Religion Presumed Muslim
Civil status —
Education high school diploma
Affiliation no political affiliation
Date of execution July 16, 2009
Location Tehran, Iran
Mode of execution death in custody
Charges Unknown charge
About this Case
Information about Mr. Mohammad Kamrani’s death in detention was taken from websites of Iran Tabriz News on July 19, Association of Iranian Political prisoners (in Exile) on July 18, BBC Persian and the Committee of Human Rights Reporters on July 20, the E’temad Melli newspaper on July 23, the Kayhan newspaper on July 25, and ISNA (Iranian Students News Agency) on July 22 and 27, 2009. Additional information regarding detainees transferred to the Kahrizak prison was taken from an interview with an eyewitness.
Mr. Mohammad Kamrani, an eighteen-year-old student who was going to participate in the Medical Entry Examination of the Azad University, was arrested during the protest demonstration in July 9, 2009. Mr. Kamrani’s family finally was informed of his promised release on July 15; however, when they went to the prison to take him, they were told that he had been transferred to the Loqman Hospital because of his injuries. The family went to this hospital but, according to a family member, they faced a half-dead body of Mohammad. Due to the family’s insistence, officials escorted Mohammad to the Mehr Hospital but he died on the hospital bed several hours later. (BBC report)
Arrest and detention
According to Mr. Kamrani’s family, “he was arrested near Vali’asr Square in Tehran during the clashes of July 9. He did not participate in protest and was only arrested when passing by a street. After his arrest, Mohammad, along with some other detainees, was transferred to the Kahrizak prison. His family had no information about him and his whereabouts during first few days. Several days later, officials of the Evin prison published a list of detainees who were transferred to the Evin prison from Kahriza and Mohammad Kamrani’s name was among them.”
During an interview with ABF, an eye-witness said: “Mohammad Kamrani was also a prisoner among us. We were all in Andarzgah, Section One. Kamrani was in room 5 on the second bed. He was nauseated. He was in a very bad condition and sick every day. Two days after we were taken to the Evin, he had been unconscious. You could see the black and blue marks on his body, his hands, and his arms. His shoulder was injured and infected. They took him to the Evin clinic. When we asked about him, they said he is in the clinic. I pretended to be sick and went to the clinic. Doctor said that he had died. They took him to a hospital and he died there. Kamrani was very calm and polite. He probably was 19 years old.”
This eye-witness added: when he and other detainees reached at the Kahrizak prison, the prisoners were very thin and hungry and he was witness to the death of a prisoner. He was also hung by feet and beaten. This person described his observations as following: “[When entering Kahrizak], they searched us and we entered the yard. They wrote down our names and forced us to take all our clothes off. We were all naked. They forced us to put our clothes in a garbage can. After 30 minutes waiting naked, they began to beat us with a large hose and a stick in the yard… It hurt a lot. Around 6 or 7 in the evening, they took us to Quaran [Quarantine] One. We were able to take a piece of clothing and put it around our waists. There were already people there [in the Kahrizak prison]. Some of them looked like starved Biafrans. They were very thin and hungry. There were so many of us and the capacity of the place was 20 and we were about 160 people. So we couldn’t sit. We had to sleep standing. Half of us sat and half of us stood. We were not allowed to go to the toilet. We all passed out several times. It was hot. There was a very small aeration opening and at night the smell of diesel came in. There were no windows. We banged on the door to get air and instead, they sent diesel in. We were very thirsty. …Detainees asked for water but we only got 1 or 2 glasses of water every day. …We got a little piece of bread and less than a quarter of a potato once a day. At 4:00 a. m. they would pour in and push us to the courtyard and beat us with the hoses. … The third or the fourth day around 12 p.m., they took us to the courtyard. They made half of us to move on all fours around the courtyard while carrying the other prisoners on our backs. We had to carry them in a circle around the courtyard. The ground was so hot that we were burning. After five minutes I only saw blood on the ground from other people’s knees and hands…. We circled the courtyard maybe twenty or twenty-five times. If we stopped, we were being beaten. Everyone had fractured bones in different parts of their bodies…. The environment was so dirty and hot that any injury got infected immediately. Everyone had infections…. Guards had masks because of the smell…. In Kahrizak, several people were unconscious. Officials could see that we may not survive. When detainees of July 9 entered the prison, a Kahrizak official reminded them, ‘This place is called Kahrizak. Kahrizak means the end of the world. Here, you will soon behave as wild beasts. No one leaves this place alive.’”
