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The Bloody Red Summer of 1988

25 Aug 2009 14:4937 Comments
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The 1980s were the bloodiest and darkest in the contemporary history of Iran. Ayatollah Khomeini (center), has his hand kissed. Seyyed Asadollah Lajevardi (lower right in white turtleneck and glasses), earned the nickname "the Butcher of Evin," while he was warden of the prison from 1981 to 1985.
By MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles | 25 Aug 2009

[TEHRAN BUREAU] The 1980s, particularly the period between 1980 and 1988, are the darkest and bloodiest in the history of contemporary Iran. In 1980, the country was still in the grip of the chaos of the 1979 Revolution. Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had been toppled, but the provisional government of Prime Minister Mehdi Bazargan did not last long either. They resigned on November 5, 1979, the day after Islamic leftist students overran the United States embassy in Tehran.

The reactionary right, which began to emerge at this time, was eager to clamp down on dissent. With their help, political freedom began to wane only a year into the Revolution. As more and more restrictions began to be put in place, internal strife began to increase dramatically as well. As always, the universities were the centers of dissent. Secular leftist students were particularly strong and well organized on campuses. The reactionary right managed to convince the Islamic leftists of the necessity of a crackdown.

To crackdown on dissent, and to purge the secular leftists from the universities, the political establishment began to speak of the necessity of a "cultural revolution." To formalize it, on Friday April 18, 1980, after Friday prayers, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini strongly attacked the universities in a speech.

He said,

We are not afraid of economic sanctions or military intervention [which were feared at that time because of the hostage crisis]. What we are afraid of is Western universities and the training of our youth in the interests of the West or East.

Many interpreted Ayatollah Khomeini's speech of April 18, 1980, as a signal for attacks on the universities. In the evening of that day, right-wing paramilitary forces called Phalangists, after the Lebanese Phalangist forces that were fighting the leftist forces in the civil war in that country, laid siege to the Teachers Training College of Tehran. The campus looked like a "war zone," according to a British reporter, and one student was reportedly lynched.

Other campuses around the country did not fare any better. Over the next two days, offices of leftist students at universities in Ahwaz, Isfahan, Mashhad and Shiraz were ransacked, leaving hundreds injured and at least 20 people dead. The violence then spread to several campuses in Tehran, particularly the University of Tehran, which has always been a hotbed of political dissent.

All the universities were shut down on June 12, 1980, and did not re-open until two years later. Officially, the goal was the "Islamization" of the universities, which was an absurd notion. (How, for example, do you "Islamicize" the natural and medical sciences, or engineering?) It was really just a guise for exercising oppression and repression.

While the country was in disarray, Saddam Hussein decided to invade Iran. He had never been happy with the 1975 Algiers Agreement signed by Iraq and the Shah intended to settle a border dispute. Add to that the threat of a revolution led by Shia clerics next door, especially when the Shiites made up the majority of the population in Iraq. Ayatollah Khomeini and his disciples were also using tough rhetoric to denounce Saddam Hussein.

Hussein also made a great miscalculation: He thought that with Iran's regular army disorganized and demoralized, and with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) still in its infancy, he could easily invade Iran and occupy a significant portion of it. That, in Hussein's thinking, would provoke a military coup by the remnants of the imperial army and get rid of the clerical leadership.

Hence, after some border skirmishes, Iraq's army invaded Iran on September 22, 1980, and began a war that lasted approximately eight years. "This war is a gift from God," said Ayatollah Khomeini. And from his perspective, it was. On the one hand, the war unified a nation that was getting tired of all the chaos and gave them a patriotic cause to rally around: defending the homeland. On the other, the war gave the extremist right wingers the perfect excuse, to use the threat of 'national security and territorial integrity of Iran' to brutally repress the opposition with much bloodshed.

At the same time, the Mojahedin-e Khalgh Organization (MKO), the most powerful opposition group, was constantly agitating the political scene. It was not totally their fault. The right-wing, and even some elements of the Islamic left, were opposed to the MKO, and played an important role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and the confrontation between the two camps.

Mohammad Reza Saadati, who was among the top leaders of the MKO [and who had been jailed by the Shah from 1973-1978], had also been arrested by the new regime on the charge of being a spy for the Soviet Union. [To the best of the author's knowledge, the charge was bogus]. However, his arrest outside the Soviet embassy had provided the right wing with much ammunition and propaganda to attack the MKO. Supporters of the MKO, and even very young, impressionable people who were simply selling the MKO mouthpiece, Mojahed, were constantly harassed and persecuted. Seventy-one of them were killed between February 1979 and June 1981.

The MKO's goal was gaining power at any cost, at the earliest time possible. The MKO leaders, Masoud Rajavi and Mousa Khiabani, had even proposed to Ayatollah Khomeini to "deliver to them the government," as they considered themselves the only group qualified to run the government. But Ayatollah Khomeini rejected the proposal. In fact, before the victory of the Revolution and while still in Paris, Ayatollah Khomeini had reached a consensus with others, including Mehdi Bazargan, Ayatollah Seyyed Mahmoud Taleghani, a popular progressive cleric who passed away on September 9, 1979, and others, that no top governmental position should be given to the MKO. Rajavi was also disqualified from running in the first presidential election in February 1980.

By early 1981, Abolhassan Banisadr, who had been elected the Islamic Republic's first president in February 1980 and had been a close aid of Ayatollah Khomeini during the Revolution, was also on a collision course with the Ayatollah and his circle of clerical aids, and the MKO was supporting him. On June 10, 1981, the Ayatollah sacked Banisadr as the commander-in-chief of the armed forces [according to Iran's Constitution, the Ayatollah was the commander-in-chief, but he had transferred the authority to Banisadr]. On June 19, the MKO issued a harshly-worded statement, calling Ayatollah Khomeini all kinds of names [the same ayatollah who, up until a few weeks earlier, had been called by the MKO "the Father," "the Leader," etc.], and declaring armed struggle against the government. Over the next two days, huge demonstrations were held by the MKO and the government against each other.

Lajevardi

Lajevardi (standing) and Ayatollah Gillani, who had two of his own sons executed.

On June 21, 1981, the Majles (parliament) impeached Banisadr; he was fired. By that point, he had already fled and gone into hiding in western Iran. The IRGC executed several of his close aids, including Hossein Navab, Rashid Sadrolhefazi, and Manouchehr Massoudi, an attorney. Their mouthpiece, Enghelab-e Eslami [Islamic Revolution] was also shut down. [Enghelab-e Eslami is still published in exile in France.] Dozens of others were also executed on June 21 and 22, including at least 12 young girls whose identities were not even known to the judiciary. Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammadi Gilani, the prosecutor of the revolutionary court, declared that he did not care about the identities of the young people whose execution he was ordering. Saeed Soltanpour, a poet and a leftist, was arrested during his wedding ceremony and later executed.

