What is Moharebeh?

Moharebeh (محاربة, Mohareb, muharebeh) is a political charge dressed as a religious offense.

It has been translated and described as:

  • heresy,
  • armed war against the state,
  • armed war against God, 
  • working to undermine the Islamic system,
  • cooperating with foreign agents or entities

Moharebeh has roots in the Quran, but it is by no means religious.

The Islamic Republic of Iran continues to use this charge to purge political dissidents, GLBT, ethnic and religious minorities and those it finds inconvenient.  It is a capital offense and almost certainly comes with a death sentence.  It often comes with additional charges of association with an opposition or separatist group, such as PKK, PJAK, MKO, or Monarchist organizations; propaganda against the state; attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic; and conspiracy to undermine the government.

20-year old Mohammad Amin Valian was charged and sentenced to death as Mohareb in February 2010. The evidence used against him included pictures of him throwing rocks at an Ashura (27 December 2009) protest.

In January 2010, human rights activists Koohyar Goodarzi and Mehrdad Rahimi of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) were charged as Mohareb and tortured in an effort to extract their confessions.

Five people were charged as Moharebeh for their alleged participation in the 2009 Ashura protests. Their indictments came only ten days after they were arrested.

Kurdish political prisoner Zainab Jalalian is in immediate danger of execution on Mohareb charges. Although her trial only lasted two minutes, she was found guilty of membership in the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and sentenced to death.

Teacher and social worker Farzad Kamangar was executed on May 9, 2010 outside of Evin Prison. He was sentenced to death in a trial that took 7 minutes and in which he was forbidden to talk to his lawyer. His charges included "cooperating with Farzad Kamanger" (himself). He was told by the judge that the Ministry of Intelligence had requested his death sentence. Despite being pressured, under torture, to confess to membership in Kurdish resistance groups, Kamanger denied the charges. After being exonerated of membership in one group (Pezhak), he was charged with membership in another (PKK). He was told by Intel agents that his death sentence was meant to send a message to the people and political activists, though even his interrogators have admitted in front of his lawyer that they knew he was innocent.