Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Shahrokh Rahmani

About

Age: 24
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown

Case

Date of Execution: December 27, 2009
Location: Tehran, Iran
Mode of Execution: Unspecified extrajudicial execution

Human rights violations in this case

Extrajudicial killings


Since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, national and international human rights organizations have blamed the Islamic Republic authorities for the extrajudicial killing of their opponents, both within and outside of Iran's 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 Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and in the United States,.

In many assassination cases outside Iran, 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.

 

The German court in Berlin 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...."

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, some or all of the following human rights may have been violated in this case:

  • 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 freedom of peaceful assembly.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 21.

The right to due process

Pre-trial detention rights

  • 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 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.

Trial rights

    • 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.

Judgment rights

  • The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

    ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

    ICCPR, Article 6.4.

Capital punishment
  • 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.

About this Case

What the authorities wanted from Mr. Rahmani’s family was to declare them, the police, harmless, after their vehicles spent part of the Day of Ashura driving over people.

Information about Mr. Shahrokh Rahmani, son of Hamzeh and born on August 16, 1984, was gathered from the following sources: the Islamic Republic News Agency (December 27 and 29, 2009), the Islamic Students News Agency (December 30, 2009), the Fars News Agency (December 27 and 30, 2009), the Police News Center (December 29, 2009), the Rahe Sabz website (December 31, 2009), the website of the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in Tehran, as well as the video clip of the Voice of America interview with Mr. Rahmani’s brother (January 6, 2010), which was posted to YouTube.

On Sunday, December 27, 2009, Mr. Rahmani was run over and killed by a police vehicle near the Azadi Square in Tehran.

The police called Mr. Rahmani’s brother and informed him of his brother’s death. The police asked his brother to visit the coroner’s office to identify the body. On December 28, Mr. Rahmani’s brother went to the Kahrizak coroner’s office. Mr. Rahmani’s body was returned to his family on the condition that they would not speak publicly about him. The death certificate stated that the cause of death was to be determined. The police threatened the Rahmani family and stated that they should proclaim that Mr. Rahmani died in a regular car accident [not related to the police].

The memorial ceremony for Mr. Rahmani took place at the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery on December 30, 2009. Shahrokh Rahmani was 24.

Background

Following the presidential election of June 2009 and the widespread protests against its result, the government tried to prevent demonstrations by labeling them “illegal” and by violently suppressing demonstrators. Despite the intimidating circumstances, protesters poured into the streets on various religious and official anniversaries – Qods Day, Ashura Day, the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution (February 11), and that of the occupation of the U.S. Embassy (November 14) – rallying and marching to show discontent with the regime.

On the Day of Ashura (December 27, 2009), protests in Tabriz and Tehran turned violent, and at least eight individuals were killed. State-run news agencies, such as Fars and Mehr, reported that banks and other public and private property were destroyed and burned. The Tehran Police Department issued a statement on the same day stating, “unfortunately a limited number of conspirators… disrupted public order through their presence in the streets during the religious ceremonies while chanting denigrating slogans.” In an interview with the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, an eyewitness who participated in the Ashura demonstration stated, “The night before, we contacted friends to see who would come to the demonstration the next day. We did not expect that anyone would be killed on that day because of its religious significance. Compared to the first days after the election, some people were afraid [on Ashura Day], having seen the victims and heard about torture in the prisons. People were more careful not to be arrested. At 10 a.m., we went to the streets, such as Hafez, Taleqani, and Enqelab streets, and stayed there until 1 p.m. Most of the clashes took place on these three streets.

“Police started the violence. At one point, we were walking along Taleqani Street, when a police vehicle passed by some protesters. We thought that they were going toward Vali’asr Square, but [the vehicle] stopped a hundred meters ahead of us. The police officers got out of the car and began shooting tear gas at people. In the past, the police would wait for people to form a crowd before shooting at them, but this time the police did not wait at all. Demonstrators were moving toward Vali’asr Street, but the police began shooting [tear gas] to prevent the crowd from reaching [Vali’asr Street].”

“However, people were prepared for violence this time. When the police began attacking, people at first fled but then started to throw stones at the police. The destruction on the Day of Ashura was greater [than during previous days]. Protesters did not damage buildings much, but garbage cans were set on fire in the middle of the streets. A police vehicle was also set on fire, which had happened before. Many people in the streets were religious people who were mourning, beating their chests, and chanting slogans against the government at the same time. Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, my friend’s cousin informed us that a person had been thrown off the Hafez Bridge and that people heard the sound of shooting around Vali’asr Square. In the afternoon, when the number of protesters gradually diminished, the pro-government forces increased and controlled Hafez Street. Then, about fifty veiled women appeared and chanted slogans in support of the government.”

Several video clips posted on YouTube and to other websites showed victims being killed. In one of these clips, a police vehicle is shown running over a protester several times. The names of at least five individuals who were killed by being run over by vehicles have been reported.

High ranking police officers released several confusing statements about the number of casualties on Ashura Day. They denied that police vehicles ran over protestors. The Deputy Chief of Police confirmed, however, that 300 persons were arrested on that day. A Tehran Police Department statement emphasized that “police forces… will harshly counter any infringement of religious dignity and principles, of the values of the Islamic Republic’s holy regime, and of the beliefs deeply rooted among the Muslim Iranian nation.” 

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