Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Asghar Rahimi


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


Date of Killing: December 27, 2012
Location of Killing: Qezelhesar Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God

About this Case

Asghar Rahimi was a Sunni Kurd of the Safe’i religious and memorized 25 section of the Qur’an. His wish was to play one more time with his children.

News of the execution of Mr. Asghar Rahimi was published in the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) and Roozonline website on December 30, 2012. Additional information about this case was drawn from research carried out by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation (ABF), with interviews from ABF with several persons close to Mr. Rahimi and his cellmates; a published letter by his cellmates (HRANA April 25, 2014); a letter by Sunni clergies to authorities (Jaras on September 18, 2013, and Roozonline on September 23, 2013), and several other resources, including the Centre for Supporters of Human Rights on May 4, 2014; the website and Facebook page of the International Campaign to Support Sunni Prisoners; Al Arabiya on September 19, 2013; Sunni News; and YouTube.

Mr. Asghar Rahimi, 26, was married with two young children. He was a Sunni Kurd and lived in Sanandaj. He had a technical diploma in high school and worked at his shop in the Industrial City of Sanandaj. He had lost his father at the age of four.

According to his cellmates, Mr. Rahimi was a religious person, though not an affiliate of any group or organization. He was a follower of theShafeiShafe’ireligion and memorized 25 sections of the Qur’an. According to a person close to him, his main activities took place at the Masjeolnabi [Mosque] in Sanandaj. In addition to teaching Qur’an at the Mosque, he taught ideological courses about avoiding state control and intervention at his house. He and other Sunni prisoners who were condemned to death, performed their religious activities in their mosques and quarters. Among these activities were to distribute pamphlets and CD’s regarding Shi’a authorities insults of Sunni beliefs. They promoted Shafe’i beliefs among Sunnis and tried to avoid taking advantage of the religion. (Centre for Supporters of Human Rights on May 04, 2014)

In addition to Mr. Asghar Rahimi, four other members of his family were also arrested for similar charges, including his older brother, Mohammad-Yavar, and three of his cousins. His other cousin was shot to death during an arrest attempt. According to his cellmates, Mr. Rahimi had no regular opportunity to visit his family and children, due to the long distance between Sanandaj and Raja’ishahr Prison in Karaj. He was suffering from being so far away from his children. He learned knitting at the prison and knitted clothes for his daughter. His wish was to play one more time with his children and spend a whole night with them. (ABF research)

Human rights organizations have protested the death sentences against these Sunni activists and due process violations in their cases. Nineteen human rights organizations issued statements objecting to these sentences and demanding their annulment. (June 20, 2014) Sunni religious leaders, such as Molavi Abdolhamid, Friday Emam of Zahedan, and Hassan Amini, Director of the Emam Bokhara religious school in Sanandaj, issued open letters to the Supreme Leader and heads of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling for the annulment of the death penalty for Sunni prisoners. (Al Arabiya, September 19, 2013)

Arrest and detention

Mr. Asghar Rahimi was arrested by agents of the Information Ministry, along with another defendant in this case, Shahram Ahmadi, while leaving the Masjeolnabi [Mosque] in Sanandaj on April 26, 2009. The arrest of these defendants was injured with shooting that resulted in the injury of Mr. Ahmadi. A year after the arrest, Mr. Rahimi’s brother, Mohammad-Yavar, was also arrested for similar charges.

Mr. Rahimi spent 24 months in solitary confinement at the Information Ministry detention centers in Sanandaj, Hamedan, and Tehran. He was frequently tortured physically and psychologically during his detention period. According to his cellmates, his interrogators used electric shocks, applied lashing, and threat in order to get him to confess to having links to extremist groups whose goal was to overthrow the regime. (ABF research) 

Mr. Rahimi had no access to an attorney, nor any visitation with his family during his interrogation. Except for a few times, they did not allow him to call his family either. In February of 2012, he and other Sunni prisoners were transferred to Raja’ishahr Prison and later to Qezelhesar Prison on November 13, 2012


Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran tried Mr. Asghar Rahimi and nine other co-defendants in a closed session on February 12, 2011. Based on the testimony of four defendants, they were not allowed to choose their defense attorneys. Each met the attorney assigned to him less than half an hour before the trial was to sign his engagement letter. The defendants were taken to court and tried while handcuffed, shackled, and blindfolded. The session lasted only 10 minutes. (A letter sent by four cellmates of Mr. Rahimi to the international community and the website of Sunni Prisoners) According to several defendants, the judge did not question defendants and had a vulgar and insulting behavior toward them. (A defendant’s will - ABF research))


Based on the testimony of four defendants, Mr. Rahimi and his co-defendants were accused of “waging war against God,” through “links to Salafi mini-groups” and “propaganda against the regime, through participating in ideological and political classes and possessing, selling, and buying books and CDs of speeches related to Sunni beliefs.” (Letter to Ban Ki-moon, September 2012 - ABF research) 

The validity of the criminal charges brought against the defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.

Evidence of guilt

No information is available regarding the evidence provided against Mr. Rahimi. However, according to the testimony of the defendants, the confessions coerced during interrogations were used as evidence against them. In addition, according to the existing reports, the interrogators saw the promotion of his religious beliefs as an effort to overthrow the regime. Mr. Rahimi and the representative of the Sunni prisoners had confirmed that they were tortured and coerced into making false confessions. 

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress. In the case of political detainees, these confessions are, at times, broadcast. State television broadcasts confessions, during which prisoners plead guilty to vague and false charges, repent and renounce their political beliefs, and/or implicate others. Human rights organizations have also pointed to the pattern of retracted confessions by those prisoners who are freed.


The security agents and judicial authorities did not allow Mr. Rahimi to visit his families or choose and visit his legal counsel until his trial. According to testimonies of several other defendants, the trial took place without compliance with legal standards. The court did not allow the defendants an opportunity to defend themselves or even speak. They note that the only reason for accepting the charges on their trial day was the false promises of their court-assigned lawyer of transfer to Sanandaj and leniency. They note that, at the time, following months of interrogations and solitary confinement, they were mentally disoriented and weak and gave in with the hope of seeing their family and benefiting from the court’s leniency. (ABF research)

Mr. Rahimi and his co-defendant consider themselves as followers of the Shafe’i religion. They deny the charge of being linked to Salafi groups or any other extremist group. In his video will, recorded in prison, Mr. Bahram Ahmadi, another defendant of this case, rejects all the charges against him and the co-defendants and states: “All the charges that the government claimed through its media are lies and we deny them. If our Sunni brothers or we said anything it was due to pressure and torture.” He points to the disrespectful and insulting behavior of the judge during the trial and stated that the judge did not even allow the defendants to speak.

In his own defense, Mr. Ahmadi explained that his other defendants became active in promoting their religious beliefs “after two clerics, Bijan Daneshmand and Juybari, gravely insulted the mother of believers [Ayesheh] ... and other companions of the prophet and insulted Sunni beliefs and sanctities … . Because we defended these sanctities, we have been in prison for the past four years and [the authorities] have convicted us, instead of putting those clerics on trial for their insults.” (Video will of Mr. Ahmadi)


Branch 28 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court of Tehran condemned Mr. Asghar Rahimi and nine other co-defendants to death on the day of their trial on February 12, 2011. The ruling was confirmed by the Supreme Court. Mr. Rahimi was executed secretly, along with five co-defendants, in violation of the protocol in place for executions in Qezelhesar Prison on December 28, 2012. According to his cellmates, the prison authorities did not allow Mr. Rahimi to visit or contact his family for the last time. The family heard about his execution from Sanandaj’s parliamentary representative. The judicial and security authorities did not give the body to Mr. Rahimi’s family and buried him at the section for those executed in the Behesht-e Sakineh cemetery in Karaj. They did not inform the family of the exact location of his grave. 


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