June 20, 1981, was also the last time that the author spoke with his younger brother, Ali. Living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attending graduate school, I called Ali, who was home in Tehran. I was worried about my family. Ali had just gotten home when I called. His voice was hoarse and angry. He had supported the Revolution and had actively participated in it, but had turned against the political establishment. I never spoke to him again. It was impossible to find him after that last conversation.

Almost three months later, on September 8, 1981, the author's brother was arrested, and was executed on September 17. In the morning of the day after his execution, the author's family received a phone call from the notorious Evin prison, notifying them that Ali had been executed, and that they should go there to take his body and belongings. When my father, an aunt, and a cousin went to Evin, they were told to go to the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery because Ali had already been buried. When they went there, they were told that no one with that name had been buried there.

Hopeful that there could have been a mistake made, they went home. But, in a television news program broadcast at 2:00 p.m. that day, the government announced the names of 180 people who had been executed two nights earlier, among them my brother. So, the entire family rushed to the cemetery, and this time they were told where Ali had been buried. The official policy at that time was not to confirm the burial of any executed person until his or her name had been officially announced. So, the life of a 23-year-old university student and patriot was abruptly ended.

The family was ordered to refrain from mourning the death of Ali publicly, and also told not to put a tombstone on his grave. They did both, and ran into a great deal of trouble for doing so. When they put in the tombstone, it was immediately broken by the Phalangists. The family installed two more, both of which met with the same fate. After the fourth tombstone was installed, the Phalangists stopped breaking it.

Many Muslims follow a tradition of visiting the grave of a loved one every Thursday afternoon for the first year after their death. The author's family closely observed this tradition. Every week, when they visited the cemetery, they were harassed by the Phalangists, who shouted that they hoped they -- the author's family -- would be dead soon too. When on the anniversary of the author's brother's death, the family had visited his grave, they were all arrested and taken to a police station nearby, interrogated for hours, and finally released. They refused to guarantee that they would not visit the cemetery again.

But that was not the end of our troubles. The author's father was forced to retire and stay home, because he was very outspoken against the clerics. He was threatened that if he did not stay home, he would be jailed. The author's youngest brother, who was 16 at that time, was arrested and jailed for a week. Twice he was blindfolded and taken to a mock execution. It was a miracle that he too was not executed.

The suffering of the author's family was neither unique, nor the worst. Thousands of families who lost their loved ones in the 1980s went through the same kind of suffering, sometimes under more dire circumstances. There were families who lost several loved ones to executions. Hundreds of thousands of families also lost loved ones to the Iran-Iraq war.

On June 28, 1981, there was a huge explosion in the headquarters of the Islamic Republican Party, a clergy-dominated political group founded by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ayatollah Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardabili, and others. Nearly 120, by some estimates, including the judiciary chief, Ayatollah Seyyed Mohammad Beheshti, and scores of other senior government and political figures were killed. The MKO considered Beheshti its archenemy.

To evoke emotions, however, the government announced that Beheshti and 72 -- not the correct number -- of his comrades had been killed. This was done in order to make a parallel between that and the events of October 10, 680 A.D. in Karbala, in modern day Iraq, when Imam Hossein, the Shias' third Imam, the grandson of the Prophet and one of the most revered figure in Iran, and 72 of his close supporters and family members were slain in an epic battle.

It is widely believed that the MKO carried out the bombing of the Islamic Republic headquarters, which took the bloody confrontation between the MKO and the government to a completely new level. The MKO began assassinating senior political figures, including many leading ayatollahs. Mohammad Ali Rajai, who had been elected President after Banisadr; Dr. Mohammad Javad Bahonar, the Prime Minister under Rajaei, were assassinated on August 30, 1981. In retaliation, the government would arrest and kill MKO members and supporters, showing no mercy, not even on the very young, and in some instances children. The youngest victim that the author is aware of was a girl named Fatemeh Mesbah, who was said to be 12 when killed. Ayatollah Mohammadi Gilani even ordered the execution of two of his own children.

At Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, the author's brother's grave is surrounded by those of other people who were executed around the same time, including very young people between the ages of 14 and 28. Next to the author's brother's grave is the resting place of a young medical doctor, who was executed at 28. His only "offense" was treating protesters who had been injured during street demonstrations. A cousin of the author met the same fate. He too was a medical doctor, and about the same age, when he too was executed for the same "offense." His brother and another cousin had already been killed during the Revolution.

Two other victims of the executions also evoke deep emotions in the author. Laid to rest in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery, in the same section of the author's brother's grave, are Maryam Golzadeh Ghafouri and her husband Alireza Haj Samadi, both MKO members. Maryam's father, Ali Golzadeh Ghafouri, taught the author to read and interpret the Holy Quran, when he was young. The author's father and several friends had started a weekly gathering on Tuesday nights to read the Holy Quran and study its teachings. Typically, 50 people would participate, and the place of the meeting would rotate between the members' homes. The author also participated in the gatherings, as his father was keen that he learn about the Holy Quran.

Each person in the gathering would read a few verses, or lines, from the Holy Quran. Golzadeh Ghafouri, who was not a clergy, would first correct the way we read, making sure that we pronounced the Arabic words correctly. Then, at the end, he would interpret what we had read. He was a devout Muslim, who was progressive, extremely knowledgeable and very kind, a true gentleman in every sense of the word, and a friend of the author's father. The author had the highest respect for him. He supported the Revolution, and was a deputy in the first Majles after the Revolution. But after his daughter and son-in-law were executed, he quit the Majles and went into seclusion. He has hardly been seen in public since.

No one was safe, not even those who had played prominent roles in the Revolution. One example was Ayatollah Hassan Lahouti, the first clerical commander of the IRGC, whose two sons were married to Rafsanjani's daughters. Lahouti went to Evin to see another son, who had been arrested -- apparently for being a member of the MKO -- and died there. Lahouti, who had been very critical of the clerics, was reportedly killed there.

The MKO tactic of assassinating government officials had been emulated from leftist Latin American guerrilla fighters. For example, when the Tupamaros were unable to take over the government of Uruguay in the 1960s through elections, they began a campaign of assassinations. The goal was to provoke the military to take harsh action, and then use the military's reaction as an excuse to further provoke the population against the government. The MKO was using the same tactic.

Mohammad Reza Saadati, a top MKO leader, was executed on July 27, 1981. Before his death, he had asked to be released in return for helping put an end to the MKO's armed struggle; but the hardliners did not care. They wanted blood and revenge. The next day, Banisadr and Rajavi fled Iran. A Boeing 707, flown by an air force pilot, took them first to Turkey and then to Paris, France. That began the process of the MKO going into exile. Eventually, MKO forces settled in Iraq, and worked with Saddam Hussein against Iran. The group, or what remains of it, is now listed as a terrorist organization by the United States State Department.

In February 1982, the MKO suffered a tremendous blow. Mousa Khiabani, the commander of the MKO forces in Iran, his pregnant wife Azar Rezai [whose brothers Ahmad, Reza and Mehdi had been killed under the Shah], and Ashraf Rabiei, Rajavi's wife, and 18 other MKO members were killed by the IRGC in a shootout. The three had managed to break through the IRGC forces, but their bulletproof Peugeot was hit by an RPG that killed everyone but Rajavi's 1-year-old son. Rajavi appointed Ali Zarkesh the new commander of the MKO forces in Iran. He was killed in 1988 during the MKO attacks on Iran from Iraq (see below).

The campaign of assassinations by the MKO, and the execution of young members and sympathizers of the MKO, continued for another two years. The right wing used that and the war with Iraq to also go after other political groups, such as the Paykar [confrontation], a Stalinist-Maoist group and offshoot of the MKO; Rah-e Kargar [worker's path], and a faction of the People's Fadaaiyan Guerrilla (which had played an important role in the struggle against the Shah), called the minority faction. Gradually, even the members and supporters of the Tudeh Party [the pro-Soviet communist party] and another faction of People's Fadaaiyan Guerrilla, called the majority faction, who had supported the government were no longer safe either. Thousands of people, mostly the young or very young, were summarily executed.

At the same time, the war with Iraq was raging on. By June 1982, Iranian forces had pushed back Iraq's forces from almost all of Iran's occupied territories. When Khorramshahr, Iran's most important seaport on the Persian Gulf, was liberated, there were celebrations all over Iran. The war should have ended then. Saddam was ready to accept a ceasefire.

But, according to a friend of the author from his college years in Iran, who was in a meeting with Ayatollah Khomeini [who was initially in favor of ending the war], commanders of the IRGC and government officials to discuss what to do about the war, the ideologues in the IRGC convinced the Ayatollah that they could easily overrun Iraq and liberate its Shiite part. They told the Ayatollah that it would not take that long to accomplish the goal. Ali Khamenei, then president, was apparently opposed to the continuation of the war as well.

The Ayatollah gave the IRGC commanders his blessing, but it was another six years before the war finally ended. The war ended only when the government, its resources, and the population were totally spent. Mir Hossein Mousavi, then Prime Minster, had informed Rafsanjani, then the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, that his government could no longer sustain the war efforts.

The government's own statistics indicated that during the war with Iraq, 273,000 soldiers were killed and another 700,000 injured, many with long-term wounds. Of the soldiers killed, 30,000 had died up to and including the time of liberation of Khorramshahr, and the rest in the remaining years of the war. Thus, close to 88% of the soldiers who died in the war did not have to, had Iran ended the war in June 1982.

At the same time that political activists were being killed, young soldiers were also dying in the war. Political freedom and the freedom of the press were nonexistent.

At the same time, two other events were taking place:

One, forced televised "confessions," similar to what the hardliners have staged over the past month. A wide range of people, from Noureddin Kianouri, secretary-general of the Tudeh Party, to Maryam Shirdel, a simple supporter of the MKO, were paraded in front of the camera to "confess." Shirdel was forced to say that she had sexual relations with an MKO member, a totally bogus confession.

The second phenomenon was tavvab saazi: forcing prisoners to repent for their "sins" and accepting the reactionary version of Islam that the interrogators and the tavvab saazaan -- the interrogators who "converted" the prisoners and put them back on the "right" path to "redemption" -- were feeding them with. Some of the prisoners became tavvab, they repented to save their lives; they had not really set aside their beliefs. A small number became tavvab and began serving their masters. The majority refused to "repent." Hossein Shariatmadari, the dreaded managing editor of Kayhan, the hardliners' mouthpiece, and Saeed Emami, the notorious gang leader who was responsible for the murder of scores of dissidents and intellectuals from 1988-1998, were two such tavvab saaz.

During this dark period, almost all government, judiciary and military officials either supported the bloody crackdown, or were silent. The most important person, practically the only one with stature, who courageously opposed the bloodshed was Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. He was the deputy to then Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, and tried his best to prevent the executions, and improve the conditions of those imprisoned. He visited the prisons frequently and ordered improvements. He also sent his representatives, such as Hojjatoleslam Ansari Najafabadi, to the prisons to visit and report to him.

The reports that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri was receiving were horrible. Thus, he began writing letters to Ayatollah Khomeini, his teacher and mentor, protesting the conditions in jails. In one letter in October 1986 that he mentions in his memoirs, he wrote,

Do you know that,

The crimes that are taking place in the jails of Islamic Republic did not even take place in the Shah's regime?

Many people have died due to torture?

In Shiraz's jail [in southern Iran] a young woman who was fasting [during the month of Ramadan] was executed for a very minor offense right after she broke her fast [in the evening]?

Some young girls have been forcefully possessed [raped]?

During the interrogation of young women very nasty profanities are used?

Many prisoners have become blind or deaf, due to torture, and nobody has helped [to treat them]?

In many jails they even prevent the prisoners from saying their prayers?

In some jails the prisoners do not see the light of the day for months?

Even after a prisoner is given a jail sentence, he/she is still beaten regularly?

I am sure that [if you talk to others about this letter] they will tell you that these are lies and he [Grand Ayatollah Montazeri] is naive.

Note the striking similarities between what Grand Ayatollah Montazeri reported to Ayatollah Khomeini in 1986 and the charges that Mehdi Karroubi, a leader of the reformists and the Green Movement, has been making about what takes place in Iranian jails.

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A happy camp: Lajevardi and colleagues.

There are many culprits in the killings and horrible treatment of detainees. But one in particular is Seyyed Asadollah Lajevardi, who had been jailed by the Shah's government several times. After the 1979 Revolution he was appointed the Tehran Prosecutor. When in June 1981 the MKO assassinated Mohammad Kachouei, the warden of the Evin prison, Lajevardi was appointed the warden. He even moved his family to Evin.

One of Lajevardi's main claims was that he was an excellent tavvab saaz, boasting that 95% of his "guests" at Evin prison eventually gave a tape-recorded "confession" and "praised" the Islamic Republic. In reality, he was a brutal, possibly mentally ill man, known aptly as the "Butcher of Evin." He was responsible for thousands of executions, including those in 1988.

By 1988 Iran was totally exhausted and could not continue the war. On July 20, 1987, the United Nations Security Council had already passed Resolution 598, calling on Iran and Iraq to cease the hostilities. But it took Ayatollah Khomeini one more year to accept the ceasefire -- "to drink the poison," as he put it.

Right after the ceasefire went into effect, the MKO forces attacked Iran from Iraq in an operation they called Amaliyat-e Forough-e Javidaan [Operation Eternal Light], but referred to as Amaliyat-e Mersaad [Operations Trap] by the IRGC. The MKO forces were defeated easily and had heavy losses -- at least 1700 according to the MKO, and many more according to other sources.

Evidence indicates that before the ceasefire went into effect and the MKO attacks began, the Islamic Republic was already thinking about eliminating most, if not all, the political prisoners. Ayatollah Khomeini had ordered the formation of a secret commission to look into executing the MKO prisoners, as well as secular leftists, and had secretly authorized their execution. The former were classified as the mohaarebs [those who fight against God], while the secular leftists were considered as mortads [those not believing in God].

First, the MKO prisoners were interviewed in Evin and Gohar Dasht prisons. They were first asked their affiliation. If they responded "the Mojahedin," that would be the end of the interview. The prisoners would be taken to the gallows after writing their wills. If, however, they responded "the Monafeghin," the hypocrites, the name that the government had given to the MKO, they would be asked the next six questions: (i) Are you willing to denounce your former colleagues? (ii) Are you willing to denounce them in front of cameras? (iii) Are you willing to help us hunt them down? (iv) Will you name secret sympathizers? (v) Will you identify those whose repentance were fake? (vi) Are you willing to go to the war front and walk on the minefields? If the answer to any of the questions was not affirmative, the prisoner would be hanged.

The secular leftists would be asked even more questions: (i) Are you a Muslim? (ii) Do you believe in God? (iii) Is the Holy Quran the word of God? (iv) Do you believe in heaven and hell? (v) Do you accept Muhammad to be the last of the prophets? (vi) Will you publicly recant historical materialism? (vii) Will you denounce your former beliefs before the cameras? (viii) Do you fast during the fasting month of Ramadan? (ix) Do you pray and read the Holy Quran? (x) Would you rather share a cell with a Muslim or non-Muslim? (xi) Will you sign an affidavit that you believe in God, the Prophet, the Holy Quran and in Judgment Day? (xii) When you were growing up, did your father pray, fast and read the Holy Quran?

The last question was very important. If the prisoner responded "no," then he could not be held accountable for the fact that he did not believe in Islam, and would escape hanging. But, many prisoners did not know about this.

Thousands of political prisoners were then executed in the summer of 1988. The majority of them were MKO members, but many also belonged to other groups. Many of them were buried in mass graves in the Khavaran cemetery, east of Tehran. Recently, the government tried to convert the cemetery to a park in an apparent effort to erase all signs of the crime.

The exact number of those who were executed is unknown. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri puts the number at up to 3800. Others have made a list of a little over 4500. There are estimates as high as 12,000. All those who were executed had been given jail sentences, and many had actually finished their sentences. Many were college or even high school students. Almost none had committed a serious offense, for the simple fact that they would have been executed right after their arrest, if they had. Roughly 10% of the executed were women.

The executions constitute a crime against humanity. Those who were responsible should be put on trial by the International Criminal Court. Some of them, such as Hojjatoleslams Jafar Nayyeri, Ebrahim Raeisi, and Mostafa Pourmohammadi, Ahmadinejad's first Interior Minister, still hold important positions within the political system.

Grand Ayatollah Montazeri strongly protested the mass killings, and resigned. He was then attacked savagely by the right-wing extremists, but the Ayatollah never backed down, which explains the immense respect that he enjoys today. Mehdi Bazargan and his Freedom Movement colleagues also protested the killings, and were detained, but released later.

The exact motivation for the killings is not known. It has been claimed by various officials of the Islamic Republic, most recently two weeks ago by Hossein Saffar Harandi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance who resigned three weeks ago and is a former IRGC commander, that they were killed in retaliation for the MKO attacks from Iraq.

But, as mentioned earlier, there is evidence that the preparation for the killings had been started even before the ceasefire. For example, Anoushirvan Lotfi, a student in Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tehran in the 1970s [he and the author were students there at the same time] and a member of People's Fadaaiyan, had been executed in May 1988, two full months before the ceasefire and the MKO attacks. Indeed, if the MKO attacks were the reason, why were the secular leftist prisoners such as Lotfi, who opposed the MKO attacks, killed?

In addition to Lotfi, whom the author remembers from his day at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tehran, the author knew at least three other people among the executed. One was a childhood friend. Two others were brothers of his close college friends. One was a brother of the author's friend who was in the meeting between Ayatollah Khomeini and the IRGC commanders when they discussed whether they should stop the war with Iraq in 1982 [he quit working for the government, after his brother was executed]. The other had spent eight years in jail beyond his sentence, was about to be released, but was executed instead. His family vowed that they would not put a tombstone on his grave until the Islamic Republic is overthrown.

After the events of 1988, Lajevardi retired and went back to his work in Tehran's Bazaar. He lived in the same neighborhood as the author's parents, and would pass by their house in Tehran every morning to go to work a couple of years after his retirement. For years, my mother, who never recovered from the loss of my brother, would sit every morning by the window of the kitchen on the first floor of our house, looking outside and waiting for Lajevardi to pass by. As she would see him passing by, she would start reading Quranic verses, saying, "Oh God, if he had any role in my son's murder, punish him in any way you deem appropriate."

Lajevardi was assassinated on August 22, 1998, presumably by remnants of the MKO in Iran [the author personally doubts that the culprits were the MKO], a year after the author's father passed away after suffering from three years of illness. According to his doctors, his illness had largely been caused by the stress and anxiety of losing my brother. So, he did not live long enough to hear about Lajevardi's death.

The author's mother lived long enough to hear about Lajevardi's assassination in 1998. After his assassination, she told the author, "I never wanted to live longer than my children. But now that Ali is gone, I have only one more wish: to live 30 years after Ali, so that I could be put to rest in Ali's grave when I die." According to the Islamic teachings, a grave could be opened after 30 years and a newly dead person can be laid to rest in it. She continued, "If that happens, I know that I'll be resting next to Ali forever."

She did not get her wish. She passed away in December 2006, 25 years after her son had been executed. She never got over the fact that she was living, but her young son had been killed. The author too has not been able to get over the fact that he did not get to see his brother one last time.

Copyright (c) 2009 Tehran Bureau

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37 Comments

Incredible. I really don't know what to say. I'll think on all of this for a while.


I've opinions about the Imposed War that are not consistent with yours, but I don't even want to share them after reading your personal story about revolution.


Khoda hefzat konad.

Anonymous / August 25, 2009 11:52 AM

They killed, killing, raped and rapping the sons and daughters of those whom supported Khomeini. What did you expect freedom, prosperity?

As long as Iranian believe in Islam they do not deserve anything better.

A nation who has forgotten its glorious past and prays to Arab GOD will suffer. Khomeini, Lajevardi, and Gillani are just a small examples of Islam crimes in Iran for 1400 years.

Gooya / August 25, 2009 12:03 PM

Where were the following people when the political prisoners were getting killed?

Rafsanjani(President, Speaker of the Majlis)

Khatami (President)

Mosavi (Prime Minister)

Karobi (speaker of the Majlis)

Confuse / August 25, 2009 1:25 PM

@Gooya:


Come on, this is a very trivial and stupid comment. Being evil and killing innocent people is not a specific Arab or Muslim "feature", it's sadly something humans has always possessed. Look at the history of the last few thousand years and you will find MANY examples like this and the overwhelming majority was committed by non-Muslims.

Even our glorious Persian ancestors from pre-islamic era, has killed many many innocent people in cold blood (but off course its unfair to compare them to todays "standard".)


So no "evilness" is not a definite characteristic of a specific group (race, religion, nationality, etc.). In my opinion the real dangerous people are the highly-conservative thinking, NON-open minded people; characterizing everything with trivial black/white logic.


So ironically it is people thinking like you, that's doing all these killings.


(And no, I am NOT a muslim and I am very much against the Islamic Republic).


Heidar

Heidar / August 25, 2009 2:08 PM

thanks for such a detailed anaylsis of the islamic republic.conclusion,is that nothing has really changed in iran.we as a nation cannot debate,and have different opinions without killing each other.my way or the highway.as long as we continue to be this way,we will not have the true democracy that we wish to have.history has taught us ,that as great of a nation that we are.we have many inadequecies politically,that we need to heal and grow,before the ultimate democracy that we yearn ,takes place.it is very sad.

i love iranian people and i am very proud of my heritage,but these things and the state of affairs in iran makes me sad.

faye moghtader / August 25, 2009 3:45 PM

Prof. Sahimi has correctly concluded:


"But, as mentioned earlier, there is evidence that the preparation for the killings had been started even before the ceasefire. For example, Anoushirvan Lotfi, a student in Faculty of Engineering of the University of Tehran in the 1970s [he and the author were students there at the same time] and a member of People's Fadaaiyan, had been executed in May 1988, two full months before the ceasefire and the MKO attacks. Indeed, if the MKO attacks were the reason, why were the secular leftist prisoners such as Lotfi, who opposed the MKO attacks, killed?"


When you are going to die anyway, you might as well fight honorably. Isn't this what Mojahedin have done? No matter what they would had done, they would have been killed. All they asked was their democratic rights. They did not start the conflict, Khomeini did. They defended themselves as well as they could against a monster. A monster that still kills and destroys.


I find it amazing that Dr. Sahimi divides the blame equally between the mullahs and Mojahedin.

By the way Poor-Mohammadi (member of death council) was intelligence minister in Mr. Khatami administration. Considering the in depth knowledge of author I find it interesting, he forgot mention this.

There are no right or left winger in this regime. They are all Facists!

shahin / August 25, 2009 3:52 PM

Dear Author,


Having survived the hell, I deeply feel your sense of loss. God blesses your parents for enormous pain they suffered until they passed away. God blesses your brother who like many of his generation suffered burnt, cut, and torture for the sake of freeedon to enlighten our homeland.


I should also mention that Mr. Golzadeh Ghafouri also had two sons who were executed. They tried to interview them on TV but were not successful. May god bless them.

km / August 25, 2009 4:13 PM

The people who saw Khomeini's face in the moon were not able to see the real forces behind the revolution. The oil contract was up for renewal on 1979 and the oil consortium wanted to renew it as is, however The Shah disagreed.


British decided to create a bigger than life figure out of Khomeini, named it Imam and his face was seen in Moon and that is how the revolution was stolen. Kill two birds with one stone: renew the oil contract and create a barrier against communist Soviets. The stupidity was so deep that after the fall of the Shah Sadegh Khalkhali was to destroy The Persepolis.


I'm not a big fan of The Shah, he committed many mistakes and I agree there was lack of political freedom but we enjoyed social and economic freedom unmatched in Middle East. Well we lost it and in return we got Islam, Imam, summary executions and rapes, eight years of war, total destruction of our basic infrastructures and the whole 9 yard, what else do you want?

Gooya / August 25, 2009 4:27 PM

Dear Shahin:


Thank you for your comments.


Pourmohammadi was not the intelligence minister of Khatami. His first was Dorri Najafabadi, the second Ali Younesi.


I did not divide the blame equally between the government and the MKO equally. In fact, I did not take any position. I only stated the facts. But, I do believe that, just like the leaders of the IRI, the leadership of the MKO also shares part of the blame.


Dear Gooya:


With all due respect - and I sincerely mean respect - your first comment is totally uncalled for. There is one God, worshipped by all who believe in Him. There is no such thing as an Arab God. A comment like that is borderline racist. If Iranians were Christian or Jewish, would you be talking about a Palestinian God (where Jesus and Moses came from)? I highly doubt it.


The problem is not God. The problem is abusing Him for a political agenda. What one must advocate is separation of church and state. Once that is done, religion becomes a private matter. In that case, one can worship what one wants.


Saying, "as long as Iranians believe in Islam, they do not deserve any better," is another prejudiced comment. You think that the people who demonstrated in Tehran last month reject Islam? I doubt most do. What they reject, in my opinion, is using their religion by the establishment for a political purpose.


Who says Christians have fared any better? Over the past decade alone, close to 1.5 million Muslims have been killed by Christians in Bosnia (350,000), Iraq (up to 1 million), Afghanistan (at least 200,000), and so on. Why don't you protest those?

Muhammad Sahimi / August 25, 2009 5:17 PM

From the history paragraphs above as an European I can learn,

- you are talking about violent developments in your country.


- There are also some acceptable starts of analysis in aspects of living in human societies, in different centuries, under different political and different religious structures.


- But after starting the synthesis to your best knowledge, apart of any consequent research, there are only some of your conclusions, which are acceptable in a more logical sence of seperate fact finding under different conditions and surroundings.


- According to the ideas of early roots of "momo-theistical religions" (yewish, christian, islam) you are not aware, this religions are widely different to other "multi-theistic" religions. And these different groups of religions show widely accepted different characters: the more aggressive monotheisms and the more peaceful multitheisms.


- And if you look further, you will find out: all state and government structures in the world with some stability, justice, freedom, welfare and respect on national and international aspects are ...


- either successful combinations of multitheisms and emerged government power structures in democracy under parliamental control (king or president, 2 houses of political power, divided powers of judicatives and jurispudence i.e. lawmakers, lawcontrollers, administratives and police, besides more or less direct citizens controlled initiatives)


- or less succesful combinations of mononotheisms and combined religious power, theacratic systems in serious conflict with democratic structures, and not to be handled without repeatedly revolutions,


- or more successful combinations of so called laizistic state and government structures, where its former aggressive monotheism is correctly separated from ruling the society. This with respect to their ancient religion, which was founded and perhaps necessary in the early beginning for healing of ancesters soul during heavy performed wars with unexperienced victims all taking place and starting in the areas of todays Middle East, Asia and Europe.


- Compared to reigning under typical multitheism like Buddhism or Hinduism, the reigns under monotheism religions have ever been in trouble caused by impossible control of modern developments under the rule of ancesters religion, which never could be acceptable transfered from the past forms of living and challanges to the challanges of modern live.


- In consequence all western countries where this research was done, or had harsh experience with revolutions like France, they immediately arranged strict separation of government ruling and religious care for the souls of their even different believes. This was the only way to form nations accepting citizens from all over the world and live in prosperity und democratic development.


I would be pleased, if some readers would understand my thoughts and could accept. That would be a large step for peace and mutual respect of global nations. And we all need peace urgently, as further challenges on earth will need our co-operation of all nations.

Frank / August 25, 2009 6:51 PM

Please do the necessary corrections in spelling. I faced some terrible errors later after submitting.

Frank / August 25, 2009 7:04 PM

Mr. Sahimi,


I am very sorry for the loss of your family members especially your young brother and also the suffering you and your family have had to endure. Now I understand why there is so much emotion and a sort of intensity behind you writings. I have read many articles at Tehran Bureau site. I check this site daily. You can say by now I am addicted to it however none of the other articles have the same draw or the same feeling as yours.


But what amazes me is that from Khomeini to the reactionary right to the other political/military figures of this regime since 1980's up to now, so many crimes have been committed and so much blood has been shed by these so called devout Muslims. It's unbelievable and after 30 years not much has changed and I am not sure what will change in the future. These people are much worse the the Pahlavi's and they have a lot of practice and experience in oppression,brutally and shedding blood whenever they see fit.


I still continue hoping though.

Minoo / August 26, 2009 12:07 AM

This country has such a great legacy of art, literature, poetry and culture.It is unfortunate that it is being run by a bunch of thugs.


The history of the last three decades in Iran reads like an atlas of man's inhumanity to man. The situation is all the worse because the government is the face of Shia Islam. It is best to let Allah decide who should live and who should die rather than murdering the opposition in the name of Allah. Claiming authority from Allah to do evil is blasphemy. Khameni should consider that. He and Ahmadinejad treat the citizens of Iran as badly as the Israelis treat the Palestinians.

Rather than protecting it's citizens this government has a

policy of blaming the victims. How can a society that has witnessed and endured torture, repression and pain emerge unscathed?

Do you wonder what might have happened if Montazeri succeeded Khomeni? would political killings have continued? What about Sistani? If Shia clerics had to take a vow of poverty what would happen? Would all the mullahs disappear?

Why do loyalties shift so often among the ruling elite of the moment?

outsider / August 26, 2009 12:31 AM

Prof. Sahimi: Do you have any opinion on many reports of rapes from the beginning of revolution and how much khomeini knew about it? Likes of following report, claiming that a girl was raped 36 times, or that Saeed Mortazavi is claimed to have personally raped zahra kazemi?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qof4Zg05gA8&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Eiranian%2Ecom%2Fmain%2Fblog%2Fbabak%2Dkhorramdin%2Ftorture%2Dislamic%2Dregime%2Diran&feature=player_embedded#t=429


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld0pgliesI4&feature=related


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6gApzzbVCY&feature=related


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGcMOjzdy3I&feature=related


If true I need JUSTICE for these people.

Shams / August 26, 2009 1:25 AM

I read this article with interest. My own views of the events in that time are mostly concurrent with yours except for a few minor things which are not that significant to mention.


I feel very sorry about your personal tragedies and hope all of those who have been directly or indirectly involved in killing, torturing, raping, plundering and jailing an entire nation in the past 30 years are held accountable for their crimes and atrocities one day in a free and democratic Iran.


One should remember that people like Rafsanjani, Mousavi, Karrubi..... were/are all aware of what has been going on and have been an integral part of this regime. These beasts can not become our saviours overnight. The people of Iran, hopefully, will remember this and not fall into their trap once again.

Mehrdad / August 26, 2009 6:43 AM

Inspiring piece Dr Sahimi.

Amir / August 26, 2009 8:51 AM

Dear Prof. Sahimi,


I feel the psychological impact these tragedies have caused your family and the rest. Even if these tragic events have passed, the terrible trauma remains.

"I wonder why they have taken away the peaceful

and lonely shores of my childhood. I enjoyed

my childhood. So take me back to the shores

of my childhood, where I was warm, happy and

content, like the children whose childhood

and the right to enjoy it are now being

destroyed."


The world has seen enough sorrows. We can no longer tolerate the sights of parents grieving and weeping over their young, of young people crying in pain. The world views with grave concern the current political and human rights crisis in Iran.


Iranians have long dreamt that one day, they shall answer the clarion call to rise up and build a nation that shall be respected by all peoples and exalted by the Almighty.


No nation can achieve greatness unless it believes in something -- and that something has the moral dimensions to sustain a great people. Democracy, justice, equality, freedom, economic recovery and development, the enhancement of individual integrity - these are all intangible and elusive goals. But they are essential to the peoples survival and progress.

Humanity has no nationality, it knows no boundaries. Mankind is one. When part of it suffers, the whole suffers and a part of it dies.

shetty / August 26, 2009 9:12 AM

I am deeply touched by your narrative. Timely and wise words indeed. Thank you Professor.

shetty / August 26, 2009 9:24 AM

Thank you Mr. Sahimi for this well written and timely article. Your article is especially noteworthy because it achieves two important goals that have the potential to obstruct one another if attempted unskillfully: to re-tell the bloody and complicated history of Iran right after the Revolution and to convey your own personal story of loss. It remains objective while discussing deeply felt emotions and that is a great achievement. (Just one thing: I got tired of reading "the author" too many times, I think you should just go ahead and use I and my. No problem with that!)

Again thank you,

Setareh

Setareh Sabety / August 26, 2009 9:30 AM

I was a university student in the 80's. I had to go through the infamous "cultural revolution" that Dr. Sahimi has noted in his great essay. When the schools reopened after 2.5 years, a big number of my former classmates and also professors were nowhere to find. Some of them had been executed and some had been fired (pAksAzi) and were later jailed and executed. One of my best and brightest professors who was globally recognized in his field was also executed in 1981.


During those bloody years, about 10-12 young girls and boys (16-22yrs) from the families living only in my small street were arrested and later executed. Some of them were arrested only because they were found on the street carrying a flyer from one of the opposition groups!!


Those years were the darkest and bloodiest years of the islamic republic regime. The atrocities that the regime has been committing in the recent months have been universally publicized thanks to the advances of technology and internet. But we should not forget what misery this criminal regime has brought upon the Iranian people since its inception 30 years ago and especially in the bloody 80's. It is not too late to use the new technology/internet to expose and re-expose the regime for all of its crimes to the young generation who might not have any memory of those dark years and to the entire world. Thanks again to Dr. Sahimi for taking a step towards that goal.

UniStudenIn80s / August 26, 2009 12:06 PM

Very sad and tragic if true but not unusual in the history of any revolution except this was meant to be different. It connected itself with higher ideals and with the advent of the Global Revolution of Imam al Mahdi(pbwh) to bring in a new era of Divine Justice and Peace.


Is it however too late to change the script of this particular story and can those who are seeking to reform the situation do any better. But is there any other path out there? I doubt it. Brutality seems to be the order of things even within the so called democratic systems of the West except that it is colourfully hidden away. Ask the Muslim detainees of Guantanamo or those who have been detained in Britain.


I don't know what the answer is except for constant struggle until we meet our Creator.


In the meantime I pray for the healing of your afflictions and perhaps in the end such matters have to be left in the hands of God as your mother did.

rezvan / August 26, 2009 12:11 PM

Thank you for this truly moving and devastating essay. My heart is still rises in my throat for the agony of Iran. All the blood and sacrifice will not obscure the beauty that is Iran and her people. I long for the day when the land of Iran can share its soul with the rest of the world in harmony.

S. / August 26, 2009 2:18 PM

Wow. That was an incredible piece. I'm sorry for all that your family has been put through. But your article taught me a lot that I didn't know, beyond the stories of my once-POW-uncle and mother and her sisters that were university students in Tehran during the 80s. Thank you so much.

Neda / August 26, 2009 2:55 PM

I did not intend to insult anyone.


As for my own story, I was a second year student at the University of Tabriz (Azarabadegon) during 1978-1979. During the revolution I was warned by an informed family friend about the 1979 Oil contract. He clearly explained the forces behind the civil unrest and why the only beneficiaries of the unrest are the Big Oil Companies.


After Imams arrival to Iran I listened to Imam's speeches, I realized that there was no hope. An Imam who was not able to speak Farsi fluently with Dark Age's ideas and most importantly an Imam who thought Islam and martyrdom are the answer to Iran's problem.

Based on our family friend advice I left Iran shortly after the fall of Bakhtiar's government.


During the Summer of Blood and Madness I lost two blood cousins and a very dear high school friend in Evin. As far as I know they were buried in an unmarked mass grave in Khavaran. My aunt still does not know where her children are buried.


Unfortunately, Iran is heading toward a savage brutal Islamic state police. Because Islam does not believe in separation of church and state. The regime is working toward destroying the last bit of freedom. To the murderers who are running this show few months of civil unrest is meaningless. Once they tighten their grip on power, they will make 1988 (1368) summary executions, unmarked mass graves a walk in the park. Summer of 1988 (1368) was a warm up for these murderers.


I was right when I left Iran and I'm afraid I'm right this time too.

Gooya / August 27, 2009 12:57 AM

Basiji hiyeh kooni

Agha Irani / August 27, 2009 2:54 AM

I can understand that in hindsight, the continuation of the war after 1982 was not at all successful. However, at the time the correct decision was made to continue the war. Saddam Hussein saw his neighbour as weak and vulnerable and made the decision to invade. Iran would and should never bow to such an enemy - in any circumstance, otherwise we would be flushing our dignity down the toilet. It was right to continue the war to preserve Iran as a whole. If you wish to criticise the war and the choice of an end date (with the luxury of knowing exactly what happened considering it is now over 20 years later), then an appropriate time would be when Iran had made much gains into Iraq. So please don't take the moral high ground by using your opposition to the regime to criticise every decision made since the revolution, as some decisions were made on a national scale rather than on a political scale, and those decisions would be completely indifferent if any other Iranian was in charge.

Sam / August 27, 2009 9:01 AM

I'm sorry to hear about your losses Mr. Shaimi.

Maziar / August 27, 2009 12:20 PM

The biggest reason that the regime continued the war with Iraq after retaking Khoramshahr was the political benefits that it could reap while it was still involved in a war. They used the war as a big excuse to crush any dissent and to continue cracking down on the opposition. All the atrocities that Dr. Sahimi has so well described went on against a backdrop of war. They used the war as a pretext to get rid of the biggest oppositin groups and consolidate their power. Their slogan for continuing the war was "the path to Ghods goes through Baghdad". Was that path really in the national interest of Iran as suggested by the last commenter? War was a God given gift to this regime and they squeezed every single drop off of it until they couldn't anymore and they had to drink the poison. The regime could not have possibly consolidated its power, the way they did so brutally, if there was no war and in the process they sent huge droves of mostly young iranians to the war fronts to be killed there.


The same is true now. They are dying for another war to happen (with America or Israel or ...?) so they can continue their rule for another 30 or more bloody years.

UniStudenIn80s / August 27, 2009 5:15 PM

An imposed war is never of any benefit for a nation. I totally understand your position (previous post) and I agree with it too. However, the point I wanted to make clear, which I don't think I did, was that the war was an issue of nationality and patriotism, where as the revolution and internal struggles, whatever their outcomes, were exactly that - internal. They were an Iranian creation, and Iranian problem and thus needed (and still need) an Iranian solution. However, Iraq, an external force, compromised our nationality, our pride and our dignity, therefore requiring a united Iranian response. Why should Saddam Hussein invade and then expect a ceasefire after realising his pursuit is futile? Western media has also jumped onto the bandwagon of calling this war a product of Khomeini - but, whether you like it or not, this is completely false.


It is just extremely unfortunate that the regime was able to profit off of this war, but the war effort itself should be without question. Our brothers and sisters died because Saddam Hussein invaded our land.

Sam / August 27, 2009 11:24 PM

As an Athiest, all forms of religion are man-made nonesense to me. But everyone has the right to chose for themselves in what they believe in.


The reality is that All organized religions cause nothing but hate, death and destruction. Some may argue that religion has helped people thru times, but at what price?


Throughout history all religions have used brutality to oppress people and force their ideas on society. Some have evolved and others haven't. Unfortunatley, Islam is one those religions that hasn't. It is possibly the most violent religion in modern times.


religion usually feeds on the missery of the poor and the uneducated. Weather it's the unfair and inhumane treatment of Palestinians by Israel, or the Imperialist policies of the U.S. and Great Britain towards oil the countries that plays right into the hand of the Islamists.


