Civil status Married
Education university diploma
Occupation engineering and science professional
Affiliation revolutionary leftist
Date of execution May 19, 1987
Location Vienna, Austria
Mode of execution extrajudicial-shooting
Charges Unknown charge
About this Case
The information about Mr. Hamid Reza Chitgar is based on an interview with a person close to him. He was born in Babol (Mazandaran province) in 1949 and had a daughter. He was an engineer and worked for the Esfehan Steel Company and other private companies. About one year before the Revolution, he went to Strasbourg, France, with a scholarship to obtain a master’s degree. A month before the Revolution, he returned to Iran and opened a publishing house. He is remembered for his love of life and of good food as well as his attachment to his family and his father in particular. He was curious and adventurous but did not follow others blindly. He did not believe in underground life and his active political life never distanced him from his family.
Mr. Chitgar was a member in the leadership of the Hezb-e Kar (Labor Partym). During his stay in France, he distanced himself from the idea of armed resistance. He was once arrested by the Revolutionary Guards in March, 1981 for the publications of his publishing house (which published political and non-poolitical materials). He was taken to Evin and soon taken back to his printing house in order to lure other political activists. He was able to escape and lived underground for 6 months before fleeing to France in 1983 where he obtained political asylum. He was the representative of the Labor Party in the National Resistance Council and was a member of the Council before his assassination.
Hezb-e Kar (Labor Party) was founded in 1978 as a result of a breach in the the Tufan Party, which had itself split from the Tudeh Party of Iran. The Iran Labor Party calls itself Marxist-Leninist and communist. It supports the overthrow of the Islamic Republic and the establishment of a proletarian dictatorship. The Party believes that following the death of Stalin, who had established the dictatorship of the proletariat in its true sense, the Soviet Union became a social imperialist country. The Iran Labor Party is a member of the International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations. It is based in Germany and publishes the magazine Tufan.
According to the interviewee, a man named Ali Amiztab’ corresponded with Mr. Chitgar from Iran a couple of years before his murder and established a regular contact with him. In his letters, he wrote about establishing a group of sympathizers of the Labor Party in Iran. Finally, he asked to meet Mr. Chitgar in person and set up a meeting in Vienna, Austria. Mr. Chitgar who never traveled alone and did not trust his interlocutor tried to find friends to travel with him. For various reasons, no one was available and Mr. Chitgar decided to go alone. On May 19, 1987 he traveled to Vienna to meet with this man.
According to the interviewee, his wife didn’t receive any news from him and after a few days, began to look for him and alerted the Austrian police. The efforts of His wife and family proved fruitless until the neighbors of the apartment, where Mr. Chitgar was murdered, complained about the odor and police discovered his body on July 17, two months after the murder. He had been shot twice in the back of his head. According to the Austrian police, the apartment had been rented by an individual with a Turkish passport for three months. The rent has been paid in full. The efforts of the family’s lawyer to encourage the investigation and obtain more information were not successful. The Austrian authorities noted that investigation in the case of Mr. Chitgar’s assassination was difficult because the agent of the Islamic Republic had a Turkish passport and did not need a visa to come to Austria. No other information was given to the family.
The assassination was widely reported in the local press and caused a wave of protests by Iranian and European political groups. Mr. Hamid Reza Chitgar’s body was buried in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris on August 8, 1987.
Human rights violations in this case
The legal context
Read about the courts, the judges, and the procedure.
Special courts, known as the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunals, were set up after the February 1979 revolution. Their jurisdiction encompasses a wide array of offences ranging from association with or support of the former regime, promotion of foreign influence, and enmity with the revolution to possession, use or sales of narcotic drugs, murder, and profiteering. In the 1980s, a penal court, presided over by one judge, was created to handle some of the offenses punishable by death, such as theft or adultery. These tribunals’ decisions must be confirmed by a chamber of the Supreme Judicial Council.
Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily jurists. By 1981, the judiciary was purged of judges trained in law schools. They were replaced by seminary graduates and students, as well as by political appointees (an estimated 2000 by 1989). Since by law judges are only required to have a high school diploma and must be faithful to the Islamic Republic’s tenets, new recruits often have little formal training in the law and are chosen because of their political affiliation.
