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

Hamid Hajizadeh (Pur Hajizadeh)

About

Age: 48
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Execution: September 22, 1998
Location: Kerman, Kerman Province, Iran
Mode of Execution: Stabbing (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 to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.

  • 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 of 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 freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade union for the protection of one’s interests.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

The right to due process

Pre-trial detention rights

  • The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.

    UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a

  • 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.

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

was a promising literary talent in his youth, but after the cultural revolution he shunned literary salons and isolated himself, yet he continued to write poetry and…

Mr. Hamid Hajizadeh (Pur Hajizadeh), a writer, teacher, and poet with the nom de plume “Sahar”, and his young son, Karun, are two 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 son in his personal weblog entitled “Karun,” his sister’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.

Biography

Born in the village of Bazanjan in Kerman Province, Mr. Hamid Hajizadeh was married and had three children. He obtained an associate degree in literature from Daneshsaraye Rahnamaiye Kerman (“Kerman Guidance School”) and continued his education after the revolution at Shahid Beheshti University, studying law. Prior to the Cultural Revolution, he was suspended for one semester because of his political activities. After the Cultural Revolution and the reopening of universities, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in literature from Kerman’s Shahid Bahonar University. He subsequently began teaching in Kerman’s education system. (Farkhondeh Hajizadeh’s website)

According to a person close to him, Mr. Hajizadeh was a supporter and member of the National Front during his teenage and youth years. From 1977 through 1979, he was active in the city of Kerman’s revolutionary struggles. After the [1979] Revolution, he abandoned politics, although he remained a supporter of the National Front. ( Payame Hajar, January 25, 2000) 

Professional Life

Mr. Hajizadeh began his literary activities when he was still an adolescent, and obtained numerous prizes in literary contests. As a young man, he established the Literary Society of the Palace of the Young in the city of Shiraz. According to his sister (a writer and member of the Iran Writers Association,) he was a known literary figure in the 1970’s before the revolution. For years, his voice could be heard on [a radio program in Kerman called] “Kerman Radio Book of Poems”. ( Ettela’at  newspaper, October 3, 1998, Roozonline, December 11, 2011) After the [1979] Revolution, he gradually became a recluse and no longer attended any literary gatherings. He was suspended from teaching for a while and when he began teaching again, he was exiled to [teach in] Kahnuj, one of Kerman Province’s towns known for its harsh climate.

According to the available information, Mr. Hajizadeh had lost his incentive to publish his works and spent the last years of his life in solitude and silence. Occasionally only, he would read his works to his friends and students. However, one month prior to his murder, he prepared a number of his poems for publication. Some of these poems were posthumously published in a book of poems entitled “Karun dar man ast” (“Karun is within me.”) Mr. Hajizadeh has left an extensive body of research and literary works behind, including the three-volume “History of Opiates, and Luminaries Addicted to Opium,” “Dictionary of Bazanjan and Lak Folklore,” “Gypsies Don’t Fall in Love,” “The Lost Song,” “Father, Without You into the End of Night,” just to name a few. (“Karun” weblog)

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 is still not clear -  was the official policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Ministry of Information for over a decade.

Mr. Hajizadeh and his son’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, Mr. Hajizadeh and his 9-year-old son Karun, were savagely killed in their home located in Goldasht, Kerman, having suffered multiple stab wounds. ( Ettela’at  October 3, 1998) According to the Medical Examiner’s official report, Mr. Hajizadeh had been stabbed 27 times and his son, 10 times. According to Mr. Hajizadeh’s brother’s written report of this event, there were signs of hard blows to Mr. Hajizadeh’s head and face, tearing of the heart, lungs, and the digestive system, as well as the cutting of the fingers of his right hand. (Mohammad Hajizadeh, “Karun Is Within Me Tonight”)

Mr. Hajizadeh and his 9-year-old son Karun, were savagely killed in their home located in Goldasht, Kerman, having suffered multiple stab wounds.

According to Mr. Hajizadeh’s sister, 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. Mr. Hajizadeh’s children, 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 sister, 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. 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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