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

Kamal (Shwaneh) Asfarm (Qaderi)

About

Age: 26
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Killing: July 9, 2005
Location: Mahabad, Azarbaijan-e Gharbi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Death in custody
Charges: Sexual Offense; Murder; Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups; Sedition and/ or threat to public security; Actively opposing the Islamic Republic

About this Case

The information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Kamal Asfarm (also known as Shwaneh Qaderi also reported as Seyyed Qader) was drawn from an interview of a person close to Mr. Asfarm with Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF, August 11, 2006),the report by the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions (March 26, 2006, E/CN.4/2006/53), the statement by Human Rights Watch (August 10, 2005 and February 16, 2006), the report of Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (July 13, 2005), the Iranian Student’s News Agency (ISNA) reports (July 31, 2005), Sharif News (August 22, 2011), the BBC Persian (July 28, 2005), Deutsche Welle (July 22, 2005) and Police News Agency reports (July 28, 2005). This news was also reported by many foreign media outlets such as the New York Times (August 14, 2005) and Aljazeera (August 8, 2005).

Mr. Asfarm was a 24-year-old Kurdish man, a construction worker and a political activist who was killed by the police. He was on the police’s Wanted Person’s list for a while. After two days, some pictures of his tortured body were published on the internet. These pictures, aside from the scars obviously created by the forensic team’s autopsy examination, showed severe bruises and inflammations on his face, genital area and back. Following the publication of these pictures, people from the town of Mahabad protested in the streets. These protests spread to other cities in the Kurdistan Province, such as Baneh, Saqqez and Sardasht, and led to the arrest of many demonstrators and civil society activists (Human Rights Watch, August 10, 2005). At least 19 people were killed during these events. The names and numbers of these victims were listed in the report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary and Arbitrary Executions on March 26, 2006 (Special Rapporteur, March 26, 2006).

Death

At 7:30 p.m. on July 9, 2005 he was shot by teh police in the side and leg. The police took him away from the crime scene alive. Witnesses reported that police dragged Mr. Asfarm’s body on the ground for 50 meters before putting him in a car. The exact date of his death is not clear. According to the family the body was returned to them after autopsy on July 12 (ABF interview, August 11, 2005). Authorities claimed that they returned the body on the July 10 (Police News Agency, July 28, 2005).

According to Mr. Saleh Nikbakht, the Asfarm’s lawyer, the judiciary experts came to the conclusion that two bullets shot from a klashnikov rifle killed Mr. Asfarm. While the first bullet hit him in the leg and disabled him, the second bullet was shot from a very close distance and hit him in the chest (Etemad Melli, September 25, 2006).

State Officials’ Reactions

According to the Police News Agency, Colonel Behmanesh, Deputy of Guidance and Social Affairs to the Western Azarbaijan Police Chief, reported that in the afternoon of July 9, 2005, police received a report about Mr. Asfarm’s whereabouts in Poshtap, a neighborhood in Mahabad. The police officers saw Mr. Asfarm drinking alcohol with his friends. According to Colonel Behmanesh, Mr. Asfarm attacked the officers with a knife and one of the officers shot him in defense. Afterwards, the officers took him to a hospital in an ambulance immediately but he bled to death. Then, the body was taken to the forensic office and was returned to the family after an autopsy on July 10, 2005 (Police News Agency, July 28, 2005).

The Police News Agency, after Mr. Asfarm’s death on July 28, 2005, reported that Mr. Asfarm was wanted for “murder, extortion, sedition, rape and blackmail”. Additionally, Mr. Akbar Feiz, the President of the Judiciary of Western Azarbaijan Province convicted him of seeking asylum in grouplets and hindering the election (BBC Persian, August 17, 2005). In addition, the Governor of Western Azarbaijan Province said to ISNA that Mr. Asfarm evaded military service and because of this, he was prosecuted by the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces (Sharif News, August 22, 2011). This veracity of latter conviction was confirmed by a person close to Mr. Asfarm. This person said that Mr. Asfarm refused to serve his military service because he believed that the conscripts were cruel to the people (ABF interview, August 11, 2006).

Colonel Behmanesh also reiterated that the bruises, which were visible in the pictures circulating on the internet, were caused by the autopsy examination and appearance of the body had changed due to decomposition that occurs in the human body days after death. The Colonel also stated that the people who published those pictures were enemies. On August 15, Firuz Mohammadi, the Chief of Azarbaijan Forensic Office denied the probability that Mr. Asfarm was tortured and claimed that the bruises on the body were self inflicted (BBC Persian, July 28, 2005). Sharif News, a news agency with ties to the government, stated that the bruises on the body were the signs of livor mortis (Sharif News, August 22, 2006). Amir Geravand, the Police Chief of Western Azarbaijan Province claimed that an armed group took the body from the Asfarm family at night, took pictures of the body, edited the pictures, and published them on some websites (ISNA, July 31, 2005).

