Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Jamshid Siyavushi

About

Age: 39
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: June 16, 1983
Location of Killing: Abdollah Mesgar Garrison (Chogan Square), Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Religious offense; Espionage
Age at time of offense: 39

About this Case

Mr. Siavoshi was a trustworthy, pious, and charitable man. His life had been threatened and his property had been looted for promoting the Baha’i religion, and he had therefore been forced to leave his place of residence on numerous occasions and rebuild his life elsewhere.

News of the execution of Mr. Jamshid Siyavushi and 5 other Baha’i men was published in Baha’i News monthly, a publication belonging to the National Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is of the United States (June 18, 1983); Baha’is Public Relations Office (June 20, 1983); and The Times newspaper (June 21, 1983). He was one of the 206 individuals whose name was published in the Worldwide Baha’i Community’s 1999 report. This report, entitled The Baha’i Question: Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community”, dealt with the persecution of members of the Baha’i faith in Iran by the Islamic Republic, and contained a list of Baha’is who were killed in Iran since 1979. Additional information was obtained from Khabar-e Jonoob newspaper (February 12, and February 22, 1983); The New York Times (May 22, 1983); Sahifeye Imam (The Imam’s Book”), Volume 17 (May 28, 1983); Baha’i World Almanac, Volume 18, 1979-1983 (Haifa, 1986); an account of events as published in “A Tribute to the Faithful” by Mah Mehr Golestaneh (1992); the book “Olya’s Story” written by Olya Ruhizadegan; Andalib Magazine (Winter 1988), the Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran (undated);  Yaftan-e Mazar (“Finding the resting places”) website; Morteza Esmailipur’s YouTube Channel (January 26, and June 15, 2016); Martyrs of the Baha’i Religion website (undated);  Iran Press Watch website (June 17, 2017); Dar Gozar-e Tarikh (“Throughout History”) Telegram Channel (June18, 2019); and the Report of the United States Congressional Hearing published in the World Order Magazine (Winter 1983-1984).

Mr. Siyavushi was born in 1944-45 in Adassieh, Jordan. He spent his childhood in the city of Yazd and studied there. After finishing his mandatory military service, Mr. Siyavushi lived in Nurabad in Mamassani [Fars Province] for a time, and then moved to Tehran and took up residence in the outskirts of the town of Varamin. He was a member of the local Spiritual Assembly in that region. Mr. Siyavushi was married and loved his wife very much. He was a member of the local Spiritual Assembly and the Assembly’s treasurer, and was a member of the Lajneh Malhufiun (“displaced persons’ committee”) (1) in the city of Shiraz. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, undated; Andalib Magazine; Morteza Esmailipur’s YouTube Channel, June 15, 2016).

In 1976-77, Mr. Siyavushi and his wife, Ms. Tahirih Arjumandi Siyavushi , settled in the city of Yassuj in order to establish a Baha’i assembly there. He ran a retail store there. Mr. Siyavushi and his wife were forced to leave Yassuj in December 1978, and take up residence in Shiraz, after a group of individuals, instigated by a cleric, attacked and pillaged their home and property. They spent a while in poverty. He opened a retail clothing store in Shiraz and his business started doing well approximately in the Summer of 1982. He and his wife supported Baha’is whose property had been expropriated. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, undated; Andalib Magazine; Iran Wire).

In March 1979, Mr. Siyavushi was detained for one night at the Yassuj Revolutionary Committee. (Yaftan-e Mazar website).

Mr. Siyavushi’s case is related to the death sentence issued for 22 Baha’is and the execution of 6 Baha’i men and 10 Baha’i women in June 1983 in Shiraz.

Extensive international efforts were made in order to save the imprisoned Baha’is. About a month prior to the implementation of the death sentences, then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan asked the Islamic Republic of Iran’s authorities to stop the executions. A week after the American President’s message, Ayatollah Khomeini, then-Leader of the Islamic Republic, addressing the U.S. government at a gathering of Iranian officials and stated: “We wouldn’t have heard a peep out of you if these people were not spies. [You’re speaking up now] because these are a bunch of people who are on your side and [protect] your interests…And now [you] are making all this noise for 22 Baha’is, who, they claim, ‘have gotten entangled and been entrapped’ in Iran, and now all of a sudden [you] are humanitarians and are crying foul and pleading with the whole world to come to these people’s rescue. [But] people know you [better]…” (The New York Times, May 22, 1983; Sahifeye Imam, Volume 17, May 28, 1983).

