Economic and Social Distr.
26 January 1989
Excerpts from the report by the
Special Representative of the United Nations Human Rights
Commission to the Commission ‘s 1989 session
(UN Document E/CN.4/1989/26)
2. Written information
(a) Information regarding the right to life
15. The information received by the Special Representative since the preparation of his interim report to the General Assembly contained in particular alleged violations of the right to life. In his interim report (paras. 47-49) the Special Representative referred to information he received in September 1988 alleging that a large number of prisoners, members of various opposition groups, had been executed during the months of July, August and September 1988. Since that date, the Special Representative has continued receiving persistent reports about a wave of executions of political prisoners. These reports were made available by various sources, including non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and other bodies directly concerned by the alleged wave of executions. In addition, the Special Representative received hundreds of petitions and letters from private individuals around the world, including members of parliament from Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as members of the European Parliament from several countries, and trade-union and church officials, expressing deep concern at the alleged wave of executions and calling for United Nations intervention to bring such executions to a halt.
16. The precise number of alleged victims of the recent wave of executions has not been reported. The Special Representative has received more than 1,000 names (see annex), but it was alleged that there were in all probability several thousand victims. In that connection, the Special Representative was informed that the Special Rapporteur on summary or arbitrary executions had, during the period from July to December 1988, transmitted to the Iranian Government allegations regarding the summary or arbitrary execution of several hundred persons, and sent urgent appeals regarding approximately 150 persons said to be facing an imminent danger of execution.
17. Most of the alleged victims were said to be members or supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, but members of other opposition groups, such as the Tudeh Party, the People’s Fedaiyan Organization, Rahe Kargar and the Komala Organization in Iranian Kurdistan, as well as at least 11 mollahs, were also said to be among the alleged victims. Many of the people said to have been executed had been serving prison terms for several years, while others were former prisoners who were rearrested and then executed. It would therefore seem unlikely that these persons could have taken part in violent activities against the Government, such as participation in the NLA incursion into the western part of the Islamic Republic of Iran in July 1988. Among those said to have been executed were several women and, in some cases, several members of the same family. It was alleged that many of those who had been serving prison sentences had had their sentences changed to the death penalty, in contravention of article 14, paragraph 7, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a party. Many of the executions were said to have been carried out in secret while others were reported to have occurred publicly, by hanging or firing-squads.
18. Statements by several high-ranking officials were published by the Iranian news media to the effect that members of opposition groups should be dealt with severely, but there was no official acknowledgement of the wave of executions. Nevertheless, reports have been received according to which people witnessed large numbers of bodies being buried in shallow graves in the area of Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery in Tehran, where political prisoners are usually buried, and in other parts of the country.