Despite these initial statements, a truth commission was commissioned to go to Mahabad from Tehran to investigate Mr. Asfarm’s death. According to the Governor of Western Azarbaijan Province, a six-person commission was organized and composed of representatives from the Ministry of the Interior, the Police, and the Judicial Organization of the Armed Forces. The committee talked to Mr. Asfarm’s father in Mahabad and a couple of local leaders. According to the report of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan and the Asfarm’s lawyer, one of the police officers who was arrested because of Mr. Asfarm’s murder was released on bail of $50,000 dollars by the Revolutionary Tribunal of Orumieh (Etemad Melli, March 3, 2005).

The Reactions of Family and Nongovernmental Recourses

According to Mr. Asfarm’s family and the officials, the police were pursuing Mr. Asfarm long before the incident. According to the information provided by the police and independent sources, Mr. Asfarm played a key role in organizing gatherings in Mahabad and in boycotting the presidential election in 2005. Mr. Asfarm’s family’s lawyer denied the official claims regarding alleged crimes committed by the victim and said that “he was not convicted of or sentenced for any accounts of murder or crimes against chastity. [As with] other cases, the reality was not exactly how it was reflected in the media” (Etemad Melli, September 25, 2006).

According to a person close to Mr. Asfarm, the Ministry of Intelligence agents had been after him since long before the incident. A colonel telephoned the family numerous times and pressured them to hand Mr. Asfarm over to the authorities. He threatened them that if they did not hand him over, they would not be able to see him ever again. Once, this colonel slapped Mr. Asfarm’s father on the face and told the family that they had to anesthetize Mr. Asfarm and hand him over to the police. The agents never explained why they were after him. His family only saw one arrest warrant for him, which was related to his failing to present himself for the mandatory military service (ABF interview, August 11, 2006).

According to Masoud Kurdpour, an independent Kurdish journalist and human rights activists, on July 9, Mr. Asfarm was in a car passing by a building that was being built for the Mahabad Paramedical School. He was recognized by a police unit and his car was shot at by the police (Deutsche Welle, July 22, 2005).

Also, the person interviewed by ABF, said, quoting two eye witnesses, that two conscripts dragged Mr. Asfarm’s body over the rough ground for 50 meters and threw him in a jeep (ABF interview, August 11, 2006). This account was confirmed by other reports by independent activists and media. In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Mr. Masoud Kurdpour confirmed that Mr. Asfarm’s body had been dragged. Amnesty International reported this news as well.

Moreover, according to the same source, Mr. Asfarm was not taken to the hospital after the incident and that the family search in the only hospital in that city had no result. . The police told the family that Mr. Asfarm was in the hospital but shortly after, a local conscript told the Asfarms that he saw Shwaneh being taken to the police station and that he was wounded. Mr. Asfarm’s body was returned to his family on July 12, whereas the police report declared the date the body was returned as July 10. Before allowing the family to take the body, the police forced them to pay $50 dollars [as compensation for] the bullet that killed Mr. Asfarm (ABF interview, August 11, 2006).

The Asfarms brought a lawsuit against two police officers to the Court Marshal of Orumieh, but not until August 11, 2006 did they receive any response to their complaint, with an exception of a court summon (ABF interview, August 11, 2006).

On September 25, 2006, Mr. Nikbakht said in an interview with ISNA that only as of the date of the interview had the culprits been identified and had it been determined how the shootings took place. The second shot to the chest was an example of illegal use of arms and was identified explicitly as a murder. Yet, according to article 32 of the Criminal Procedure, releasing the defendant on bail in the case of murder is illegal. The lawyer objected to this bail but his protest was dismissed. The lawyer told ISNA that the case took a long time because a conflict of jurisdiction, which was resolved in favor of the General Court of Orumieh by the Supreme Court (ISNA, July 31, 2005).

It is noteworthy that despite the fact that the culprits are identified, that the conflict of jurisdiction was resolved, five years after the murder of Mr. Asfarm in June 2011, there has been no news about the prosecution or punishment of the culprits. According to an unconfirmed report, the main defendant in Mr. Asfarm’s murder case was acquitted from all of the charges and released three years after the murder on October 30, 2008 (Asre No, November 13, 2008).

International Reactions

On March 26, 2006, in his final report to the UN General Assembly, Mr. Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Killings, Summary and Arbitrary Executions, referred to some allegation letters about the Kurdistan killings including the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Asfarm. The Special Rapporteur reminded Iran of its obligations regarding the use of lethal force and that its use should only be implemented as a last resort when there are no alternatives available. Finally, thorough investigations should be conducted. Mr. Alston asked the government of Iran some questions: Are these allegations correct? The Iranian government should provide some details and documents about these deaths such as forensic reports, etc. It should also provide some information about the investigations about these killings. Could the Iranian police force have used non-lethal means to disperse the crowd? And if yes, why did they still decide to use the lethal forces? The Special Rapporteur reiterated that: “The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran failed to cooperate with the mandate he has been given by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.” (March 26, 2006, E/CN.4/2006/53).

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