Mother Zinat Haidari (Mother Riahi)

Mother Zinat Haidari(Mother Riahi), mother of deceased Jafar, Ali and Mohammad Sadegh Riahi, was born in the provincial city of Nour in 1304 (1925). Her husband, Abbasali Riahi, was born in the provincial city of Nour in 1300 (1921). Mother Riahi died on 25 Esfand 1382 (15 March 2004). The Islamic Republic handed over three children of Mother Riahi to firing squad between the years 1361 to 1367 (1982 – 1988).

Mother Riahi in a video published from her explains about what happened to her and other mothers in the 1360s (1980s). Mother Riahi’s video interview was circulated, at her request, after her death.

Text of mother Riahi’s interview:

“We had no visits from Khordad 1367 (May-June 1988). One day we would go to Evin, one day to Qezel Hesar; one day to Evin, next day to Qezel Hesar. They would say: “You have no visit.” It was late in Azar (Dec.) when all of us went to Evin. They asked us to give them our telephone numbers. We said: ‘We have already given our telephone numbers; what numbers?’ They asked us to give it again. That day they broke the news to all families that our children had been executed. All 17 committees of Tehran handed out children’s belongings to us. It was a riot.

They had killed the children three months ago; they told us three months later. The whole world knew about it but not the Iranians. Nobody knew in Tehran that they had killed our children. One day they phoned everyone and said that they had executed our kids; now every family had lost two, three, five kids.  

That’s how they informed us all. As soon as we returned home from Evin, the phone bell rang. Saeed, a six-year old kid picked up the receiver and said: ‘Mommy, mommy, come; they are talking about Papa Jafar. They told the six-year old kid that they had executed his father. The poor boy wanted to throw himself from the height of three meters but the neighbours prevented him. That’s how they informed everyone else. After this, when we wanted to visit the graves, they would always take us to the Committee and ask why we had come? Who were they? What did they do? They took us to the Committee once every week on a regular basis. We held ceremonies for our children in 1368 (1989). They came to our house at night. They told the mothers to go to Evin the next day. When we went to Evin the next day, they kept us until noon with our eyes closed. They took us to the Committee after 2:00 p.m. They kept us there for three days. They interrogated each of us separately. Then they asked us to fill in a form. I told them: ‘I am illiterate. But if you tell me not to go the grave, I would; if you tell me not to hold ceremonies, I would.’ He said: ‘No, I am not asking you not to hold ceremonies, or not to visit the grave, but why collectively?’ I replied: ‘You acquainted us as a group. During the eight years of visits we became familiar with each other. One year has passed since you killed our children. That’s how we came to know each other. If you see your neighbour for ten days, wouldn’t you say hello to him?’ He said: ‘Yes, I will.’ I replied: ‘For the last 8-9 years you have taken us together for visits; you have taken us together to the Committee. We came to the graves and became acquainted with each other.’ He said: ‘Tell me the surnames of all of them.’ I replied: ‘I don’t know. I know them by their first names. I do not know their surnames.’ When they buried the kids in a mass grave, it was shallow; certainly it would stink. They said that they were heathen; that’s why they stink. The representative of the Armenians went to the Parliament and spoke there. He said: ‘Neither the religion of Moses, nor the religion of Jesus, nor the religion of Mohammad suggests such behaviour.  Why do you bury them in a mass grave? Clearly the bodies will stink.’

When they committed the massacre, they said: ‘We made the mistake of burying them in one mass grave; we should have buried them in other places too.’ All the orders were issued by Khomeini whereupon the kids were executed. Same conditions prevail now. No one can breathe; if anyone tries to breathe, they cut their throat, whether they be the ones who were in prison and were tortured, or we the patents outside of prisons. There was a time when they took us and our kids to Harandi Committee in Shah Abdolazim where they would keep us one day and one night; then they would release us, thirsty and hungry. They did it so many times that we said: ‘Well, detain us, too. Why so much comings and goings. Or, tell us not come at all.’ They detained us for no reason at all, just to harass and torment us.

One day it was the anniversary of execution of one of the boys. We saw that they had descended upon us from Evin prison with women Pasdars to investigate us. They told us to line up. We all stood in a single file; women separate from men, and men separate from women. They identified all of us one by one. Then they said that the Chehrazi family was to stay. We were there from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in midsummer.

