Shortly after the end of the Iran-Iraq war in early July 1988 and incursion into western Iran by MKO, “Ayatollah Khomeini” leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa in which he established committees (“Death Commissions”,) that were to sentence to death those MKO political prisoners whom they considered mohareb [waging war on God]. The subsequent executions encompassed other political prisoners, leftists and communists in particular.

Vast numbers of prisoners were taken to their deaths in 1988.  Virtually all of them were still serving their prison terms at the time and some were due for release.  

Before the executions, prisons went into lockdown and all visits were prohibited.

Prisoners were hauled in front of what became known as “Death Commissions”; the regime called them “Pardon Commissions”, which deceived those prisoners who thought that the purpose of the panel was to release them.

Each Death Commission comprised a religious judge, the local prosecutor and a representative of the Ministry of Intelligence, along with other state officials. Prisoners in both Gohardasht and Evin were tried by the same Death Commission.

The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran established a religious state where the supreme leader is given unlimited and unchecked powers: he is the sole interpreter of God’s given laws and his commands effectively override other institutions in the country, including the written laws.


In the name of God, the benevolent and the merciful.

Since the treacherous munafiqin [Mujahideen] do not believe in Islam, and whatever they say is stemmed from their deception and hypocrisy; and since, according to the claims of their leaders, they have become apostates of Islam; and since they wage war on God and are engaging in classical warfare in the western, northern and southern parts of the country with the collaboration of the Baathist party of Iraq, and are spying for Saddam against our Muslim nation; and since they are tied to the World Arrogance and have inflicted treacherous blows to the Islamic Republic since its inception, it follows that those who remain steadfast in their position of hypocrisy in prisons throughout the country are considered to be mohareb [waging war on God] and are thus condemned to a sentence of death, and determination of this issue in Tehran shall be with a majority decision of Messrs Hojat-ol-Islam, Nayyeri (may his life be prolonged), and his Excellency Mr Eshraghi, and a representative of the Ministry of Information.  The preference, however, is unanimity.  And in the same manner, in the prisons in the centre of provinces, the majority decision of the religious judge, the revolutionary prosecutor or his assistant, and the representative of the ministry of information shall be binding.  It is naïve to show mercy to moharebs.  The decisiveness of Islam before the enemies of God is among the unquestionable tenets of the Islamic regime.  I hope that you satisfy the almighty God with your revolutionary rage and rancour against the enemies of Islam.  The gentlemen who are responsible for making the decisions must not hesitate, nor show any doubt or concern with details.  They must try to be most ferocious against infidels.  To hesitate in the judicial process of revolutionary Islam is to ignore the pure and holy blood of the martyrs.

Greetings, Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini

Fatwa in Farsi