Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Karun Hajizadeh (Pur Hajizadeh)


Age: 9
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: September 22, 1998
Location of Killing: Goldasht, Kerman, Kerman Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Stabbing
Age at time of alleged offense: 9

About this Case

was studious and very kind; he used to say “I can’t eat my bananas if I don’t share them with my friends”

Mr. Karun Hajizadeh (Pur Hajizadeh), a primary school student in Kerman who was assassinated along with his father, is one of the victims of a series of political killings that have come to be known as “Chain Murders.”

Information regarding the life, activities, and murder of Karun Hajizadeh has been gathered from a multitude of sources including electronic communication (form) sent to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF) by a person close to him,  Payam e Hajar   weekly (Vol. 302, January 25, 2000),  Ettela’at daily newspaper (Saturday, October 3, 1998), memoirs and statements of his brother in his personal weblog entitled “Karun,” his aunt’s account in the Farkhondeh Hajizadeh Website and in an interview with Roozonline (Sunday, December 11, 2011), United Nations’ Special Representative’s report (January 18, 2000), and the books “Sineye Sohrab” (“Sohrab’s Chest”) and “Me, Mansur, and Albright”, written by Farkhondeh Hajizadeh.

Karun Hajizadeh was born in Kerman in 1989. He was the youngest of three boys in his family. Hi father, Hamid Hajizadeh, was a poet, writer, and literature teacher. According to his brother, Karun was very affectionate. He was particularly attached to his parents but also to his uncle whom he talked to on the phone every morning before leaving for school. He was studious, organized, and goodhearted. For example, if his mother bought a bunch of bananas and gave him one to take to school, he would take a few for his friends, hiding them under his shirts.  “I can’t enjoy eating the banana if I am the only one having it”, he told his mother when caught, “but I do, if I share with them.  (E-form sent to ABF)

Short background on the “Chain Murders”

“Chain Murders” refers to a set of disappearances and extra-judicial killings of writers and political dissidents which mainly occurred in the 1990’s. In January 1999, the Ministry of Intelligence published an announcement in which it squarely put the blame for four such killings (those of Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar, Mohammad Mokhtari, and Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh) on rogue elements within the Ministry, without providing any explanation as to the causes and manner of killing of tens of [other] dissidents and writers.

A number of the Ministry of Intelligence agents were arrested and charged with the above-mentioned four persons’ murders. On June 20, 1999, it was announced that the primary suspect, Sa’id Emami, had committed suicide in prison. According to the victims’ lawyers, numerous pages of Emami’s confession had been deleted from the Chain Murders’ file. Based on independent research and the confessions of [a number of] the accused, however, the elimination of dissidents - the magnitude of which remains unknown -  was the official policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of  Information for over a decade.

Karun and Hamid Hajizadeh’s names were first mentioned as two of the victims of the Chain Murders in February 2000 in Payam e Hajar weekly magazine. Also, in January, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran had called on the Iranian authorities to investigate the murders of more than fifty political dissidents:

 “[t]here were demands that the investigation be broadened to include many other suspicious deaths going back to 1994 … [involving] 50 or more unexplained deaths in recent years. Included were the 1994 deaths of three Christian ministers which had been officially attributed to the Mujahedin, the deaths of Sunni community leaders, and the deaths of dissidents in bombings in Europe  (UN Special Representative Report, E/CN.4/2000/35, January 18, 2000)

The Assassination

On the night of September 22 (or early hours of September 23), 1998, Karun and his father Hamid Hajizadeh were savagely killed in their home located in Goldasht, Kerman. Ettela’at October 3, 1998) According to the Medical Examiner’s official report, Mr. Hajizadeh had been stabbed 10 times and his father, Hamid 27 times. Based on the available information, it appears that Mr. Hamid Hajizadeh was the killers’ target. Karun may have been killed because he was with his father that night or possibly because he could have identified his father’s killers.

