organization?” The prisoner answered positively. Then, the prisoner was asked: “Are you willing to give an interview?” The prisoner answered positively. He was asked: “Are you willing to go to the war front and fight the Iraqis?” He answered yes. Subsequently, the prisoner was asked: “Are you willing to walk over a mine field?” The prisoner answered, “Not everyone is willing to walk over a mine field.” Following this exchange, it was determined that the prisoner is still a believer in his cause. The judge said that he insisted on reaching a decision by consensus and not by majority vote, but his request was not accepted.

Ayatollah Montazeri identified Mustafa Pour-Mohammadi as the representative of the Ministry of Information in charge of questioning prisoners in Evin Prison and saw him as being a central figure in the mass executions of prisoners in Tehran. He recounts a meeting with Pour-Mohammadi and the two other members of the Evin Prison committee:

After my second letter of protest [to Ayatollah Khomeini], there was no change and [the executions] continued. On August 15, 1988, I met with Mr. Nayeri, who was the religious judge in Evin, Mr. Eshraghi who was the prosecutor, and Mr. Pour-Mohammadi who was the representative of the Ministry of Information. I told them that they should stop the executions during the month of Moharram. Mr. Nayeri responded: “We have so far executed seven-hundred and fifty people in Tehran, and we have identified another two-hundred and fifty people. Allow us to get rid of them and then we’ll listen to you…!

Montazeri provides a memorandum of protest addressed to Pour-Mohammadi and the other two members of the Evin Prison “Death Committee” that he wrote on August 15, 1988. In this memorandum to Pour-Mohammadi, Montazeri wrote:

Carrying out a massacre of prisoners and captives without due process or trail will certainly help our opponent’s cause in the long term. It will also encourage them to carry on armed resistance. The international community will condemn our actions.

With regard to the 1988 mass prison executions, Amnesty International reported in 1990:

The political executions took place in many prisons in all parts of Iran, often far from where the armed incursion took place. Most of the executions were of political prisoners, including an unknown number of prisoners of conscience, who had already served a number of years in prison. They could have played no part in the armed incursion, and they were in no position to take part in spying or terrorist activities. Many of the dead had been tried and sentenced to prison terms during the early 1980s, many for non-violent offenses such as distributing newspapers and leaflets, taking part in demonstrations or collecting funds for prisoners' families. Many of the dead had been students in their teens or early twenties at the time of their arrest. The majority of those killed were supporters of the PMOI [People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, another English-language name for the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, or MKO]; but hundreds of members and supporters of other political groups, including various factions of the PFOI [People’s Fedayeen Organization of Iran], the Tudeh [Communist] Party, the KDPI [Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran], Rah-e Kargar [Workers Party] and others, were also among the execution victims.

Ayatollah Montazeri, citing officials in charge of carrying out the executions, puts the number of executed prisoners between 2,800 and 3,800, but he acknowledges that his recollection is not exact. Iranian activists have published the names of 4,481 executed prisoners. As long as the government refuses to announce a complete list of those executed or even to acknowledge that these executions took place, the extent of this massacre remains unknown.

The families of executed prisoners have repeatedly written to the government officials asking for the number of executed prisoners and their place of burials. In January 2003, they also wrote to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights at the time, Mary Robinson, and the then-chairman of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, Louis Joinet, seeking their help in determining the truth behind the mass executions. According to the families of some of the executed prisoners, the bodies of many are buried in unmarked graves and mass graves in the hills of Tehran’s Khavaran district. Families often congregate in Khavaran to remember their executed relatives. Families of some of the executed prisoners told Human Rights Watch that in September 2005 the new government started to reconfigure the Khavaran site and that makeshift gravestones, put in place by the families, have been destroyed. They said that the government is preparing for a major overhaul of this area to destroy any evidence of burials. REFERENCE: Human Rights Watch Pour-Mohammadi and the 1988 Prison  Massacres http://www.1980smassacre.com/report_hrw.html Ministers of Murder: Iran’s New Security Cabinet http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/mena/iran1205/iran1205.pdf http://www.hrw.org/legacy/backgrounder/mena/iran1205/2.htm

No comments: