Only 170 of 4,000 inmates of one prison remained, says survivor of Iran’s 1988 massacre

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, October 31, 2021—Millions of people across Iran have seen their lives devastated following the summer 1988 massacre that left over 30,000 political prisoners executed by the mullahs’ regime. Most of the victims, above 90 percent based on numerous accounts, were members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), indicating how the regime specifically targeting to eradicate the very entity it considers, to this day, as the main threat to its dictatorship.

“I was arrested in 1982 for supporting the MEK and I spent ten years in the regime’s prisons. On July 30, 1988, they took to me to the general ward of the prison. Upon my return I realized the situation was not normal. My cellmates told me the authorities were separating the prisoners based on their sentences… Very few of us were left in the cell,” said Mr. Mojtaba Akhgar of the early days leading to the summer 1988 massacre.

“I had communicated through morse with others in adjacent cells. I found out who was taken for execution. On August 6, 1988, they took us from that cell to the ‘Death Corridor’ where I waited for several hours. They called my name, and I was taken to a room facing the Death Commission with Ebrahim Raisi as its chair,” he added.

“They took me out after a couple of questions, and I was sitting in the death corridor. I saw numerous prison officials, including those known as Naserian and Hamid Abbassi [aka Hamid Noury], and other guards taking prisoners to the death commission, then transferring them to the end of the corridor, where they were lined up to go to the gallows. We were blindfolded in the death corridor, but we managed to see the events by slightly removing them. I saw one prisoner, Nasser Mansouri, on a stretcher. He was under heavy pressure to provide information about other prisoners. He had refused, and when the guards were out of the room, he jumped out of the third-floor window, severing his spinal cord from the fall. He was always on a stretcher, and I saw he was taken to the death commission despite his conditions,” Mr. Akhgar continued.

“After a few brief moments the guards brought Nasser out of the room and took him to the end of the corridor. They took 10 or 12 others to the death commission, including Ali Haqverdi-Mamaghani, who was sick. The guards in Ghezelhesar Prison had hit Ali’s head to the corner of a window. As a result, he suffered from epilepsy and had epileptic seizures. Several of us in the cell controlled and prevented him from hitting himself to the wall or the door when he had the attack… Ali was sick, and Nasser had severed his spinal cord, but regime authorities had kept them for a day to execute them on August 6, 1988, without providing medical care for them at all,” he added.

By establishing communication through morse code the political prisoners had become aware of their fate, realizing many of their fellow inmates were being sent to their deaths. Many had even began keeping count of those being executed.

“The executions continued, and I witnessed these scenes all day long. At night they took me back to my cell. I was there for a couple of days and continued communicating with other prisoners in the adjacent cells through morse code. They told me about the executions and that how many people were taken out of each cell,” Mr. Akhgar said.


As the executions continued at full speed, prison authorities would also torture other prisoners and specifically threatening the massacre survivors to never establish any contact with the PMOI/MEK. This further proves that the regime’s intention through the massacre was to annihilate the PMOI/MEK as the main threat to its dictatorship.

“The situation continued until August 16, when they transferred us to ward 13, which was the general ward. We were there for a couple of days. One day Naserian came and called out some names, including Javad Taqavi and me. He ordered us to the prison yard, where we were taken while blindfolded. He told us that the Sharia judge has sentenced you to lashes. I was supposed to receive 160 lashes and Javad 100. They tied us to a metal bed and flogged us. I was severely injured and hardly got up from the bed,” Mr. Akhgar explained.

“They took us back to the cell. I was not able to rest or sleep for a month. My entire body was infected and caused me many problems. After a month, they took us back to ward 13. Naserian came and told us: ‘Those of you who are now in the cell are the only ones alive. We want to release you. But if anyone attempts to join the MEK, they will not endure prison, interrogation, or trial. We will immediately execute them once caught attempting to join the organization. I am here to tell you that,’” he continued.

A very small percentage of the prisoners survived the 1988 massacre in Iran. The hasty nature of the executions and how the thousands of victims were buried in mass graves sheds more light on the brutality of the mullahs’ regime against the Iranian people.

“I do not recall how many inmates were in Gohardasht prison that year, perhaps around three to four thousand. But in the same ward that Naserian said, we were the only survivors of the massacre. We were about 160 or 170 prisons. They transferred us to Evin after a day,” Mr. Akhgar said.

“They also harassed families in different ways… One of the inmates, Seyed Morteza Hosseini, was his mother’s only child, and even he was executed by the regime. His mother would come to the prison to visit her child, but she was told that no visits were allowed at that time. After botching the victim’s mother for a while, they finally gave her a bag and said we executed your kid. This mother couldn’t bear it because of her deep love for her son. I heard from other relatives that this mother would visit the prison every now and then, put her head on the prison wall, and constantly ask for her son as if she was in an unstable state and didn’t know anyone and just asked for her son,” he explained.

Iranian regime President Ebrahim Raisi is best known for his direct role in the summer 1988 massacre as a senior member of the Death Commission in charge of Tehran’s prisons. As Hamid Noury is currently on trial in Stockholm for his role in the 1988 massacre, this should be a prelude for international tribunals to hold Iranian regime officials who ordered the massacre, and those who carried it out, accountable for this genocide and crime against humanity.

“Today, we see that Hamid Abbasi, or Hamid Noury, one of those who took people to the Death Commission in 1988, is being tried in Sweden. This criminal is one of the pawns trapped in Sweden today. Everyone else in this regime is like Hamid Noury. We’re not dealing with one or two individuals. The entire regime of the Islamic Republic is a rule of ignorance and crime,” Mr. Akhgar concluded.

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