Karun may have been killed because he was with his father, Mr. Hamid Hajizadeh, that night or possibly because he could have identified his father’s killers

According to Karun’s aunt, the Medical Examiner [Office’s] representative had determined that there had been three perpetrators and that they had even had tea prior to committing the murders. Karun’s brothers, who were first at the scene of the murder, reported that their father’s writings were dispersed around the bodies. Their mother was sleeping in another room and seemed unconscious. They could not wake her up. She was asleep at the time of the murder and was, according to them, sedated by the killers. (Report of Story 1 “Sohrab’s Chest,” Tehran, Vistar Publishing, 2001) The killers had taken with them the television and tape recorder along with some of his writings. They had also found cash in the house but had left it (electronic communication with ABF).

Officials’ Reaction

The authorities never openly and officially accepted responsibility for this murder. Mr. Hajizadeh’s family questions the thoroughness and trustworthiness of the investigation. The head of the Kerman Detectives Bureau and the investigating judge initially told the family that the murder could not have had personal motives. According to the victim’s aunt, the special investigator in the case had emphasized that such degree of cruelty [was not part of the genetic makeup of and] could not be found in the people of Kerman’s disposition, and that the murderers must have come from Tehran. He had also expressed surprise as to why the passenger manifest for Tehran-Kerman flights for the previous day and the day after [the murders] had not been checked out.

The family was never informed of the result of the Kerman authorities’ investigations. A few days later, both the head of the Detectives Bureau and the investigating judge refused to meet with the family and declare that the case had come to a dead-end. (Interview with Voice of America, September 23, 2013)

Subsequent to the murders of Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar, Mohammad Mokhtari, and Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh, the “Chain Murders” [criminal] case was [officially] opened in December 1998. The efforts of Mr. Hajizadeh’s family to have his murder investigated within the framework of that case, however, bore no fruit, even though they had followed up [and pursued the matter] with the Ministry of Information, the Office of the President, the Office of the Supreme Leader, with Hojjatoleslam Niazi, then-head of the Armed Forces Judicial Organization, and with the Majles (Iranian Parliament) Investigations Committee.

According to Ms. Farkhondeh Hajizadeh, in 1999, the Ministry of Information told the family that Mr. Hajizadeh’s murder had been a “simple mistake” and offered them Dieh (“blood money”) and asked them to declare that they are satisfied  [and are dropping the case.] The family rejected the offer. The family’s attempts to follow-up regarding the investigation have resulted in tremendous government pressure on them, including being summoned, questioned, and prohibited from leaving the country. In 1998, security officials pressured Farkhondeh Hajizadeh, who was on the verge of retirement, to declare in writing that they were not the ones [responsible for and] guilty of Karun and Hamid Hajizadeh’s murders.

According to Farkhondeh Hajizadeh, years after the murders of Mr. Hajizadeh and his father, the authorities still do not allow the family to organize commemorations on the anniversary of their death. (Roozonline, December 11, 2011, and Karun weblog)

The Family’s Statements

Mr. Hajizadeh’s family, who has sought justice within the framework of the Islamic Republic, believes that it has been denied justice. They have called the public’s attention to fundamental contradictions in the officials’ statements, denial of access to evidence, and lack of judicial attention and investigation of the case, in spite of persistent follow ups.

According to the information sent to ABF, Mr. Hamid Hajizadeh had informed some members of his family of the fact that he had been threatened and had moved some of his writings and books to a relative’s house. He had also told his family that he had to disappear for while. A few months prior to Mr. Hajizadeh’s murder, one of his friends, while at the Tehran Book Fair, had told Ms. Hajizadeh of Hamid’s life being in danger. Further, another one of his friends had been told, while undergoing interrogations, that Mr. Hajizadeh had gone to meet with Dariush Foruhar a few weeks prior to being murdered. (Interview with Roozonline, Sunday, December 11, 2011)

