Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Behzad Mohajer


Age: 47
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: June, 2009
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Arbitrary shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Though not politically active, Mr. Mojaher went out among the election protestors that night.  He called his sister from Azadi Square:  lots of people; everything’s calm.

News of the death of Mr. Behzad Mohajer was published on the websites of Noruz and Ruz on August 3, 2009, Amirkabir on August 2 and 3, and Mojesabz Azadi on August 7, 2009. Additional information was received from the weblogs of his family members.

Mr. Mohajer participated in the peaceful demonstration against the presidential election’s results on June 15, 2009. His family had no news of him and there was no mention of him on the various official lists including the Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, Evin Prison, or hospitals’ lists until his body was delivered to them. In an interview with Ruz on August 3, 2009, his sister, who last spoke with Mr. Mohajer, said: “On June 15 at 9 in the evening, my brother called me and said that he was in Azadi Square and that a lot of people showed up, and everything was calm like the Tasu’a Day in 1978. We had no news of him after this call.” She continued: “For several days we called his cell phone with no response. My brother and my son were going to the Revolutionary Court, Evin Prison, and Forensics everyday, hoping to see his name on their list. But there was no news of him until my sister and I were able to identify him in the Kahrizak Forensics on August 1.” According to Ms. Mohajer, “Behzad was shot in his chest and arm, his mouth was injured and his teeth were broken, and he had a large hole in his chest.”

In an interview with Radio Farda, Mr. Nima Namdari, Mr. Mohajer’s nephew, said, “We opened his case as a lost person in the Criminal Public Prosecutor’s Office and, based on this, went to the forensic medical office twice, the second time about three weeks ago, and his picture was not there.” But, suddenly, his picture appeared on the list of forensics. According to Mr. Namdari, “on the forensics’ letter, it’s stated that the body was taken to them on June 21, before the time we went there. It means that the body was there and they did not inform us.” After adding that the family doesn’t know who delivered the body to the morgue, he added, “When we went to receive the body for burial, some relatives, who were physicians, and I were present and saw the body. Hospital bandages and marks were still on the body that was kept in the morgue for 40 days. Therefore physicians who accompanied us concluded that Behzad had been in a hospital for several days before his death.” He continued, “There was a cross like cut on his chest probably due to autopsy. There was a bullet mark on his left side around his heart and also evident dark blue marks and skin injuries. But it was not apparent whether these marks occurred before or after death.” About pursuing the case by Mr. Mohajer’s family, Mr. Namdari said, “We have opened a case at the Criminal Public Prosecutor’s Office and demanded that his murderer be identified and prosecuted, and we will definitely follow up this request.” Finally, he stated: “As a family who have no special connection, we cannot do much politically; however, we will follow up the case legally. We hope there are justice and an independent judiciary in this country and the perpetrators are identified and prosecuted.”

Mr. Mohajer was single and had lost his parents. His brother and sister and their children mourn for his death. According to his sister, “my brother was not indifferent about his society but he was not political or activist.” According to his relatives, he was a happy, joyful, and kind person and everything was organized in his house. Mr. Mohajer’s body was buried in section 208 of Behesht-e-Zahra cemetery on August 2, 2009.

Based on the information available, Mr. Mohajer’s brother-in-law, Mr. Ali Ashraf Namdari, was executed in the massacre of political prisoners at Tehran’s Evin Prison in 1988.


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 19thafter Ayatollah Khamenei’s Friday sermon. The speech was understood by many, including Amnesty International, as giving “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 were 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. 

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