Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Kamran Samimi


Age: 56
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: December 27, 1981
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Religious offense; Espionage

About this Case

Reference to the execution of Mr. Kamran Samimi, a linguist, and seven other members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is in Iran, was made by the President of the Central Revolutionary Court in an interview in Kayhan number 11488 published on 20 January 1982 (30 Day 1360). Mr. Samimi is one of the 206 Iranian Baha’is listed in a 1999 report published by the Baha’i International Community. In addition, a report, The Persecution of the Baha’i Community of Iran, in The Baha’i World, Volume XIX, documents the persecution of the members of the Faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran and lists the Baha’is killed since 1978. More information has been drawn from other volumes of the The Baha’i World, A Tribute to the Faithful by Mah Mehr Gulistanih, The Baha’i Question: Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community as well as other documents provided by the Baha’i International Community.

Mr. Samimi was the founder of a center for the study of foreign languages in Tehran prior to his move to Indonesia in 1953, where he helped to strengthen the Baha’i community and institutions through his membership on the Southeast Asian Regional Assembly. Upon his return to Iran in 1972, Mr. Samimi was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tehran and later the National Spiritual Assembly of Baha’is in Iran.

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

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran - the largest religious minority, with approximately 300 thousand members in 1979(1)- 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.(2)

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran is not specific to the time of the Islamic Republic but it was in this era that it was amplified and institutionalized. During the Revolution itself, supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini attacked Baha’i homes and businesses and in certain instances, even committed murder.

On the eve of his return from France to Iran, in response to a question regarding political and religious freedom of Baha’is under the rule of an Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini stated: “They are a political party; they are harmful and detrimental. They will not be acceptable.” The interviewer asked another question: “Will they be free to perform their religious rites?” The Ayatollah responded: “No.” Khomeini had previously “spoken of the Baha’i threat to the Shah’s regime, Islam, national unity, and national security” in various speeches. (Asoo website, October 6, 2015).

Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly After the Islamic Revolution 

In the organizational structure of the Baha’i community, the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly is a body composed of nine individuals that are elected annually with the votes of adult Baha’is in each country. This institution tends to the affairs and issues of the Baha’i community on the national level. The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility of guiding, coordinating, and moving forward the activities of each country’s local spiritual assemblies, and establishing contact with Beit-al-Adl (“House of Justice”), the international council of the Baha’i faith, the highest decision-making authority in the world Baha’i community. 

The Bah’I’s Spiritual Assemblies were gradually suppressed. In Baha’I’s literature, the first assemply whose members were kidnapped is commonly known as the First National Assembly. In 1980 and 1981, the First, Second, and Third National Spiritual Assemblies, as well as local Baha’i spiritual assemblies in various cities, including Tehran, Yazd, Hamedan, and Tabriz, were severely persecuted and the majority of their members were executed. In “The Final Message of the Iran National Spiritual Assembly to the Friends of the Country”, the Third Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly, abiding by the principle of obeying the government, announced the closure of the Baha’i organizations, and at the same time, sent an open letter to two thousand well-known and high-ranking government figures asking an end to the arrest, detention, torture, execution, and injustice against Baha’is. (BBC Persian website, October 11, 2015). 

Judicial officials of the Islamic Republic have come up with [unreasonable and unacceptable] justifications for the persecution and the execution of the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies. In a speech on May 28, 1982, Ayatollah Khomeini said: “The Baha’is are not a religion, they’re a [political] party; it’s a party that was supported by Britain in the past, and now it’s being supported by America. They are spies.” (Sahifeye Noor, Volume 17, May 28, 1982).

The Baha’is deny the charge of relations with countries such as Israel, citing “the religious principle of ‘the requirement of staying out of politics’. They say that religious relations know no bounds, and that the Iranian Baha’i Spiritual Assembly has done nothing, and taken no action, against the Islamic Republic”. (Asoo website, August 9, 2015). 

It must be noted that the Beit-al-Adl was established in Haifa at a time where there was no such country as the state of Israel. The founders of the Baha’i faith, Baha’ollah in particular, had no choice but to leave Iran in the latter part of the 19thCentury under pressure and persecution, and to turn to Turkey and Iraq. 

Baha’ollah did not escape persecution under the Ottoman Empire either. He was imprisoned for a time in present day Turkey and was released in 1908. In 1909, Baha’ollah transferred the body of Ali Mohammad Baab – who had been executed in Iran in 1850 – to Beit-al-Adl. A short time before the start of the First World War, Baha’ollah settled as the leader of the Baha’is in Haifa, a city where Beit-al-Adl is located, and began to tend to the affairs and the issues of the Baha’i community. After World War I, when Palestine was under the British Mandate, the Baha’i community remained safe from persecution. (Boroumand Center research). 

