INU- Augest 15, 2013- In an exclusive tell all interview conducted by Iran News Update (INU), 1988 Iranian massacre survivor, Mostafa Naderi, details his time in multiple Iranian prisons from 1981-1992. Naderi was one of the few survivors from the 1988 massacre where over 30,000 political prisoners were executed.  

Naderi was released from prison in the spring of 1992 after several health complications from torturous acts.  He was able to escape to Turkey a few months after his release and works now sharing his story and advocating for human rights measures from the international community.

Mostafa Naderi 1988 Iranian Massacre - Political Prisoner Survivor

Read the full interview with Mostafa Naderi below.

QUESTION: When were you in prison, which ones and where were you during the 1988 massacre? 

ANSWER: I was arrested in the fall of 1981 when I was 17.  I served time in Evin, Ghezel Hessar and Gohardasht prisons. I was released from prison in the spring of 1992. During the massacre I was in solitary confinement at Evin. 

QUESTION:  Based on what you have seen and heard when did the massacre of political prisoners occur and in which prisons? 

ANSWER: It started after Khomeini’s fatwa (religious decree) in all prisons throughout Iran in July1988. 

There were about 250 to 300 prisoners in each ward. The prisoners were taken from the wards to the court; each day the prisoners of one ward were forced to sit in a corridor. The prisoners were taken one by one to a room where the prison, Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) authorities and a judge were present and questioned the prisoner, “Do you want to appeal to Khomeini for pardon and mercy?” Then based on the prisoner’s response they decided whether or not to execute him/her.   The court appeal lasted for a minute or at most a few minutes. Nothing was accepted but absolute remorse. 

Some prisoners, who were known due to their background and dossier, were simply taken to the court just to be notified of the death sentence. 

After being notified of their sentence, the prisoners were blindfolded and taken out of the court to a solitary cell and were executed the same day. 

Prison guards used all methods for execution to make the process as quick as possible; such as hanging, execution by firing squad, and some prisoners were piled up in big metal pipes which were then exploded.  Guards then buried all those executed, either killed or wounded, in mass graves.

QUESTION: Many people say that this massacre could not have happened without a history of political executions. What’s your own opinion? 

ANSWER: The regime was incapable of resolving the issue of political prisoners whose number was continuously rising.  Although the regime had started execution of prisoners extensively since June 20, 1981 and used to execute 60-200 people every day, yet it could not resolve the issue of political prisoners. 

The majority of political prisoners were composed of supporters of PMOI who persisted in prison and day by day their spirit grew stronger. They were steadfast on their positions. In 1986 and 1987 there was a rise in chanting slogans and going on strike in prisons, making the regime lose its control. Despite a wave of torture and suppression and execution, the regime had not managed to force the prisoners to show remorse or keep silent. Therefore it started to separate prisoners from each other since 1986 and separated those who insisted on their position. That ended with the massacre of political prisoners at the time of accepting UN resolution for a ceasefire with Iraq in order to suppress the society. 

At that time I was in solitary cell in Evin, and I was taken to prison clinic because I had gone unconscious due to kidney bleeding because of torture. 

At that time all prisoners, especially PMOI supporters, were organized in prisons and had interconnections. The regime failed in destroying their organization. Every one resisted by any means he or she could. 

Many of those who were released tried to rejoin the organization outside prison. 

All these reasons prompted the regime to carry out the massacre. 

QUESTION:  How did other prisoners feel and what was their impression of the executions?  Did prisoners themselves know what was going on? 

ANSWER: Because of the situation in prison, all the prisoners conveyed news to each other; therefore, after the first group was sent to the court and were executed, word spread as to what was going on. Despite seven years of torture and execution, the prisoners stood together in resistance to the regime and the courts’ threats and actions wouldn’t change their position. They never changed their position because they knew the executions were the outcome of the regime’s weakness.

QUESTION: Do you remember any of regime’s top officials involved in the massacre? 

ANSWER: Yes I do remember several senior officials many of them hold high positions now. Ones that were directly involved that I remember include, Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, Gholam Hossein Ezhei, Ali Younes and Mohammad Ismail Shooshtari.


QUESTION: What is your own assessment of the extent of the massacre? 

ANSWER: It is very hard to give an assessment on the number of executed political prisoners because the regime is still in power and has not mentioned anything in regards to the massacre over the past 25-years.

After I was released from prison, I tried to investigate the massacre; what I can say is that the number of political prisoners in 1986 and 1987 was 65,000.  This is based on figures given out by the regime itself calling them ‘group-let prisoners’. 

In prison I witnessed the regime release only a few prisoners upon difficult conditions.  Based on statistics, more than 30,000 must have been executed because there were 12,000 prisoners in Tehran and central prisons, while only 250 survived. 

An official who has separated himself from the regime has said that the number of massacred prisoners was 34,000. 

QUESTION:  This year, 25-years have passed since those days. What is your feeling now reflecting on those days? 

ANSWER: Now, I believe there was a great resistance while in the prisons.  This is a part of history and a part of the Iranian resistance.  However, due to silence and inaction of world community and the mullahs’ regime they want to cover up this tragedy that belongs to the Iranian people and resistance in order to continue their appeasement policy. But this is something that will never be forgotten. 

QUESTION:  In your opinion, what is the reason for the silence and inaction of the international community about the massacre? 

ANSWER: Appeasement policy is the only reason for the silence of international community; an extremely wrong policy that only the Iranian people and resistance are paying the price for; a policy that has emboldened the mullahs.  

QUESTION:  What international measures, in your opinion, should be taken in this regard?

ANSWER:  The United Nations should carry out an independent investigation.  The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Human Rights Council and also the Special Rapporteur for Iran Human Rights should immediately refer the dossier of this genocide to the United Nations Security Council. The Security Council should hold a special tribunal to investigate this dossier and for those responsible for this crime.