The procedures of these ecclesiastical tribunals fail to meet the minimum guarantees for fair trial as established by international human rights instruments and by sha’ria (the Islamic system of law). In addition to executions ordered by revolutionary tribunals, extra-judicial executions are carried out, targeting dissidents and opposition leaders. In some cases, both inside and outside of Iran, these executions have been traced back to Iranian officials. It is, however, not known if in these particular cases trials are held in absentia.
Sources (Among others): Amnesty International, Law and Human Rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, February 1980; Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights, The Justice System of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1992; E/CN.4/1989/26 p.14; UNCHR, Resolution 1984/54 , Abolition of Torture - Iran - 1; 28 November 1984; Report on the human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran by the Special Representative of the Commission, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, 28 January 1987. Amnesty International, A SHOCKED WORLD WATCHES IN DISBELIEF, VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, 1987-1990. Memoirs of Ayatollah Khalkhali, religious judge and former head of revolutionary tribunals (2001), and Ayatollah Montazeri, dismissed successor to Ayatollah Khomeini (2001). UNCH, E/CN.4/1994/50, Final report on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepared by the Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl, pursuant to Commission resolution 1993/62 of 10 March 1993 and Economic and Social Council decision 1993/273. E/CN.4/1994/50, 2 February 1994.
Extrajudicial killings and the Islamic Republic: A decades-long pattern
Read more about the pattern of extrajudicial killings ordered by the Islamic Republic authorities.
Since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, have blamed the Islamic regime for the extrajudicial killing of its opponents, both within and outside of its borders. Although over two hundred cases have been reported, the exact number of victims remains unknown.
Extrajudicial executions carried out in Iran are rarely investigated; the few cases that have been investigated have indicated that the Iranian state security apparatus has been involved. Agents of the Islamic Republic have also targeted dissidents outside the country, assassinating opposition members in the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, India, and Pakistan in Asia; Dubai, Iraq, and Turkey in the Middle East; Cyprus, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, and Great Britain in Western Europe; and across the Atlantic in the United States,.
In many of these cases local authorities have made no arrests. However, investigations, when they have taken place and been made public, have led to the single hypothesis of State ordered crimes. The organization and execution of these crimes constitute a pattern that Swiss prosecutor Roland Chatelain describes as “common parameters” following a “meticulous preparation.” Similarities between different cases in different countries have created a coherent set of presumptions designating the Islamic Republic as the instigator of these assassinations. In cases involving prominent Iranians assassinated in France, Germany, and Switzerland, local prosecutors have provided evidence linking Iranian authorities to the crimes in question. In France, for example, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 1991 murder of two dissidents. In Germany, agents of Iran's secret services and Lebanese Hezbollah have been convicted for the 1992 murder of four dissidents in Berlin. Currently, the Islamic Republic's Minister of Information and Security at the time of this murder is under an International arrest Warrant launched by German judicial authorities for his involvement. Furthermore, the German court found that Iran's political leadership ordered the murder through a "Committee for Special Operations," whose members reportedly include the Leader of the Islamic Republic, the President, the Minister of Information and Security, and other security officials.
The Islamic Republic’s officials have claimed responsibility for some of these assassinations while denying involvement in others. In the 1980s, Iranian authorities justified extrajudicial executions of dissidents and members of the former regime and actively worked for the release of Iranians and non-Iranian agents who were detained or convicted in the West for their involvement in those killings. During the 1990s, they systematically denied any involvement in extrajudicial killings and often credited the killings to infighting amongst the opposition. Still, the rationale supporting these killings was articulated as early as in the spring of 1979 when the First Revolutionary religious judge publicly announced the regime's intention to carry out extrajudicial executions. He said: “no state has the right to try as a terrorist the person who kills [exiles] in foreign lands, for this person is implementing the verdict issued by the Islamic Revolutionary tribunal.” More than a decade later, in August, 1992, the Minister of Intelligence and Security publicly boasted about the success of Iran's security forces, alluding to the elimination of dissidents: "We have been able to deal blows to many of the mini-groups outside the country and on the borders...."
Based on the available information, the following human rights have been violated in this case:
The right to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.
The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.
UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.
In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.
The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.
UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.
The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of one’s interests.
UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.
The right to due process
The right to a fair and public trial.
ICCPR, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.
The right to defense through an attorney or legal aid. The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one, and the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.
The right to have the decision rendered in public.
ICCPR, Article 14.1.
The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.
The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1Article 2%viol_ctcidp_2%.