Arrest and detention

Mr. Samimi was arrested on December 14, 1981 (23 Azar 1360) following a meeting of the National Assembly. The meeting was co-hosted by his wife at the home of a member of the Baha’i community. After their meeting came to an end, the guests began to leave discreetly in order to not draw attention to their gathering, as was often the case during the early days of the revolution. A few minutes after the first two guests left, they were arrested by revolutionary guards who had surrounded the house. The guards then entered the house to arrest Mr. Samimi, his wife and the rest of the members of the National Assembly and the hosts. They held Mr. Samimi and everyone else against the wall, blindfolded them, all the while shouting and asking about the ninth member of the Assembly who was absent from that meeting. They then ordered Mr. Samimi and the others to get into specific cars. According to eyewitness reports, when asked where they were being taken and at whose order, the guards made no response. The group was taken to the building of the National Oil Company’s Club, which served as Committee No. 4 in the Davudiyeh neighborhood.

According to reports by two survivors, the morning after his arrest, the authorities gathered Mr. Samimi and the nine other Baha’is arrested in an interrogation room and ordered them to fill out a questionnaire about names of Assembly members, relationship of the Baha’is to Israel, and the amount and location of Baha’i funds. The authorities interrogated him several times during his detainment.


The authorities provided no information to Mr. Samimi’s family regarding his trial and there are no eyewitness reports. However, an official document from the Central Islamic Revolutionary Chief Prosecutor’s Office, dated 28 December 1981 (7 Day 1360), indicates that Mr. Samimi was tried along with the other seven arrested members of the National Assembly by the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran.


The authorities did not provide the family of Mr. Samimi with any information regarding his charges. However, the above-mentioned document from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office indicates his charges as follows:

“1. Disrespect for the sacred beliefs of Islam, the Ulama and officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and ridiculing the people of Iran and considering the slogan of ‘neither west, nor east’ as barbaric.

“2. Connection with Israel by telephone, letter or other means and sending documents and news of Iran to Israel for action.

“3. Meetings with foreign dignitaries and officials of other countries with the aim of applying pressure to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“4. Contacting foreign radio broadcasters in America and the BBC and instigating them against the Islamic Republic following a long connection with them, in order to intensify or silence[?] the voice of America against Iran.

“5. Sending or receiving reports containing code words such as ‘Amoo jan’ [i.e. ‘dear uncle’] etc. in various languages to the House of Justice in Haifa [Israel].

“6. Sending information regarding prisons or decrees of Marajeh [religious guides] and Hazrat-e Imam [Khomeini] and instructions issued to houses of blasphemy [Baha’i institutions] by the House of Justice in Haifa.” 

Evidence of guilt

No information is available on the evidence presented against the defendant.


No information is available on Mr. Samimi’s defense. However, the representatives of the Baha’i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They note that Baha’is’ requests to access their files are usually denied, and that even though they are allowed to avail themselves of the services of a defense counsel since the mid-1990s, attorneys are often under pressure not to accept Baha’i clients. They refute the validity of charges such as counter-revolutionary political activities or spying leveled against them in Iranian courts. They point out that the fundamental principles of their religion require them to show loyalty and obedience to their government and to refrain from any political involvement. They believe that the accusation of espionage for Israel is unfounded and based solely on the fact that the Baha’i World Centre is in Israel. They point out that this centre was established on Mount Carmel in the late 19th century, long before the establishment of the State of Israel.


The authorities provided no details regarding Mr. Samimi’s judgment to his family and there are no eyewitness reports available. However, a communiqué of the Prosecutor’s Office published in Kayhan on December 28, he and the other National Spiritual Assembly members were convicted of espionage:

“As the the crime of espionage against the Islamic Republic and plotting against the people of Iran is proven and undeniable, they are [illegible] corruptors on earth and rebellious against the Islamic government of Iran and are, therefore, condemned to death. All their belongings are confiscated for the benefit of the Foundation of the Martyrs. Any of them whose family is in Iran is allowed one house which should be ordinary and of medium size”.

Furthermore, during a press conference, the President of the Central Revolutionary Courts confirms the conviction of Mr. Samimi and the other defendants for espionage: “It has become clear that this group or sect spies for colonial organizations. The damages that this destructive and vagrant sect has caused for our country! God is the Most Great! These colonial, more specifically Zionist assistants and spies have fought for years with the rule of Islamic Sharia in our country. After the Revolution, they continue to fight with the Islamic Revolution. It is binding upon religious judges and courts to punish them accordingly. It is certain that the individual members of this vagrant sect conduct political espionage, because after the detested and corrupted Pahlavi family, they were the largest group to pillage the wealth of this country… Some of the members of this sect suffer from mental weakness and the court is merciful to them and warns and returns them to life, because they are ignorant and have no understanding of the phenomenon of espionage” (Kayhan on 20 January 1982).

Mr. Samimi was executed on 27 December 1981 (6 Day 1360) but the authorities did not notify his family. An official of Evin Prison informally telephoned family contacts, following which survivors visited the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery and found his name on the list of those killed and buried by the authorities in a specific unmarked area referred to by the officials as kofrabad (land of infidels).


1- ‘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.
2- 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 to be 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. 

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