There was no trial for Mr. Mohammad Kamrani. He was never tried in any court.
Regarding those who were arrested on July 9, 2009, the eye-witness said, “detainees, who were arrested in various places, received a pre-copied paper with similar charges in the security police detention center. They were forced to sign the paper by their finger print.”
Evidence of guilt
No specific and incriminating evidence was provided against defendants who were arrested during the protest on July 9, 2009 and charges against them were the same. According to reports, the same charges were announced against detainees who were arrested unrelated to the protest on July 9. According to an eye-witness, the investigating judge and police agents beat detainees and forced them to accept the pre-typed charges and thumb sign the form, which also included questions about their jobs, tattoos on their bodies, and travel or intention to travel outside the country.
No trial took place to investigate charges against Mr. Mohammad Kamrani and he was denied the right to defend himself.
Mr. Mohammad Kamrani died on July 16 due to his injuries and was buried in Beheshte-Zahra on July 18, 2009. Two days after Mohammad’s death, his father went to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, officially filed a complaint and demanded an examination of the case. The criminal inspector announced the beginning of an investigation regarding Mohammad Kamrani’s death and said: “Up until now, I have not even received the preliminary report of his death. The case has been referred to Branch Three of the Criminal Inspection for investigation. This young man has died in the Mehr Hospital and his father claims that his son was arrested by the security agents and transferred from prison to the hospital where he died.” (E’temad Melli)
According to ISNA, quoting the Chief Head of Prisons in Tehran Province, “Mohsen Ruholamin and Mohammad Kamrani had meningitis. They were part of a group who must be taken to Evin. Mr. Kamrani became sick in prison. He had no apparent problem and got off the vehicle at 5 p. m. he felt sick on the line of prison reception. They took him to the prison hospital and the physician dicided to transfer him to the Loqman Hospital. His release letter was issued before his death and he was given to his family at night when he was still alive. The next day he died and all physicians of the hospital and forensics confirmed that he had meningitis.”
During a meeting between the parliamentary special committee for Kahrizak prison and Mortazavi [Public Prosecutor at the time], it was decided that medical cases of Ruholamini and Kamrani should be given to this committee. The speaker of this committee, assigned by the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission in Parliament to investigate issues related to the recent events’ detainees, said: “the committee demanded explanation from Mr. Mortazavi. According to him, they had meningitis” (ISNA).
During an interview with the Gooyanews website on March 6, 2010, Mr. Kamrani’s father stated: “I’m sorry to see some individuals, who are directly or indirectly suspects in this case, are positioned by authorities into new jobs without any consideration for rights and feelings of families of Kahrizak victims. … They could have waited for the legal process to complete before giving them new positions.”
According to the existing information, no official ruling was issued against Mr. Mohammad Kamrani. Transferring to the Kahrizak prison in which many prisoners had lost their lives due to abuse, torture, heat, and non-standard health conditions during recent years, indicated that the judicial and security officials condemned Mr. Kamrani and other detainees without interrogation and trial and deliberately exposed them to serious danger, including death. Officials’ treatments of detainees at the time of arrival, statements by the judicial and security officials in this regard, lack of serious judicial investigation, and the fact that the person in charge of transferring detainees to Kahrizak still holds his judicial position, confirms the officials’ decision to confront protesters decisively.
