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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.

Mehdi Eslamian (Islamian)

Age: 30
Location: Moved to an undisclosed location on 8 May 2010; formerly Gohardasht Prison
Charge: Mohareb, acting against national security, attempting to overthrow the regime, membership in Anjoman Padeshahi, providing financial assistance to anti-Revolutionary groups.
Date condemned: Reported 3 February 2010

* Mehdi Eslamian was executed on 9 May 2010 with Shirin Alam Hooli, Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heidarian, and Farhad Vakili. The five were hanged outside of Evin Prison.

Warning! 8 May: Media4Iran reports "death row political prisoner Mehdi Islamian has been moved from Rejai Shahr prison to an unknown location." This often indicates that an execution is imminent. Mehdi Islamian's brother was executed last year convicted of cooperation with the Monarchist Group. Mehdi was convicted of giving financial aid to his brother before his arrest. We have alerted Amnesty International about this dangerous movement.

Mehdi Eslamian was arrested in May 2008 and charged with providing financial assistance to anti-revolutionary groups, membership in the pro-monarchist group Anjomane Padeshahi, acting against national security, and attempting to overthrow the Iranian regime. He was condemned to death as Mohareb, and is awaiting execution in Gohardasht Prison.

Before his detention in Gohardasht, Mehdi was held in solitary confinement for six months in Evin Prison. While in Evin, he was a victim of physical and mental torture, for which he was later denied medical treatment. The regime's systematic use of torture and in prison is a violation of Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Articles 7 and 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).




Habibullah Golparipour

Location: Oroumiyeh Prison as of December 5, 2010; previously Mahabad Prison
Charge: Moharebeh
Date condemned: Announced 7 May 2010

December 5 Concerning development: Habibollah Golparipour was transferred to Oroumiyeh prison.

September 5 Mr. Golparipour's death sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court. He is considered to be in imminent danger of execution.

Habibullah Golparipour was arrested in November 2009 and charged with membership in a Kurdish opposition party. On 7 May 2010, Iran Human Rights Voice announced his death sentence under the politically-motivated religious charge of Moharebeh, which means "armed war against God." The charge is commonly applied for armed resistance to the Islamic Republic, but has increasingly been used against religious and political opponents to the regime. Though Habibullah is originally from Sanandaj and was originally detained there, he was was sentenced by the Revolutionary Court in Mahabad, where he is currently held. Many Kurds are being transferred to provinces far from their homes, so that the Iranian regime may condemn, torture, and execute them and contain the news. Habibullah Golparipour and others' cases are an outrage. His death sentence violates Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which states that the death penalty, when still used, may only be applied for the most serious offenses. Mr. Golparipour's membership in a political organization is no justification for his murder.

Jafar Kazemi

Age: 47
Location: Evin Prison
Date condemned: Sentence upheld by appeals court 28 April 2010; upheld by the Supreme Court 29 July 2010 and sent to enforcement division.
Date executed: 24 January 2011

We have assembled an sample letter and contact information (updated July 29) to Iranian officials in response to Amnesty International's recent Urgent Action Alert regarding Jafar Kazemi, thought to be at risk of imminent execution.

We also urge you to write to the United Nations on Mr. Kazemi's behalf.

January 9 Jafar Kazemi is reportedly due to be executed this Tuesday, January 11. He is considered in imminent danger of execution, and his family members have urged international human rights activists to advocate for him and save his life.

Jafar Kazemi was arrested after Quds Day protests on 18 or 19 September 2009. He was tried in Branch 28 of Revolutionary Court and sentenced to death for Moharebeh, or "enmity against God" and can be executed at any time. His lawyer has had limited access to Jafar. Although she filed an appeal with the Judiciary, the sentence was upheld and finalized on 28 April and will be forwarded to the Implementation Unit. Kazemi was charged and convicted of "propaganda" against the Iranian regime and harshly interrogated and pressured in prison to make a televised confession, which he refused. In a letter to the UN's secretary general urging the UN to take action, Kazemi's wife describes his brutal treatment in prison.

Jafar Kazemi's conviction and death sentence is likely a direct result of two things: his participation in the 18 September Quds protests, and his son's affiliation with PMOI, also known as MEK or MKO.  Jafar Kazemi should not be held responsible for his son's affiliation, and political views are never justificiation for execution.

Jafar Kazemi's case is laden with rampant human rights violations. His arbitrary arrest and detention are violations of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Forced confession, which authorities tortured him to obtain, is a violation of of the ICCPR. Torture itself is a violation of Article 5 of the UDHR and Articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR. Jafar's lawyer has stated that she has limited access to him and was not even permitted to see him to exchange Power of Attorney documents. Article 14(3)(d) of the ICCPR guarantees the right to defense through an attorney of one's own choosing. Finally, Article 6 of the ICCPR declares that, in countries where the death penalty has not been abolished, the death penalty is to be imposed only for the most serious crimes. Nothing in Jafar Kazemi's case justifies this murderous act.

Amnesty International has issued an Urgent Action item regarding Jafar Kazemi's death sentence and the imminent danger to his life.

On 21 May, Amnesty International confirmed there was an immediate threat to Mr. Kazemi's life and noted, "Ja’far Kazemi is now known to be among six men facing execution in Iran for their alleged links to the banned group, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI). In some cases, these links may amount to no more than having contact with family members linked to the PMOI. The six could be executed at any time."

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