What is sad about Iran is that many of the people who support this nonesense are well educated people.


To argue that religion isn't bad and that it's bad people who use religion in the wrong way, is like saying guns and bombs don't kill people. People kill people.

Armen / August 28, 2009 5:59 AM

UniStudenIn80s, I think your analysis is absolutely correct. The Iraqi invasion was used by the Iranian government to crack down on any dissent. In fact, the government is still using various conflicts (such as the Israeli-Palestinian one) to give itself and its terrorist activities legitimacy (because it has no legitimacy in Iran). The mass execusion of political prisoners in the 1980s is one of the most horrific things that has happened in Iran's comntemporary history. In addition, due to the government's prolonging of the Iran-Iraq war, so many innocent countrymen lost their lives. The brutality of the Islamic Republic will be recorded in history books and I truly hope that we will see a free Iran soon and that these dark ages will only be a bad memory for us and future generations.

Sara Irani / August 28, 2009 6:22 PM

This is a marvellous site for it's so interesting articles. I have learned so much about Iran.


Dr Sahimi here is heart-rending and so informative.


I appreciate many of the comments, they add much of their own testimony and good opinions.


Gooya, I tend to agree with you as living in France and being atheist myself (although not always), I do think that finally no religion is compatible with democracy and civilised societies. The problem now for many european or other countries is the muslim immigrant influence, they try to nibble away at our secular institutions and shock people with their burkas and veiled children. This is quite worrying and also to politicians because they have to juggle with the right responses and their opponents who often use this as arguments.


To Frank, I also wanted to think about precisely what you spoke of. How countries develop according to their religions. Having been a buddhist for some time, I now think that although they seem very peaceful, it's a fatalist religion and very manipulative. Not all buddhist countries have (had) peaceful regimes, Cambodia, Burma, Vietnam.. in fact India even if multitheist and maybe the biggest and longest democracy is still victim to it's barbarian traditions.


I think that the difference within the three monotheisms is the fact that Christians managed to reform and allow science and wealth. For judaism, they were different as widespread then coming together so had to unite and were greatly aided. If Christians in the world had remained only roman catholics, I doubt there would be much wealth or science :-)


What is so terrible in this article and what is going on today again in Iran, but in so many other countires in the world is the fact that human nature is so close to barbarity. The human can even change overnight to kill his neighbour, his own children. This happened in ex-yugoslavia. Individuals, through a tough upbringng or even some apparently small reason can become psychologically deranged and commit terrible crimes. Others do it because they are indoctrinated with fanatical religions or cults.


The human is very fragile and as seen here, can suffer all his life from events. This obviously creates problems of revenge and the vicious circle of violence. In societies with 'honor' as a strong cultural principle, it can go on for generations.


Our whole cultures are ambiguous as we all have armies and train them to kill and hate the ennemy. Yet we don't accept killing and even have death penalties in some democratic countries. This is all very hypocritical and confusing.


For Iran, I'm pessimist because I don't see how a democracy can form with all the opponants killed in the past. Those who survive today but could be arrested tomorrow are the few remaining, but have no experience in leading a huge country into a different regime, that has no history of typical democracy. However, I do have a glimmer of hope, especially with today's (and tomorrow's !) technology that will prove more and more difficult to hide crimes and news.

pessimist / August 29, 2009 11:26 AM

Excellent piece, doc!


These are the final months of the islamic republic and its khomeinist cult.

Nothing can change the truth.

Khomeini will not be seen as an imam (anymore) but as another iranian stalin or hitler in 50 years from now on.

Khomeini's tomb will be demolished and the graves of these political prisoners will be green, packed with flowers!

And our true flag (blank or shiro khorshid) will once again dance above the Tomb of Cyrus The Great, our true Father.

And it will be held by our beautiful and classy women in our new Azadi stadium during high class international cups and competitions in our beloved capital.


And those who are IR agents, those who benefit from this evil system will see that their deeds are fruitless and they will melt like snow under the sun.


The whole of this cancer called Islamic Republic will be eridicated, just to be sure it will never return. There is nothing Mousavi or Karroubi can do about it.

If they admit the crimes of their imam they can be forgiven, and otherwise their lives will stay dark and miserable.


You can call me a dreamer, but this all will be realised very soon.

Not because I say so, but because the Iranian nation deserves it.


Long live Iran zamin

Long live the children of Kurosh e Bozorg

Payande bad Irane Javedan

Kuroshe_e_Bozorg / August 31, 2009 4:21 PM

Thanks for the hard but good work.

leila / September 7, 2009 4:05 PM

Thanks Professor Sahimi for writing about it....yes many of us remember those dark years as children and are wounded by it. We sometimes don't know how these sorrows are deeply rooted in us! how our Iran was being butchered by war and suppression.As a child I was thinking every family had someone either died in the war, or left the country or, in jail. Enough of Islam rule we spent our best years of our lives going through all those sufferings!
Apart from executions many spent a good part of their lives in jail. They had lists and addresses and went from home to home something that is still puzzling!!!!
Lajevardi was killed by the some in the government to cover up many secrets!!! we look forward to days that all those dirty secrets be disclosed. Everybody in Tehran Bazar etc knew that Lajevardi was killed just like Saeed Emami to hide the real perpetrators. Hard to remember, hard to forget!

Nina / December 21, 2009 9:25 AM

For those who can bear reading the following letters about the mass executions please check this link:
http://www.shahbaziir.blogfa.com/post-23.aspx

Anonymous / December 21, 2009 9:26 AM

Dr. Sahimi:
As a foreign, I am not iranian, I am not muslim, religion(s) doesn't interest me, I knew a bit about the madness you described in your article.
Today, we know a bit more, about the forces behind the so called "islamic revolution". Is now a fact that some american political factions, together with french politival etablishment, and also british were the real forces behind the happenings and behind the emergency of the visible symbol. Khomeny. Their objectif: use the mad forces sudden liberated against Soviet Union and China. In fact was all about the "Grat Game". And still continues.
I am afraid that the Green Movement is trapped inside this struggle. At present Iram is the frontier - I mean, Russia and China will not allow
an Iran controlled by USA. When Green Movement supporters chant - "Death to Rusiia, deatg to China" they are making a huge political mistake.
I also want to state my simpathy with your loss, and I just can imagine your pain.
However Mr. Mir Mousavi is a partner in the Bloody Summer of 1988. Mousavi shares a great fear with the right wing factions . the fear that the "Islamic Republic" can be erased.
Please accpet my regards, and wishes for a bright future for that great nation that is Iran.

Antonio Alves Lico / January 17, 2011 4:51 PM