The death of several detainees in July of 2009, including the son of a high ranking official of the Islamic Republic, highlighted the appalling detention conditions in Kahrizak. Some officials characterized the sending of protesters, especially students, to Kahrizak as a mistake and the Islamic Republic’s Leader ultimately ordered the closure of the detention facility. Before television cameras, officials talked about “offering sympathy” and paying compensation to those who were sent to Kahrizak, and the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces encouraged detainees to file complaints against Kahrizak officials. A parliamentary special committee issued a report about this issue. In a letter to the Head of the Parliament on January 16, 2010, Judge Sa’id Mortazavi, the Revolutionary and Public Prosecutor of Tehran at the time, confirmed the transfer of detainees to Kahrizak and rejected any wrongdoing by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
In response to the parliamentary special committee for Kahrizak prison, the Revolutionary and Public Prosecutor of Tehran at the time rejected the criticism about the lack of space in Kahrizak and the persistence of the judge to accept them. He noted that 147 of the 380 detainees arrested in front of Tehran University on July 9, were sent to Kahrizak. He insisted that the decision was made in coordination with officials from the detention center and “the security forces of greater Tehran” who had announced Kahrizak’s capacity to hold 400 new prisoners. Mortazavi emphasized that the transfer order was legal and signed by an official of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Tehran. “From a legal point of view,” he wrote, “since this detention center is an official and legal place, [transferring detainees] was not a violation of regulations.”
Months before these statements, security officials intimidated those who, encouraged by the Armed Forces Judicial Organization, had filed complaints against the prison officials with the threat of rearrest, and sometimes using violence, and made most of them withdraw their complaints.
To investigate the charges against Iranian officials, a trial took place behind closed doors. Authorities informed the victims’ families that the judges, who ordered the transfer of the detainees of July 9, 2009 to Kahrizan, would be prosecuted in a special court for judges. It is not clear whether such proceedings are ongoing or not. The authorities have also informed the victims’ families that they should not publicize the proceedings since the trial took place behind closed doors. The victims’ families object to the proceedings and the indictment.
The last trial session took place on June 7, 2010. On June 30, 2010, the court condemned 11 defendants and acquitted one. According to the ruling, two defendants were condemned to death (qesas) for murdering Mohsen Ruholamini and Mohammad Kamrani. The other nine defendants were condemned to imprisonment, the payment of blood money (diyeh), a fine, temporary discharge from service, and flogging for various charges (ILNA, June 30, 2010).
During an interview with Rooz after the trial, Mr. Kamrani’s father spoke about testimonies of those who were tortured in Kahrizak. He said that the defendants on trial were only the agents and not those who ordered the crimes: “I personally consider those who manage the country and created such situations as the responsible parties” (Rooz, June 18, 2010).
Election returns from Iran’s June 12th, 2009, presidential election declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected with 62.63 percent of the vote. Following the announcement, citizens disputing these official results demonstrated in the streets. Text messaging services were disrupted starting at 11:00 p.m. on the night before the election and remained unavailable for nearly three weeks, until July 1st. On Election Day, the deputy chief of Iranian police announced a ban on any gathering of presidential candidates’ supporters throughout the country. The same evening, security forces made a “show of strength,” increasing their presence in Tehran’s public squares to “reinforce security at polling stations.” Officials at election headquarters began reporting results soon after midnight, despite a statement from the Minister of the Interior that the first returns would not be announced until after the morning prayer (around 4:00 a.m.).
Many supporters of other presidential candidates came out into the streets on June 13th, once the results were made public, to protest what they believed to be a fraudulent election. Candidates Mir Hossein Musavi, Mehdi Karubi, and Mohsen Reza’i, Ahmadinejad’s competitors in the race, contested the election, alleging many instances of fraud. They filed complaints with the Council of Guardians, the constitutional body charged with vetting candidates before elections take place and approving the results afterwards, requesting an annulment and calling for a new election. Before the Council of Guardians could review their claims, however, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election. In the meantime, many people active in Karubi’s and Musavi’s campaigns were arrested.
