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

Mostafa Karim Beigi

About

Age: 26
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Single

Case

Date of Execution: December 27, 2009
Location: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Shooting (extrajudicial)

Human rights violations in this case

Extrajudicial killings


Since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, national and international human rights organizations have blamed the Islamic Republic authorities for the extrajudicial killing of their opponents, both within and outside of Iran's borders. Although over two hundred cases have been reported, the exact number of victims remains unknown.

Extrajudicial executions carried out in Iran are rarely investigated; the few cases that have been investigated have indicated that the Iranian state security apparatus has been involved. Agents of the Islamic Republic have also targeted dissidents outside the country, assassinating opposition members in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and in the United States,.

In many assassination cases outside Iran, local authorities have made no arrests. However, investigations, when they have taken place and been made public, have led to the single hypothesis of State ordered crimes. The organization and execution of these crimes constitute a pattern that Swiss prosecutor Roland Chatelain describes as “common parameters” following a “meticulous preparation.” Similarities between different cases in different countries have created a coherent set of presumptions designating the Islamic Republic as the instigator of these assassinations.

 

In cases involving prominent Iranians assassinated in France, Germany, and Switzerland, local prosecutors have provided evidence linking Iranian authorities to the crimes in question.

 

In France, for example, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 1991 murder of two dissidents. In Germany, agents of Iran's secret services and Lebanese Hezbollah have been convicted for the 1992 murder of four dissidents in Berlin. Currently, the Islamic Republic's Minister of Information and Security at the time of this murder is under an International arrest Warrant launched by German judicial authorities for his involvement.

 

The German court in Berlin found that Iran's political leadership ordered the murder through a "Committee for Special Operations," whose members reportedly include the Leader of the Islamic Republic, the President, the Minister of Information and Security, and other security officials.



The Islamic Republic’s officials have claimed responsibility for some of these assassinations while denying involvement in others. In the 1980s, Iranian authorities justified extrajudicial executions of dissidents and members of the former regime and actively worked for the release of Iranians and non-Iranian agents who were detained or convicted in the West for their involvement in those killings. During the 1990s, they systematically denied any involvement in extrajudicial killings and often credited the killings to infighting amongst the opposition.

 

Still, the rationale supporting these killings was articulated as early as in the spring of 1979 when the First Revolutionary religious judge publicly announced the regime's intention to carry out extrajudicial executions. He said:

 

“no state has the right to try as a terrorist the person who kills [exiles] in foreign lands, for this person is implementing the verdict issued by the Islamic Revolutionary tribunal.”

 

More than a decade later, in August, 1992, the Minister of Intelligence and Security publicly boasted about the success of Iran's security forces, alluding to the elimination of dissidents:

 

"We have been able to deal blows to many of the mini-groups outside the country and on the borders...."

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, some or all of the following human rights may have been violated in this case:

  • The right not to be punished for any crime on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence, under national or international law, at the time it was committed.

    UDHR, Article 11.2; ICCPR, Article 15, Article 6.2.

  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

    UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

    In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use or threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

    UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.

The right to due process

Pre-trial detention rights

  • The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or legal aid and the right to meet with one’s attorney in confidence

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.d; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1 , Article 2, Article 5, Article 6, and Article 8.

  • The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.b; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 8

  • The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    UDHR, Article 5; ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1, and Article 2.

Trial rights

    • The right to a fair and public trial without undue delay.

      ICCPR, Article 9.3, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

    • The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

  • The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

    ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

    ICCPR, Article 6.4.

Capital punishment
  • The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.

  • The right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

    ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.

About this Case

He had no political affiliation, but he was kind. What he could not stand to be was a person who keeps silent in the face of tyranny.

Information about Mr. Mostafa Karim-Beigi's case was taken from IRNA (December 27 & 29, 2009), ISNA (December 30, 2009), Fars News Agency (December 27 & 30, 2009), Iran Police News (December 29, 2009), Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery website, Rooz Online (March 14, 2010; January 10, 2011; September 26, 2010; December 14, 2010), the video of his father's interview with Voice of America (April 19, 2010), Green Path Movement –Jaras News Agency (May 22, 2011; December 29, 2009; January 4, 2010), Ayande News website (December 30, 2009; January 3, 2010), and Human Rights Activists News Agency, HRANA (December 30, 2009; December 27, 2013).

