“Every day, when the guards opened the solitary cells, they started beating the MEK’s prisoners,” Rahman Darkeshideh testified on Thursday, January 27, during the trial of Hamid Noury, deputy prosecutor in the notorious Gohardasht Prison (west of Tehran), where thousands of political prisoners were massacred in 1988.
Noury, an Iranian prison official, was apprehended in 2019 in Sweden. His trial began in 2020, and dozens of survivors of the 1988 genocide shared harrowing accounts of those dreadful days, mainly in Gohardahst prison, where Noury worked.
Based on a fatwa by the regime’s founder Ruhollah Khomeini, the so-called “Death Commissions” sent thousands of prisoners to gallows after the victims refused to disavow their allegiance to Iran’s leading opposition group, Mujahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK). The Iranian regime’s president, Ebrahim Raisi, was a member of Tehran’s “Death Commission.”
Darkeshideh, Noury’s neighbor and a Marxist, spent eight years in prison from 1980 to 1989. According to Darkeshideh, Noury had actively participated in the clerical regime’s crimes since 1979. It is worth noting that Noury had acknowledged his role in the massacre of Iran’s Kurds a few months into the 1979 revolution. He rose through the regime’s ranks and became a prison official in the 80s.
“I was in solitary confinement for a while. Three times a day, every day, when the guards brought food, they opened doors of nearly 38 cells and started beating before giving food. They generally avoided beating us since we were Marxist. But they savagely beat MEK supporters,” Darkeshideh said.
Darkeshideh also shared his harrowing accounts of the 1988 massacre in Gohardahst prison.
“They took me to court, rather the so-called death committee. I removed my blindfold and saw a group of four sitting there,” he said. “I looked at [Hossein Ali] Nayeri, and [Morteza] Eshraqi whom I knew. There were two other individuals whom I didn’t recognize.”
“We had heard about the [mass] executions of MEK supporters. We had heard that once one said they support the MEK or the ‘organization,’ it was enough for the [committee] to sentence them to death,” Darkeshideh testified, adding that he had prepared himself for this type of question.
“But they had another question to ask from us. They inquired about our religion. After asking me some general questions, [Nayeri] asked me about my religion. I said I do not have any. He said, ‘what? You are not a Muslim?’ I said no. Then, he asked, ‘since when you have become like this,’” he said.
Darkeshideh added that Mohammad Moghiseh, aka. Nasserian, Noury’s boss, suddenly entered the room and told the committee that Darkeshideh had been in prison using another name.
“Nasserian did not know me. He had just come to Gohardasht prison. But someone else knew me well, and that was Hamid Abbasi [Noury]. He had told Nasserian, and since he did not want me to see him, Nasserian came to the room,” Darkeshideh said. “[Noury] really wanted me hanged,” he added.
“Nayeri told me that ‘you either become a Muslim or I would implement the God’s order about you.’ They took me out of the room and handed me to a guard. He asked where should I take you and I said I don’t know.”. Once Darkeshideh told the guard that he had told the committee he is not a Muslim, the guard took him to a place designated for Marxist prisoners. Many of them were later executed.
Darkeshideh was a “Melikesh,” meaning they had served their sentence, and the regime had not released them. The regime executed many of the MEK’s “Melikesh” prisoners.
“Abbas Raisi was a Melikesh (serving more than he was sentenced to). He was hanged in Gohardasht prison. We were together in Evin prison, in ward number four. I also know Manochehr Rezaie; he was a MEK supporter. He was executed in Gohardasht,” Darkeshideh told the prosecutor.
“They had brought all Melikesh prisoners to Gohardasht. As I heard and based on evidence, only Saman Rahimi, who was arrested in 1980, survived out of all those prisoners,” he said.
Simultaneous with the court’s session, the MEK supporters and family members of the 1988 martyrs continued their protest outside the courthouse. They called for justice for the victims and urged the international community to hold criminals like Raisi accountable for their role in the crimes against humanity.
In 1988, Khomeini saw the MEK and its progressive interpretation of Islam as a serious threat to his reign and ideology. Hence, he decided to eliminate everyone who was unwilling to submit and choose fate over faith. The entire regime would prefer those tens of thousands of youth surrender to the regime and return to their families with the message that dissent against Khomeini is futile. But instead, these men and women stood tall and chose to die for an idea that would live on to inspire love, equality, and prosperity for generations to come. The uprisings today in Iran are an indication that the message and spirit of those executed in 1988 lives on and that they did not die in vain.