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

Shahriar Shafiq


Age: 34
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Execution: December 7, 1979
Location: Paris, France
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, the following human rights 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 subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.

UDHR, Article 12, ICCPR, Article 17.1.

    • 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 his or her 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 peaceful assembly.

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 21.

    • The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of his or her interests.

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

    • The right, as a member of a religious or ethnic minority, to enjoy his or her own culture or to profess and practice his or her own religion.

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 27.

The right to due process

    • The right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with law.

ICCPR, Article 14.1 and Article 14.2.

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 the right to legal aid. The right to communicate with one’s own attorney in confidence

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

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

ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.

    • The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.

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

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 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

    • The right to defense through an attorney or legal aid. The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one, and the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and 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

Second son of the Shah’s twin, Mr. Shafiq served as a respected captain of the Imperial Navy, as well as head of Iran’s Karate and Judo Federation.  Last of the Pahlavis to leave Iran. 

Information on the assassination of Captain Shahriar Shafiq was drawn from the Memoirs of Ayatollah Khalkhali, the first religious judge appointed by Ayatollah Khomeini to preside over the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal. Further information was taken from the Kayhan newspaper dated 8 December 1979; a face book page assigned to Mr. Shafiq; the official website of Princess Ashraf Pahlavi; and the Qoqnus website. Mr. Shahriar Shafiq was a highly-ranked officer of the Imperial Iranian Navy.  He had fled Iran for Paris a week after the victory of the Islamic Revolution and nine months before his extra-judicial execution.

Mr. Shafiq was born in Cairo on 15 March 1945. He was the second child of Princess Ashraf Pahlavi, twin sister of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi. His father, Ahmad Shafiq, was a son of the former minister of Egypt’s royal court and director of commercial aviation companies in Egypt. Shahriar Shafiq studied at Razi High School and continued his studies in the Britannia Royal Naval School (BRNS) at Dartmouth, in England. While studying at the Naval College, he was presented the Sword of Honor. He started his carrier at the Imperial Navy as a Lieutenant Commander of the Bayandor Destroyer in Khoramshahr. He was appointed as the Commander of the Imperial Iranian Navy’s destroyer fleet in 1975. In March 1978, he was also appointed as the head of the Judo and Karate Federation. He was married to Maryam Eqbal (daughter of Prime Minister Manuchehr Eqbal) and had two sons named Nader and Dara.

According to his mother, Mr. Shafiq was “a person of character, integrity and principle. He was generous, selfless and unswervingly patriotic. He was a soldier, willing to sacrifice greatly for his country and people. He would lay down his life for his motherland. (Princess Ashraf Pahlavi’s website)

Arrest and detention

Mr. Shafiq was never arrested.


Ayatollah Khalkhali emphasizes in his memoir that Mr. Shafiq was tried in absentia. There is no official evidence, however, that his case was examined in a public trial.


In a statement published in Kayhan on 08 December 1979, Ayatollah Khalkhali accused Mr. Shafiq of “intending to repeat the 1953 Iranian coup d'état, in order to break up the country into several provinces and to brutally kill millions of people.”  The name of Mr. Shahriar Shafiq was later mentioned in his memoirs, in a list of people executed by order of Mr. Khalkhali. According to Mr. Khalkhali, these people were all charged with "corruption on earth," which he defined in the following terms:  "A Corruptor on Earth is a person who contributes to spreading and expanding corruption on earth. Corruption is what leads to the decline, destruction, and deviation of society from its nature. People who were executed had strived in spreading corruption and prostitution; circulating heroin, opium, and licentious behavior; atheism; murder; betrayal; flattery; and, in sum, all these vile qualities. These people’s problems were aggravated by the fact that they did not repent, once they saw the people’s revolution."  

Evidence of guilt

Ayatollah Khalkhali does not provide any evidence against Mr. Shafiq, neither in his memoir nor in his statement published in Kayhan


Mr. Shafiq was denied the right to defend himself. He was not aware of being prosecuted by Iran's judicial authorities.


While leaving his mother’s house in Paris at 1:00 in the afternoon of Friday, 07 December 1979, Mr. Shafiq was shot and killed by two bullets into the back of his neck and head. The day after, Kayhan quoted the Agence France-Presse and wrote: “An eyewitness described the assassin as a young man between 25- and 30-years-old, who was wearing a biker’s jacket. He followed Mr. Shafiq for several steps, took the pistol close to the back of his neck, and shot him. He then got on his motor bike and left. The police found two shells from a 9mm pistol at the scene.” 

Kayhan, quoting Agence France-Presse, says that, several hours later, an unknown person took responsibility for the terror via a telephone call and said, “Shafiq had to be removed (or killed), keeping in line with our liberation activities. He was an enemy of our faith and our people.” He also added that, “He helped the international Zionists and we killed him. He concluded his talk with, “Long Live Khomeini!”

Kayhan published a statement by Ayatollah Khalkhali in the same report, as a leader of Fada’yan-e Eslam. Ayatollah Khalkhali announces in this statement that “Fada’yan-e Eslam’s warriors” executed Mr. Shafiq.

Three years after Mr. Shafiq’s death on 29 March 1982, the Ettela’at newspaper wrote on page 11, “Martyr Seyed Abdollah Borghe’i, one of the passionate young Hezbollahi people of Qom, who made tireless efforts to combat counter-revolutionary groups and to remove the "Liberals" from the political scene.  He was the one who executed Shahriar Shafiq, nephew of the Shah, in Paris, shot him twice and left without leaving a clue of his presence.”

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