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Background

The Baha’i religious community is the largest minority group in Iran, with approximately 300,000 members in 1979 (more current figures are not available).*  The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected Baha’is religious  to systematic harassment and persecution, depriving them of their most fundamental human rights. The Baha’i religion is not recognized under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, and Iranian authorities refer to it as a heresy. As a result, the Baha’is have been denied the rights associated with the status of a religious minority; they cannot profess and practice their faith and are banned from public functions. Discrimination under the law and in practice has subjected them to abuse and violence. **

Arrest and detention

In the evening of October 26, 1982, a number of Revolutionary Guards Corpsmen followed Mr. Siyavushi to the door of his uncle’s home and arrested him in the street. He was taken to the Revolutionary Guards detention center in Shiraz and was detained and tortured there for six weeks. Mr. Siyavushi’s arrest took place a short time after several Baha’is, including 5 members of the Shiraz Spiritual Assembly, were arrested. He was not willing to leave Shiraz even though he knew he was being sought by the authorities, and intended to continue serving Shiraz’ Baha’i community. According to some of his cellmates, he was interrogated and tortured either in the presence of the Shari’a judge or at his hands. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, undated; Andalib Magazine; Morteza Esmailipur’s YouTube Channel, January 26, 2016).

As the Shiraz Baha’is’ Spiritual Assembly’s treasurer, Mr. Siyavushi had access to the list of the names of Baha’is and their financial information, and was so severely tortured to divulge [that information] that he attempted suicide. Mr. Siyavushi was also under tremendous pressure for being a member of the Lajneh Malhufiun, and for lending a helping hand to other Baha’is. When he protested the torture, Mr. Siyavushi was told that he was being treated according to “Islamic justice”. He had then asked his interrogators and torturers to treat him according to “Islamic wisdom and virtue”. According to reports by his wife and family, he had lost a lot of weight and was not even able to stand on his feet. The wounds on his legs and spine had become infected. In addition to being subjected to beatings and flogging, he was also deprived of sleep and food, and had told his family that the authorities took him around town at night so he could show them the homes of other Baha’is. He was transferred from the Revolutionary Guards detention center to Shiraz’ Adelabad Prison where he was kept until his execution. He had visitations with his family while in prison. During his stay at the Revolutionary Guards detention center, he saw his wife who was also incarcerated there, on a single occasion. (Andalib Magazine; Morteza Esmailipur’s YouTube Channel, June 15, 2016; The Times newspaper, June 21, 1983).

Trial

The Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court tried Mr. Siyavushi. (Andalib Magazine).

According to available reports, the authorities had told Mr. Siyavushi and his co-defendants that they would give them four “sessions” in which to reject their religion and accept Islam. Mr. Siyavushi was told that he would be killed if he did not sign a prepared statement in repudiation of Baha’ism. It is not clear whether all these sessions took place and whether they were intended to replace the trial sessions or not. (Baha’i News monthly; Khabar-e Jonoob, February 12, 1983; the book “Olia’s Story”; Iran Wire).

Charges

The court decision in Mr. Siyavushi’s case was not given to his family. Available information indicates, however, that the charges brought against him were related to his religious beliefs. Mr. Siyavushi had been interrogated and put under pressure to deny his faith during his detention. Furthermore, according to an interview published in Khabar-e Jonoob newspaper, the Shari’a judge adjudicating the case who was the head of the Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court had warned Baha’is “to take refuge in the arms of dearest Islam… and to reject Baha’ism which is intellectually and logically damned [and void].” (Andalib Magazine; Khabar-e Jonoob newspaper, February 22, 1983).

In explaining the charges brought against the defendants, the Shari’a judge stated that they were arrested because they were active members of the Baha’i organization, and that they were also [charged with and] being tried for their “direct or indirect” contact with [the Baha’i] “Beit-ol-Adl” (“The House of Justice”) headquartered in Israel which follows [the dictates of] the State of Israel. The Shari’a judge emphasized that the religious activities of the defendants were “criminal” activities, and that “pursuant to Principle Thirteen of the Constitution, any activity by the Baha’is is unconstitutional, and organizing and establishing Assemblies, “Lajne” (“committees”), Parties, and the like, are all crimes.”