One of the boys regularly wrote tracts in support of political prisoners and their families in Iran and used to throw those tracts inside the houses. When Galind Will was supposed to visit Iran, he had informed all families. Pirouz suffered from mental disorder. Regretfully they executed him secretly. They told all families that Galind Will would come on such and such date and that all of us should gather in Argentine Square. All the mothers came to Argentine Square. But they did not let Galind Will meet us. They seized all documents, photographs and everything from them. Also, there was a mother whose legs were paralyzed; she sat in a wheelchair. All documents were placed inside a purse which was put on the neck of this mother and she was wheeled in her chair to front of the door so if Galind Will came, she could hand out the documents to him. They took Galind Will through another door and beat the hell out of that paralyzed woman. They brought outside all political prisoners who had repented and cooperated with them so they could identify us and report us to the regime. That was our plight for 15 days but to no avail.

Later we heard that Galind Will wanted to go to Khavaran on Friday. He had requested the regime to interview the families of political prisoners in Khavaran. One day earlier they brought several trucks loaded with soil and dirt, emptied it on the graveyard and levelled it with a bulldozer, as if it were agricultural land. They blocked the road at the Afsarieh T-junction and allowed no one to cross. They knew that mothers would go there on that day because we used to go to Khavaran on Fridays. They returned all of us from Afsarieh T-junction as much as possible. They did not suspect those who were in their private cars. When we arrived at the junction, the Pasdars came forward and stopped us. They said that we were not allowed the visit on that day. We asked why not? We wanted to go there like all Fridays. They said: ‘Today a philanthropist has given a piece of land to the Islamic Republic which wants to inspect it and take delivery of it.’ One of the mothers said: ‘No, today Galind Will is there and wishes to interview us. We must go.’ At any rate they did not let us go. We tried hard but they sent us back.

The next week we saw that all the land was bulldozed; heaps of soil that stood as the signs of our kids were levelled. The graves of our kids that had the so-called numbers were lost. They lost the graves of all of them. However, Galind Will somehow visited that place and it was recognized as a cemetery. A thousand times they disconnected the water there. They did not allow us to take some water. There was a washroom there; they destroyed it. There was a shed; they destroyed it. A thousand times the Armenians and the Baha’is planted trees all around; they plucked the trees and threw them away. They said that they were infidels and must not have any facilities. We regularly visited the Parliamentary Committee. One day we went to the committee in front of the police station 14. A mullah was sitting there. I cannot recall his name no matter how hard I try. We went forward and said that we were the families of political prisoners. He said that the families whose children are addicts should be sent in, not the families of political prisoners. They kept us there until noon; then they came from the police station, armed, and threw us out.

One day we went again to Moallem Street. There was a Committee. We went there. They led us all to the amphitheatre hall and closed the doors. They said: ‘Tell us the names of your kids one by one. If you don’t, we will stop the visits.’ We said: ‘You know the names and surnames and everything about our kids. If you wish to cancel out visits, do it.’ With harassment and insults, they kept us there until sundown, hungry and thirsty. Then they threw us out after the sunset.

We mothers would gather together, fifty, sixty at a time, and would go to the Justice Administration, hoping that someone would listen to us. Nobody would pay any attention to us. We went to the Parliament. They let us in. We went inside. We saw that a mullah was sitting in each room. We went in and he said: ‘Your kids kill people; they beat the Pasdars in Evin Prison. They have weapons.’ I said: ‘How can one have weapon when you take people there without clothes, stark naked?’

Whenever we went to visit our kids they somehow tortured and harassed us. One day a woman had come; she was very pretty and beautiful. The prison guard said: ‘Lady, why do you use makeup?’ They were from the North. The mother-in-law said: ‘What makeup? Shame on you! She has come to see her husband’ (she herself was a political prisoner who had been released). He said no. They took the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law inside. One of those female Pasdars who had a white handkerchief rubbed it on the face of the daughter-in-law to see if there was any makeup on her face; if the makeup was there, both of them were to be taken to the prison. ……….(two phrases) They held them for a few hours and then released them. They tortured us in one way or another; they harassed us. When we used to go the Justice Administration and people saw us lined up, they would ask: ‘Are they distributing meat, chicken, here?’ We would say, no. There was a woman, Mrs. Elahi. She always said: ‘We have given the blood of our children. We line up to get an answer as to where they have buried them.’ They would disperse us, throw us out. They wouldn’t let us in. Wherever we went, no one listened to us. They wouldn’t allow us to talk. One day we went directly to the house of the Leader. Khomeini was alive then. They sent us in. They told us: ‘Tell your children that as long as they do not cooperate with us, their release would not be possible.’