The Hajizadeh family has publicly voiced its objections [and concerns] and has also given statements in the form of interviews and through publication of books and articles. They have repeatedly alluded to the contradictions in official accounts as well as to pressure exerted on the family. In an interview with Roozonline, Farkhondeh Hajizadeh has stated:

“After the murders of Hamid and Karun, we were [declared misfits and] “disallowed”, to put it bluntly, [and have constantly been persecuted.] In the economic, social, and cultural contexts, we have had to face a slew of difficulties and dead-end; we are basically prisoners in our own homes. We are prisoners inside ourselves, as though we have been crossed off. Alone and living in fear, we have been relentless in trying to prove that our Hamid was [butchered and] cut into pieces, that our 9-year-old Karun was cut into pieces… It was extremely cruel. We were craving for a little sympathy [from the officials] but [not only was that not forthcoming] they even tried to create divisions within our family. (Rooz Online, December 11, 2011)

On the 15thanniversary of Karun and Hamid Hajizadeh’s murder, Arvand Hajizadeh, wrote in his weblog:

“No, but, I’m afraid to talk to him tonight. I’m afraid he might blame me for not being there 15 years ago to rescue, not him, but his Karun, from those savages, so they wouldn’t be able to butcher him before his eyes, so that we wouldn’t forever be asking which one was murdered first, and then cry and say, what difference does it make? Whoever was first, it was hell for the other. And then talk about his kindness and say since Karun was a kid and understood less, I pray to God that they killed my father first, so that he would not have seen how many times his Karun was stabbed.”

“I’m afraid, afraid of dying. I’m not afraid of death, not at all. I’m afraid of dying and having Karun ask me in the other world, where were you? And I would die again and again and again for not having an answer for him. I wish I could pretend to be an idiot. I might live many years more still, and by the time I die, they will have forgotten everything. Or maybe when I go, they won’t even ask me anything about this stuff and just take me in their arms and tell me they had missed me very much. Yeah, that’s it, I know that’s what they’ll say. So if that’s the case, why am I still alive? What if  they’re missing me over there, and I’m just running around here, writing nonsense about how many years have gone by, blah, blah, blah, and I’m still …”  

“In any event, I’m still alive and I’m still writing. Writing about a father who is no more and about a brother who is long gone. I know I won’t be able to sleep tonight, much like the past 15 years. Or I might fall asleep very late, staying up and counting the seconds, and think about the damned hours: Was it now [that they were butchered]? Or now, or now, or now? And be ashamed for not having been there. Where was I and why was I not there?”  

“I don’t want to go put a bunch of big words together and write about who “Sahar” was, what his path was, and then follow in his footsteps. The responsibility of being Hamid’s son is already on my shoulders; I know what I’m supposed to do, even though I’ve fallen behind on much of it. But right now I don’t want any of this. What I want right now is to be the 13-year-old Arvand, coming home, throwing my backpack away, and first take Karun and tell him, you have to give me today’s 50 kisses right this minute, and kissssss him to my heart’s delight, and when I’m done, see him move away in a corner, wipe his face clean, and tell me: ‘see, I wiped them all away and I’m not giving you another kiss today.’ Then go to my Dad, and throw myself at his side, and have him caress me and kiss me on my forehead and keep reading books and write and write, and I look at his poems and ask him: ’Dad, recite to me this poem that you have written,’ and have him read it to me.”  

“Then night would fall, just like tonight, and there would no longer be the nightmare of “was it now, or now, or now;” my father would be home, we would have dinner, burn the TV by playing too many video games, until we fall asleep and have pleasant dreams, again and again and again, and wake up in the morning and go to school. That’s what I want. Not re-writing this ode written by my father and keep repeating this verse to myself:  

“An ancient albeit new sadness is assaulting me tonight

Karun River’s eternal tears are within me tonight.”  

“And then say, “Daddy, Brother, rest in peace.” That’s not what I want, but, well, there is no other choice …”

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