In the interview, the Shari’a judge called on all Baha’is (and not just Baha’i activists) to either reject their faith, or accept and suffer the consequences, “otherwise, in a not too distant future, there will come a day where the Ummah (“people”, “adherents”) of Islam will act in accordance with their Islamic duties toward Baha’is…who adhere to [the dictates of] a Satanic religion. And a word of warning to Baha’is… the Ummah of Hezbollah (“the Party of Allah”) will be perfectly capable of eradicating them [once and for all].” (Khabar-e Jonoob newspaper, February 22, 1983).

In a speech given in late May 1982, Ayatollah Khomeini alluded to the 22 Baha’is put on trial and expressly called them “spies”, stating: “Baha’is are not a religion, they’re a political party, a political party that Britain used to support in the past, and now America is supporting … [We would not have tried and sentenced them] if they were not spies. There are many other people who also have misguided and deviant beliefs, who are communist, [for example,] or other things; but our courts did not arrest and imprison them just because they were communist or had deviant beliefs.” (Sahifeye Imam, Volume 17, May 28, 1983; The Times newspaper, June 21, 1983).

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.  International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

There is no indication of what the evidence presented against Mr. Siyavushi regarding allegations of contact with Israel and spying was. In his interview with “Khabar-e Jonoob” newspaper, the Shari’a judge and head of the Revolutionary Court stated Baha’is’ activities and beliefs constituted the evidence of crime. The Shari’a judge dismissed the claim that Baha’is do not interfere in politics and abide by the government, and noted that they had not supported the Islamic Republic and had their own [independent] organization. [Applying an incoherent double standard,] the Shari’a judge considered, on the one hand, the Baha’is’ independent organization [and apparatus] in Iran as evidence of not adhering to and following the government of the Islamic Republic, but on the other hand, considered the mere fact that [the Baha’is’] Dar-ol-Adl (headquarters) is located in Israel, and is similarly independent of that country’s government, as evidence of the adherence [and allegiance] of the Baha’i faith and its followers’ to the State of Israel.

From the Shari’a judge’s perspective, the fact that the Baha’is’ organization was separate and independent of “Islam’s organization”, was, in and of itself, evidence of the adherents of the Baha’i faith’s treachery, betrayal, and sin: “We are therefore witnessing that these germs, these seeds of corruption, these children of Satan and mercenaries of Israel’s Beit-ol-Adl, have established an organization and governance, albeit ridiculous, to confront the rule and organization of Islam. What’s funny is that they say we follow the government’s rule and we will abide by whatever the government tells us. But this is in fact a cover to hide their actions that are separate from [and independent of the wishes of] the people.”

Defense

At trial, Mr. Siyavushi submitted to the court a number of receipts of the [Baha’i] charitable [organization] related to the Shiraz Baha’i community’s financial and non-financial assistance to displaced people from the war-torn regions of Abadan and Khorramshahr, as well as to victims of the Khorassan [Province] earthquake, and stated: “It makes no difference to us whether someone is Baha’i or Moslem; we have a duty to serve, help, and be kind to our fellow human beings. All one needs is a minimal amount of fairness [and charity].”

At his trial, Mr. Siavoshi had said: “It makes no difference to us whether someone is Baha’i or Moslem; we have a duty to serve, help, and be kind to our fellow human beings. All one needs is a minimal amount of fairness [and charity].”

Mr. Siyavushi did not have access to an attorney and no further information is available regarding his defense at trial.

Judgment

In mid-February 1983, the Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced Mr. Siyavushi and 21 other individuals to death. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court.

On June 16, 1983, two days before the execution of his wife, Mr. Jamshid Siyavushi and 5 other Baha’i men**** were transferred from Adelabad Prison to Shiraz’ Abdollah Mesgar Garrison, better known as Chogan (“Polo”) Square and hanged. (The Times newspaper, June 21, 1983; Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran).