When they arrested Ali, I slapped myself and said that they would kill him. They said no, they won’t kill him. I asked where they had taken him. They said to the Committee of Eshratabad. In short, they detained him for 50 days. They took him to the joint committee. There, those who were with him said that he had a ration – 80 lashes per week – so as to get some information out of him. He would say: ‘I have joined no one, and have nothing to tell.’ I visited the Evin prison, the joint committee, for one whole year on a regular basis. The allowed me no visit. I went there before Bahman 1361 (Jan.-Feb. 1983); they allowed me a visit. Once when they had brought him to Evin, I made an appointment with Lajavardi and went to see him. Lajavardi pompously took the microphone and read out the files one by one and asked: ‘Any questions?’ One labourer got up and said: ‘Sir, Hamid?’ Lajavardi replied that Hamid had been executed. I asked: ‘Ali Riahi?’ He said: ‘That son of yours does not talk to us.’ I replied that he had nothing to talk about. He said that no one was allowed there to talk back; one could only ask a question. He added that my son had a number of bullets in his possession, my son had this, my son had that. I became angry again. They had arrested Ali on the street and I had immediately destroyed all the documents. I asked: ‘You took it from him?’ He said: ‘I am telling you that you are not allowed here to talk back. You just listen to what I am saying.’ That’s it. Fifteen days later they executed him.

The next day I went there and said that I had come to get Ali’s will. They told me to go and come back after ten days. I went again after 10 days. Poor boy had nothing. He wore one shirt for one whole year, and had patched the shirt on various places with its sleeve. His shirt was torn to pieces. I still have that shirt with which he had been flogged; I still have the shirt which was torn to threads by the lashes. Either they made a mistake or had given it to me deliberately; God only knows.

Mohammad Sadegh

They took him to Sepah prison. When they brought him to Sepah prison we searched for him relentlessly but got no news of him for 50 days. After 50 days Mohammad, who was a prisoner of the Shah’s regime and had been beaten and had developed a disk in his waist, phoned me and said: ‘Mom, bring a woollen shawl for me; my back hurts.’ I said: ‘Where should I bring it? I visit the committee every day.’ He said: ‘Bring it to Evin; they would take it from you.’ I brought it and gave it to them. After three months they allowed me a visit with him. When I visited him for the first time, my son said that Hassan had betrayed them.

At any rate, the worst prison in the world is the prison of the Islamic Republic. How much they harassed us in our visits. They would open a two-month old infant’s swaddling-clothes, telling us that we might have concealed something in it. They would detain us from the early morning, hungry and thirsty, in a queue, so as to take us by a vehicle up to the prison. There too they would keep us waiting for two three hours for a ten- or fifteen-minute visit. For a long time they did not let us visit Mohammad. We kept going there but to no avail. After three months we saw him with long hair and beard. I asked him: ‘My dear Mohammad, what happened?’ He said: ‘Nothing.’ Again we found a mullah and went to him. He said: ‘Mohammad makes mischief there. He has created an organization there. He works with the organization boys.’ I said: ‘Is it possible to work with an organization in the prison?’ He replied: ‘Yes, Jafar was trying to contact senior ranks. The Pasdars arrested him. He swallowed the tract he had with him and ate it. The Pasdars lost their evidence.’ For that he was kept in solitary confinement for four months. Prisoners in Block 209 s were always kept in solitary confinement.

We would bring biscuits for the kids. They would open it and put it in our palms. We would say: ‘There is nothing in the biscuits; we bought it sealed from the shop.’ They would not accept it. One day we went early for the visit. It was before 7 a.m. We were five mothers. They took us and threw us in prison and said: ‘This is your penalty for coming early.’