Mr. Mostafa Karim-Beigi was 26 years old and single, had a high-school diploma, and ran his own business.  He was not a member of any political party or group but, according to his family, was an outspoken and freedom-loving person.  As a student, he had formed a group named the Student Movement of Iran, and he would participate in all the annual commemorations of the vigilante attack on student dormitories in 1999.  Even though he had not voted in the 2009 presidential election, he took part in all the mass protests that ensued afterwards, always sporting a green scarf around his neck.  According to one of his friends, he had started debating with one of the Basij members during one of these protests, believing that "dialogue is our only weapon, the only way we can make our views known to the Basij so they will have an idea what it is we are asking for."  He underlined the importance of standing up against tyranny and was always critical of those who saw tyranny but did not raise their voices against it.  He had told his mother: "our blood has to be shed before things can start to get better."  He loved his country and said that he would be the first to go and fight for his country should there be a war.  He was a kind-hearted young man who helped the sick and those in need.  He had even registered as an organ donor, and his organs were donated for transplantation upon his death (his mother's interview with HRANA on December 27, 2013 and with Rooz Online on December 14, 2010, and his father's interview with Voice of America on April 19, 2010)

Based on the information available, Mr. Mostafa Karim-Beigi was shot in the forehead by the police and plainclothes forces near the College bridge on Enqelab (Revolution) Street at around 1 PM on Sunday, December 27, 2009 (the day of Ashura).  He was consequently thrown down from the bridge and killed.

The Officials' Reaction

Police and security forces did not inform Mr. Karim-Beigi's family of his death.  A statement issued by the Tehran Metropolitan Police Headquarters on December 29, 2009 announced the death of an unidentified individual as a result of falling from the bridge on the day of Ashura.  His family was finally able to identify his body in the forensic department of Kahrizak Detention Center after 14 days of searching for him in hospitals and prisons.  According to his mother, the forensic department declared the cause of death as "contact with hard object" and, in the death certificate, as "contact with sharp object in the chest" (Rooz Online, January 10, 2011).  Mr. Karim-Beigi's parents were pressured to accept the declared cause of death in order to receive their son's body.

The security officials allowed his burial in Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery under the condition that only his parents and sister could attend the burial.  This time the family did not accept the condition and decided to bury their son in the village of Jouqin near Shahriyar.  Mr. Karim-Beigi's body was buried at 8 PM on January 13, 2010, in silence and under strict security.  Before the burial, the security forces transported his body to Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery for the ritual washing, of which his family were not informed and which they could not attend, and then escorted the body to the burial place.  At the burial, the officers stood among and around the people present and took pictures and video (Rooz Online, March 14, 2010).  The place was filled with plainclothes forces.

According to his mother, the security officials had pressured the family to remain silent and stay away from interviews with the media.  Arriving at Mr. Karim-Beigi's family home with placards and flowers to commemorate the fortieth day of his death, the security forces had tried to claim Mr. Karim-Beigi as a praised Basij member, but his family, knowing that he had never been associated with the Basij, objected to this performance and decided to cancel the fortieth day ceremony for this reason.

The complaint filed by his family was abandoned with no results.  Ms. Shahnaz Akmali insists that this was due to the lack of serious will on the part of the authorities to find those who murdered protestors on the streets.  Their lawyer's attempts yielded no results either, and eventually the security police offered some blood money which was rejected by Mr. Karim-Beigi's family.  Threats and pressures by security officials have not left the family alone in the years following 2009.  A few weeks after his son's burial, Mr. Karim-Beigi's father was summoned to the Ministry of Information for interrogations.  The family was constantly threatened by the local office of the Ministry of Information in Shahriyar and pressured to change their son's grave stone which bore the words "the tyrannized martyr of Ashura."  Finally in 2010, a few days before Mr. Karim-Beigi's birth anniversary, unidentified individuals broke his grave stone.  Attending the birth anniversary of another victim of Ashura killings in Behesht-e Zahra Cemetery along with the family members of other victims, Mr. Karim-Beigi's mother and sister were arrested and interrogated by security forces.  During her detention and in all future communications, Ms. Akmali was explicitly threatened that if she continued contacting and communicating with mothers of other victims, her daughter's life would also be in danger (Rooz Online, December 14, 2010).

The Family's Remarks

According to Mr. Karim-Beigi's parents, during the 14 days that they were kept uninformed about their son's death, they received suspicious silent calls made from Mostafa's cellular phone every night around 2 AM.  These calls continued until the day they identified their son's body. After lodging their complaint with the police and being referred to the criminal court, Mr. Karim-Beigi's parents were sent to the Shapour police station, where his mother identified her son in the photographs of dead bodies.  Even though she had made the identification, the officials deceived her into believing that she was wrong and that the photographed body she identified as her son had already been identified as someone else.  Finally, on January 11, 2010, the family identified their son's body with a bullet mark on the left side of his forehead and a scar running down from his neck to his abdomen from the autopsy at the Kahrizak forensic department.  According to his mother, the officials, though they orally agreed that Mostafa had been shot, refused to put that in writing on his death certificate and forensic report.