On June 15th, unprecedented demonstrations filled the streets of central Tehran, in which an estimated three million protestors participated, according to statements attributed to the mayor of Tehran. As the demonstrations were ending, paramilitary forces attacked the marchers, injuring and killing several people. To prevent such news from being broadcast, the Iranian government expelled foreign journalists from the country and banned news agencies from reporting on the events. Over the next three days, protesters took part in peaceful demonstrations in Tehran. The repression entered a new phase on June 19th after Ayatollah Khamenei’s Friday sermon, in which he announced his support for Ahmadinejad and warned protestors that they were responsible for any disorder and its consequences. Amnesty International stated that the speech gave “legitimacy to police brutality.” The next day and thereafter, police and plainclothes paramilitary groups attacked the protesters. Public gatherings of any kind were declared illegal, and police, motorcycle-riding special units wearing black uniforms and helmets, and plainclothes agents brutally enforced this restriction.
Individuals in civilian clothing, commonly referred to as plainclothes forces, are used in the Islamic Republic to disrupt political and trade union activities, student events and gatherings, electoral initiatives, and protests. Armed with sticks and clubs, and sometimes with chains, knives, batons, or firearms, they emerge when the state decides to suppress dissent. These plainclothes forces move about freely, violently beating protesters and arresting them, while the police passively look on or actively cooperate with them.
There is little information on the command structure and organization of such groups, whose members wear ordinary clothing rather than official uniforms and may be affiliated with the ministry of information, influential political groups, or the armed forces. Following the post-election demonstrations in June 2009, pictures of some plainclothes agents were posted on internet websites. Internet users helped to identify some of them and provided evidence that these individuals were affiliated with the Basij paramilitary groups, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and state intelligence forces. On September 16, 2009, a deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps of the Province of Tehran confirmed the active and decisive role of Basij forces in the repression of the demonstrations, saying, “Basijis, through their presence in recent events, have blinded the eyes of the conspirators, and they should be appreciated… The enemies of Islam wanted to make the air dusty and to exploit the recent events, but thank God, through the enlightenment of the Honorable Leader we were victorious against this conspiracy.” He also emphasized, “The zealous youth of [the] Basij, believers in the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, are the second and third generations of the Revolution. They have been successful in this stage and victorious on this battlefield.”
When personal property was damaged during the protests, government authorities and state-run radio and television programs accused the demonstrators of vandalism and justified the repression. At the same time, however, footage posted online showed security forces destroying and damaging property on side streets and in uncongested areas away from the protests. Moreover, in a public gathering in Tehran on October 20th, the chief of Iranian police conceded that police had destroyed and damaged property and accepted responsibility for it.
The precise number of citizens injured, killed, or disappeared in the post-election violence is not known. According to various reports, there were hundreds of victims in demonstrations throughout the country. More than seventy names have been reported. It is said that officials have threatened victims’ family members, demanding their silence and that they refrain from giving interviews. Reports also allege that returning a victim’s body to a family has been made conditional upon their agreement to change the cause of death listed on the coroner’s certificate to that of a heart attack or some other natural cause — thus foregoing the right to file a complaint — as well as the family's agreement not to hold memorial services for the loved one.
According to government statements, more than 4,000 people were arrested throughout Iran in the weeks following June 12th. Many have been held at the Kahrizak Detention Center, where prisoners’ rights and minimum hygiene standards are typically ignored. Numerous reports of violence, including the torture and rape of detainees, have been published. State reports and testimonies confirm that a number of detainees at Kahrizak died in custody due to beatings, difficult and unbearable prison conditions, and torture.
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.
Based on the available information, some or all of the following human rights may 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 not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.
UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.
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 or 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 due process
Pre-trial detention rights
The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.
UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a
The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence
ICCPR, Article 14.3.d;
Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1 , Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.
The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.b; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8
The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.
ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.
The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1, and Article 2.
The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.
ICCPR, Article 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.
The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.
ICCPR, 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 1 and Article 2.