Likewise the interrogator told Jafar: ‘You did not talk; we will not let you get out of prison alive. We will kill you.’ His (death) sentence was taken to Ghom ten times. Ghom did not confirm it; it said that Jafar should not be executed. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to 12 years (of imprisonment). They wished to God that Jafar collaborated with them from outside the prison. They told him that whenever he wanted a private visit, they would allow it. He replied that the five-minute visit allowed to him and his family was good enough for him. They feared that if Jafar was released, he would resume his political activism. They never let him alone. When his child came back after visiting him we would ask “what did your dad tell you?” He would say: ‘Dad did not tell me anything. Whatever it was, it was between two men; I cannot tell it to you.’ That’s how it was, really. His son never told us anything. Jafar instructed his son to do so. When he was small, we would take him with us for the visit. When we wanted to go in, we were asked to first open the baby’s swaddling-clothes; we had to show it to them. Female guards, who had basically no humanity, insulted us. They would say: ‘Are you forced to bring his baby for visit? Well, don’t bring him. The weather is cold. Well, it has nothing to do with us; perhaps you should have told your boys not to engage in this (political activism).’ They constantly taunted us and made sarcastic remarks. They harassed us. There was a man there named Haj Karbalaie. He abused and insulted us on various pretexts. He picked up fights with mothers on several occcasions.

One day we went to visit Jafar. We saw that his lips and mouth were all injured and swollen. I asked: ‘What happened, my dear?’ He said: ‘Nothing. It’s just cold-sores.’ I knew that they had beaten him; beaten him a lot. It was the day of interrogation; it was the day when they wanted to pass a sentence for him. They took him out of the prison block at 6:00 a.m. Took him to the gallows. They interrogated him and questioned him. After 6:00 p.m. they put a piece of paper before him and asked him to sign it. He told me: ‘When I read it I learned that they had given me 12 years of imprisonment.’ Inside the prison cell Mohammad had become sick. When Jafar left, they celebrated; they made a cake and rejoiced and made merry. All of them were happy that he had got 12 years of imprisonment. But the Islamic Republic never acted according to its own laws. Those who had a sentence, those who were supposed to be released after one month like my Mohammad, were executed; they destroyed them all.

When they took them out and lined them up in execution queue, Jafar was at the head of the queue, then Mohammad. It was their law not to kill two brothers together. When a Pasdar pointed out that those two were brothers, they said: ‘That’s fine; let them go.’ They took out both of them the same day, same hour, same minute and same second, and executed them. Our kids had done it all at the risk of their lives; they knew what fate awaited them. Yet, they did not cease their fight for freedom.

Mohammad Jafar Riahi

Date of birth: 15/05/1330 (07 Aug. 1951)

Place of birth: Tehran

Education: Engineering in Geology

Occupation: Welder

Family status: Married

Father’s name: Abbasali

Date of arrest: 1360 (1981)

Place of arrest: Tehran

Organizational affiliation: Rah-e Kargar (Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran – The Worker’s Way)

Period of sentence: 12 years

Date and place of execution: Sharivar 1367 (Aug.-Sep. 1988)

Place of burial: Khavaran

Mohammad Sadegh Riahi

Date of birth: 1332 (1953)

Place of birth: Tehran

Education: A student of Sharif University of Technology

Family status: Bachelor

Father’s name: Abbasali

Date of arrest: 1360 (1981)

Place of arrest: Tehran

Organizational affiliation: Rah-e Kargar (Organization of Revolutionary Workers of Iran – The Worker’s Way)

Period of sentence: Four years

Date of execution: 9 Shahrivar 1367 (31 Aug. 1988)

Place of execution: Gohardasht Prison

Place of burial: Khavaran

Ali Riahi


Date of birth: 1337: (1958)

Place of birth: Tehran

Father’s name: Abbasali


Family status: Bachelor

Date of arrest: 13 Mehr 1360 (05 Oct. 1981)

Place of arrest: Tehran

Organizational affiliation: Organisation of Iranian People´s Fadai Guerrilla (minority faction)

Date of execution: 20 Bahman 1360 (09 Feb. 1982)

Place of execution: Evin Prison