Having sought justice within the legal framework of the Islamic Republic, Mr. Karim-Beigi's family has come to believe that justice was denied to them.  They have published their objections and remarks publically and in the form of interviews and expositions, and have repeatedly pointed out inconsistencies in the officials' remarks and the security pressures imposed on the family.  Ms. Shahnaz Akmali has stated clearly several times that she is not after retaliation and only asks for those who ordered and those who carried out his son's murder to be identified.  In an interview with Rooz Online, she has explained her reasons for not accepting blood money for her son from the authorities:

"It was my son's goal and his path that mattered; would I trade my child's blood for money?  My son's blood money is the freedom of Iran.  My son's blood money is the freedom of political prisoners, and I do not want any other blood money but this.  My son's blood was shed and his life lost because of his goal.  My son's blood money is the comfort of my people.  I am an Iranian and my son was proud to be an Iranian.  His blood money is the freedom of his country and his people; the freedom of the prisoners." (Rooz Online, September 26, 2010)

"I have asked God to keep me alive until the day I see my son's murderers in court.  Many of us families who have lost loved ones are not after retaliation and the continuation of the cycle of violence in Iran.  I do not want to contribute to this violence, but I do ask that the murderers be identified and that my other children who are now sitting in prison will be freed, because this is what our martyrs wanted, they wanted the cycle of violence in Iran to stop, and now we have become their voice." (Jaras, May 22, 2011)

Background

Following the presidential election of June 2009 and the widespread protest against its result, the government tried to prevent demonstrations by labeling them “illegal” and by violently suppressing demonstrators. Despite the intimidating circumstances, protesters poured into the streets on various religious and official anniversaries – Qods Day, Ashura, the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution (February 11) and that of the occupation of the U.S. Embassy (November 14) – rallying and marching to show discontent with the regime.

On the Day of Ashura (December 27, 2009), protests in Tabriz and Tehran turned violent, with at least eight individuals killed. State-run news agencies, such as Fars and Mehr, reported that banks and other public and private property were destroyed and burned. The Tehran Police Department issued a statement on the same date stating, “unfortunately a limited number of conspirators… disrupted public order through their presence in the streets during the religious ceremonies while chanting digressional slogans.” In an interview with Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, an eyewitness who participated in the Ashura demonstration stated, “On the night before, we contacted friends to see who would come for the demonstration the next day. We did not expect killing, due to the honor accorded to this day. Compared to the first days after the election, some people were afraid, having seen the victims and heard about torture in the prisons. People were more careful not to be arrested. At 10 a.m., we went to such streets as Hafez, Taleqani, and Enqelab and stayed there until 1 p.m. Most of the clashes took place on those three streets.

“Police started the violence. At one point, we were walking on Taleqani Street, when a police vehicle came and passed some protesters. We thought that they were going toward Vali’asr Square, but [the vehicle] stopped a hundred meters ahead of us. The police officers got out and began shooting tear gas at people. In the past, the police would wait for people to become a crowd and then shoot at them, but this time, they did not wait, at all. Demonstrators were moving toward Vali’asr Street, but the police began shooting immediately, to prevent the crowd from arriving there.

“However, the people were ready for violence this time. When police began attacking, people first fled but then started to throw stones at the police. The destruction was greater on the Day of Ashura [than on previous days]. Protesters did not damage buildings much, but garbage cans were set on fire in the middle of the streets. A police vehicle was also set on fire, which had happened before. Many people in the streets were religious people who were mourning, beating their chests, and chanting slogans against the government at the same time. Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, my friend’s cousin informed us that a person had been thrown off Hafez Bridge and that shooting had been heard from Vali’asr Square. When the number of protesters gradually diminished in the afternoon, the pro-government forces increased and controlled Hafez Street. Then, about fifty covered women appeared, chanting slogans in support of the government.”

Several video clips posted to YouTube and to other websites showed victims being killed. On one of these clips, a police vehicle was shown running over a protester several times. Names of at least five individuals who were run over by vehicles and died have been reported.

High ranking police officers made confusing statements about the number of casualties on Ashura. They denied that police vehicles ran over protestors. Deputy Chief of Police confirmed, however, that 300 persons were arrested on that day. A Tehran Police Department statement emphasized that “police forces… will harshly counter any infringement of religious dignity and principles, of values of the Islamic Republic’s holy regime, and of beliefs deeply rooted among the Muslim Iranian nation.”

Correct This Entry