Action Memorandum 018

August 12, 1996

FDI calls on Islamic republic to release clerics


The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is pleased to note that inresponse to intense international pressure, including appeals fromFDI, Amnesty International, and the International PEN Writers inPrison committee, the Islamic Republic authorities have recentlyreleased ten supporters of Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Shirazi, many ofwhom had been held incommunicado since November 1995. (See ActionMemoranda 04 and 015).

However, the Foundation is concerned for the safety of 18 otherfollowers of Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, including two of his sons, whoremain in prison on orders from the Special Court of the Clergy.

The Foundation is also concerned for the safety of Grand AyatollahYaqoubodin Rastaghari, aged 70, who was abducted from his home in Qomin February 1996. There have been credible reports that GrandAyatollah Rastaghari has been subject to torture and has beenadmitted on several occasions to a prison hospital.

Some of those released were instructed by the prison authoritiesto warn Grand Ayatollah Shirazi that if he did not change his stancetoward the regime "his supporters and his sons will be executed inprison." They also complained of having been systematicallytortured.

In addition to Ayatollah Rastaghari, the following 18 personsremain in jail under threat of torture and possible execution. FDIappeals to human rights organizations, the United Nations, andWestern governments to put pressure on the government of the IslamicRepublic for the immediate and unconditional release.

1. Hojjat-ol Eslam Makki Akhound, 30, a member of Grand AyatollahShirazi's staff in Qom who was arrested at his parents home inIsfahan on April 29, 1994. After severe torture, he was sentenced to3 years imprisonment by the Special Court of the Clergy.

2. Hojjat-ol Eslam Saleh Hedayati, an Islamic lecturer at GrandAyatollah's Hawzah seminary in Qom.

3 Hojjat-ol Eslam Mohammad Taqi al-Dhakeri, 41. His whereaboutsare currently unknown.

4. Hojjat-ol Eslam Mohammad Fazel Mohammad al-Saffar, author ofthe 60 volume "Karbala" encyclopedia and a five volume work onIslamic concepts of freedom which has banned in Iran.

5. Hojjat-ol Eslam Taleb al-Salehi, author of a work on thenecessity of pluralism in Islamic government. Summoned to agovernment-owned house in Tehran in March 1996, family members saidhe appeared to have been drugged and showed signs of torture.According to unconfirmed reports received in May 1996, hesubsequently lost his sight as a result of torture.

6. Hojjat-ol Eslam Fu'ad Fujeyan, arrested on Nov. 11, 1995.

7. Hajj Mohammad al-Ghaffari, director general of the Seyedal-Shuhadaa hospital in Tehran, founded by Grand AyatollahShirazi).

8. Hadi al-Dhakeri, member of the board of directors of the ImamSaadiq Islamic bank (founded by Grand Ayatollah Shirazi). Theauthorities appear to have trumped up drug-related charges againsthim, according to family members, which could expose him to the deathpenalty.

9-15. Seven unidentified students who were arrested in the Nov.12, 1995 raid against a religious school in Qom.

16. Hojjat-ol Eslam Seyed Morteza Shirazi, 29, the second son ofGrand Ayatollah Shirazi. He reportedly staged a hunger strike inprison soon after his Nov. 21, 1995 arrest on the streets of Qom, andwas last seen in January in a prison hospital.

17. Hojjat-ol Eslam Mehdi Shirazi, 21, the Grand Ayatollah'sfourth son, arrested in June while driving from Qom to Tehran.

18. Hajj Ali al-Rumaisi, 40, a member of the Grand Ayatollah'sstaff in Qom, arrested on June 19, 1996.


The Foundation for Democracy in Iran is a private,non-profit corporation registered in the State of Maryland.Contact: Kenneth R. Timmerman, Executive Director ( materials, including the FDI Newswire, are availablefree-of-charge via the Internet at