1. Were medical personnel required to serve at the front during the Iran-Iraq war? 2. Additional information regarding possible consequences for draft evasion and consequences of return. [IRN2834]


In Iran, military service is compulsory and there is no provision for alternative service. [ United Nations, Conscientious Objection to Military Service, E/CN.4/Sub.2/1983/30/Rev.1, (New York: United Nations, 1985), p. 30. ] The length of service is two years, and conscientious objection is not recognized. [ Amnesty International, Conscientious Objection to Military Service, AI Index POL 31/01/88, February 1988, pp. 7, 13.] Possible penalties for refusal to perform military service in Iran include a "longer than normal period of military service; possible suspended prison sentence." [ Amnesty International, Conscientious Objection, p. 17.] According to a copy of the Public Military Service Act of 21 October 1984, the exigency period of public military service is two years, the precautionary period eight years, the first reserve period ten years, and the second reserve period 10 years (Article 4). During an emergency, or when necessary, the exigency period can be extended beyond the two-year period (Article 17). A number of exemptions for exigency service are granted for reasons of guardianship, education, or religion, however, doctors "shall be permanently exempted from fulfilling the exigency period of military service if they are unable to carry out their own medical practice. Those doctors who do not enjoy goood health but can have their own practice shall be exempted from carrying out heavy duties as per prescription by the medical council. In time of war or general call-ups, those subjects who have been exempted from military service in peace time shall be called up" (Clauses 1 and 2, Article 40).

It is not known whether the specific consequences for a doctor or dentist evading conscription would be different than for other army personnel. Articles 58 through 67 of the Public Military Service act, which cover the general penalties and public punishments, are attached. In particular, those evading conscription during war time do not receive their permanent completion/exemption card for a period of from five to seven years (Article 58), and without these cards, the draft evader cannot be employed in "any ministries, governmental and affiliated institutions, factories, workshops or private companies" (Article 62).

Please refer to the IRBDC Iran: Country Profile which discusses the measures taken by the authorities against draft evaders and deserters. In particular, page seven states that some deserters faced the death penalty in 1988. [ Immigration and Refugee Board Documentation Centre, Iran: Profile, December 1988, pp. 6-8, 29.]

Amnesty International reports a high incidence of political executions in Iran during the 1980s, and a marked increase during 1988-1989. Although draft evaders are not explicitly mentioned, doctors suspected of supporting Ayatollah Montazeri have been put to death. [ Amnesty International, Biggest Wave of Political Executions in Iran Since Early 1980s, says Amnesty International, AI Index: MDE 13/31/88, 13 December 1988, p. 2] Between July 1988 and February 1989, Amnesty International had recorded the names of over 1,200 reported execution victims. [ Amnesty International, Fear of Execution, AI Index: MDE 13/11/89, 10 February 1989.] Many of the individuals executed are suspected of supporting left-wing opposition groups, or of drug trafficking.

The Amnesty International Report 1989 refers to an incident reported in the Turkish press in August 1988. Allegedly, "40 [members] out of a group of 58 Iranian asylum-seekers handed over by the Turkish authorities to the Iranian authorities were executed in Orumieh on the Iranian side of the border". [ Amnesty International, Report 1989, (London: Amnesty International Publications, 1989), p. 256.] The report does not specify the alleged offences for which they were killed.

In January 1989, it was announced that a campaign to find draft dodgers was to begin on 8 January 1989. [ "Iran: Campaign Against Draft Dodgers to Begin", Summary of World Broadcasts, BBC Monitoring Service, 4 January 1989.] The official in charge stated that "as far as possible, severe punishments are envisaged to deal seriously and legally with those individuals who have evaded the sacred duty of being conscripts under various excuses during the eight year holy defence. The draft dodgers, who are found and arrested ... will not find leniency and they will not qualify for the four-month amnesty law." [ "Iran: Campaign Against Draft Dodgers to Begin", Summary of World Broadcasts, BBC Monitoring Service, 4 January 1989.]

In February 1989, a government plan to announce a general amnesty for Iranians abroad was discussed in the press. [ "Iran: Iranian prime minister comments on `The Satanic Verses' Affair, Foreign Loans, Amnesty for Iranians Abroad", Summary of World Broadcasts, BBC Monitoring Service, 20 February 1989.] The proposed plan apparently did not materialize, however, as evidenced by statements made by Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani in a news conference he conducted with the international press on 8 June 1989. During this conference, he discussed the high number of Iranian exiles who had left because they could not face the war, and stated that "we [the Iranian government] have not yet proclaimed a general amnesty. Those who have committed a major crime are at present being investigated. But the majority of the rest can return." [ "Iran: Rafsanjani's News Conference; Announces Candidacy for Presidency, Comments on Future Policy, Foreign Relations", Summary of World Broadcasts, BBC Monitoring Service, 10 June 1989.]

A scheme for encouraging the return of Iranians living abroad was announced by the Iranian government during 1989. Essentially, males of draft age can return to Iran for a visit and upon the payment of ten thousand dollars they will receive a new Iranian passport and exemption from military service for three years. [ External Affairs Canada, communiqué of 20 June 1989.] It should be noted that this announcement took place prior to Mr. Rafsanjani's remarks to the press in June.

Communiqué from External Affairs Canada re: Draft Avoidance Scheme;

Unofficial translation of the Public Military Service Act of the Islamic Republic of Iran.