The authorities did not provide Mr. Siyavushi’s family with a copy of the court decision. In an interview with Khabar-e Jonoob newpaper, however, the head of the Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court, justifying the ruling in the Baha’is case, stated: “It is a clear and unquestionable fact that there is not the slightest room for Baha’ism and Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He labelled the individuals sentenced to death as “Koffar Herabi” (meaning atheists who live outside the boundaries set by Islamic rule and have no rights, even the right to life. [The terms literally means “atheists or infidels with whom Moslems must wage war”]), and added: “These people who have been sentenced to death were active members of Baha’ism, from whom naïve people were not safe, and whose affiliation [and allegiance] to domestic and foreign devils was unquestionable, and their enmity toward Islam and Moslems was obvious to a great extent.” He also cited Koran’s Nooh Surah, Verse 26, and promised the prompt execution of the convicted Baha’is. In this Verse [and in Verse 27 that follows], Noah calls upon God and says: “My Lord! Leave not a single one of the disbelievers on Earth. Indeed, if You leave them, they will mislead Your servants and will beget none except [ingrate] sinners and disbelievers.” (Khabar-e Jonoob newspaper, February 22, 1983).

As a result of the publication of this interview, the families of the prisoners went to see the Fars Province Friday Prayer Imam and the Province Governor, as well as the authorities in the capital, to make sure the news was accurate. At the same time, international efforts to save the Baha’is from execution also began, but they bore no fruit.

Two days before the execution of Baha’is, the workers at the Shiraz’ Golestan-e Javid cemetery  were told by the authorities to make some graves ready. When the family of Mr. Siyavushi and others came to know this, they all gathered in front of the Judiciary’s morgue, but the bodies were not handed over tp thme and authorities buried them in the already prepared graves without washing the corpses and without observing any burial rites. Revolutionary Gurads had total control over the Golestan-e Javid cemetery at the time, and they did not give permission to the families of the executed Baha’is to even enter the cemetery and visit the graves. (Andalib Magazine, Morteza Esmailipur’s YouTube Channel (January 26, and June 15, 2016)

-------------------------------------

* “Lajneh” is a committee that functions locally and is managed by the Spiritual Assembly. ‘Slow Death for Iran’s Baha’is’ by Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine,20 February 1984. Also see ‘The Persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, 1844-1984, by Douglas Martin, Baha’i Studies,volume 12/13, 1984, p. 3. There is no information about the current number of Baha’is in Iran.
** ‘Slow Death for Iran’s Baha’is’ by Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine,20 February 1984. Also see ‘The Persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, 1844-1984, by Douglas Martin, Baha’i Studies,volume 12/13, 1984, p. 3. There is no information about the current number of Baha’is in Iran.
*** The Islamic Republic Penal Code grants no rights to Baha’is, and the courts have denied them the right to redress or to protection against assault, murder, and other forms of persecution and abuse. In so doing, the courts have treated Baha’is as unprotected citizens or “apostates,” citing eminent religious authorities whose edicts are considered a source of law equal to acts of Parliament. The Founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made execution a punishment for the crime of apostasy and decreed that a Muslim would not be punished for killing an apostate
Banishment from public functions has seriously damaged the Baha’is’ professional, economic, and social lives. Soon after the revolution, a Ministry of Labor directive called for the dismissal from public office and all governmental organizations and associations of those “who belong to any of the misguided sects recognized by all Muslims as heretical deviations from Islam, or to organizations whose doctrine and constitution are based on rejection of the divinely-revealed religions.” Finally, the mandatory requirement of specifying religion in application forms and official documents (lifted recently in some areas under international pressure) has seriously limited Baha’is’ freedoms and opportunities in all areas of their lives including divorce, inheritance, access to universities and travel.
In practice, since 1980, thousands of Baha’is have lost their jobs, pensions, businesses, properties and educational opportunities. By banning the Baha’i administration including Spiritual Assemblies -  the elected bodies that lead and administer the affairs of Baha’i communities at both local and national levels -  the Islamic Republic has denied Baha’is the right to meet, elect, and operate their religious institutions. Further, the Iranian government has executed at least 200 Baha’is and has imprisoned, tortured, and pressured to convert to Islam scores more.
Because of the unanimous international condemnation of the persecution of this quietist, apolitical religious community, Iranian authorities do not always admit that the Baha’is are being punished for their religious beliefs. Therefore, judicial authorities have often charged Baha’is with offenses such as “being involved in counter-revolutionary activities,” “having supported the former regime,” “being agents of Zionism,” or “being involved with prostitution, adultery, and immorality.”
**** Abdu'l-Husayn Azadi, Kurush Haqbin, Inayatu'llah Ishraqi, Bahram Yalda'i, and Bahram Afnan.

Correct/ Complete This Entry