Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Shahpur Jalili Kohneh Shahri


Age: 18
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: June 13, 1982
Location of Killing: Tabriz Prison, Tabriz, Azarbaijan-e Sharqi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Religious offense; Corruption on earth; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech; Armed rebellion against the Islamic Republic

About this Case

After finishing high school, and with the universities closed for the Cultural Revolution, Shahpur and a cousin moved to Tabriz, against parents’ wishes, to study Marx and learn lathe work.  

Information about Mr. Shahpur Jalili Kohneh Shahri, son of Jalil, was drawn from an interview with his brother. On June 16, 1982, the Kayhan newspaper announced his execution. He is one of the 12,028 individuals listed in an addendum to the Mojahed magazine (No. 261), published by Mojahedin Khalq Organization in 1985. The list includes individuals, affiliated with various opposition groups, who were executed or killed during clashes with the Islamic Republic security forces from June 1981 to the publication date of the magazine.

Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri was born on December 2, 1963, in Kohneh Shahr (near Salmas, in the north-western province of West Azarbaijan, in Iran). Influenced by politically active relatives, he began political activism as a sympathizer of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, Minority Faction. His activities consisted of reading articles and books on Marxism.

When Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri graduated from high school, he could not enroll in college because all universities were closed during the Cultural Revolution, which aimed to “Islamicize” the curricula as well as purge “counter-revolutionary” professors and students. Continuing his education was not an option at the time.  As such, Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri and his cousin moved from Salmas to Tabriz in July 1981 to learn to operate a lathe. According to information that his family found out later, the house where the two cousins lived was previously used as a safe-house by sympathizers of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization and it was under surveillance by state agents. Three months after they moved to Tabriz, they were both arrested.

Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s brother remembers, “Shahpur always helped my father. He was on good terms with everybody. His friend loved him a lot. He was positive and energetic. He was an innocent young man… and very intelligent with his studies. His family was proud of him.”

His cousin, Mr. Gholam Jalili Kohneh Shahri, a member of the Peykar Organization, was executed in Tehran’s Evin Prison in 1984.

The Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, a Marxist Leninist group inspired by the Cuban Revolution and the urban guerilla movements of Latin America, was founded in 1971 by two communist groups opposed to the Pahlavi regime. Following the 1979 revolution, the organization, which had renounced armed struggle, split over their support of the Islamic Republic and of the Soviet Union. The Fadaiyan Khalq Minority opposed the Islamic Republic and was active mainly in the political arena and the labor movement.

Arrest and detention

On November 9, 1981, a few armed Revolutionary Guards came to Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s house in the Sarcheshmeh neighborhood in Tabriz. The guards searched the house and arrested him and his cousin. Shahpur was 17 at the time of arrest.

State agents did not inform the family of Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s arrest. His sister went to his house and told their parents that she was unable to locate him. The neighbors told her that two or three persons had been arrested. She then went to Tabriz Prison to see whether he was held there but the prison officials did not respond to her questions. After this incident, their mother started making daily trips from Salmas to Tabriz and visited different authorities’ offices in an attempt to locate her son. Among others, she visited the headquarters of the Revolutionary Guards, police stations, headquarters of Basij para-military force, and Tabriz Prison. Officials refused to give her any news about Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri. About one month after hisarrest, Tabriz Prison officials informed the family that he was incarcerated in Tabriz prison.

Approximately three months after his arrest, Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri was allowed to visit his mother in prison. She could not recognize her son. He could not open his eyes because he had been held in a dark solitary cell for two weeks prior to the visit. He had lost weight, was wearing dirty clothes, and a long beard and hair. He was not allowed to shower while kept in solitary confinement.

After the first visit, Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s mother started to bring clean clothes for him and took his dirty clothes so that she could take them home and wash them. Once she found a small piece of paper in his clothes, on which he had written short notes. He declared that it was very unlikely for him to be released from prison. Using code words, he also asked his family to inform some friends that they were about to be arrested and that they should flee Salmas.

Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s parents met an individual who claimed he knew a cleric and that he could bribe the cleric so that Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s sentence would be reduced. When Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s mother visited him in prison, she told him not to worry and that she had found someone who could help release him from prison. He then indicated that his sentence was execution. His parents, nevertheless borrowed money and paid that person, after which they never saw him again.

On a visitation day, Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s younger brother went along with his mother to prison. Prison officials took him to an interrogation room where they questioned and threatened the 16-year old for a few hours and did not allow him to see his brother. Altogether, Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri was in custody for 7 months during which he had only 4 or 5 visits with his family.


The Kayhan newspaper report referred to a trial at the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tabriz, however the Jalili Kohneh Shahri family were unaware of a trial.


Prison officials told his mother that Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri was “an infidel.” However, the newspaper announced that he was charged with: “armed rebellion against the Islamic Republic of Iran with regard to [his activism with] the Minority group [the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization, Minority Faction]; being in charge of the aforementioned group in Salmas; being the contact person between Salmas and Tabriz; being responsible for five three-member teams; creating corruption in society; and misleading pure, Muslim youth to become infidels through propaganda for blasphemy and infidelity.”

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of guilt

At the time of arrest, Revolutionary Guards found a few magazines and books which contained Marxist ideas in them at Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s house.


Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri was denied legal representation. In prison, he refused to renounce his beliefs. He believed that reading magazine articles was not a crime. He refused to say prayers. According to his cousin, who was detained at the same time, prison officials held a grudge against him because he resisted their demands. Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri’s brother states that the charges enumerated in the newspaper report are baseless. “He never had a weapon and he had not committed any of the acts he was charged with.”


According to Kayhan, Mr. Shahpur Jalili Kohneh Shahri was shot by firing squad on June 13, 1982. He was 18 years old.

Soon after, his parents went to the prison to visit him. After a few hours, they went to the visitation room but did not see their son there. Prison officials led them to another room where they said they had “good news” for them. The officials then added, “your son was an infidel; we executed him. There are now fewer infidels on earth.” They refused to return the body to the family unless the latter paid for the bullets that were used to kill Mr. Jalili Kohneh Shahri. The family members complied.

The family intended to bury him in Salmas but state agents prevented them, saying that “infidels” could not be interred in that cemetery. The family then transferred the body to Kohneh Shahr and buried their son there. A few years later, someone spray-painted “death to communists” on his gravestone. Relatives had to change the headstone.


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