Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Ramin Purandarjani


Age: 26
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: November 10, 2009
Location of Killing: Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial Execution
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

was a gifted child and an honor student at the Medical School of Tabriz University

The news of Mr. Ramin Pourandarjani’s death was covered by many media outlets, including Khabar Online and BBC Persian (November 16, 2009). Additional information about the case has been obtained from interviews and research conducted by Boroumand Foundation, the newspapers Hamshahri (November 18, 2009) and Kayhan (December 2, 2009), the websites of Rooz Online (May 23, 2010), Radio Farda (March 5, 2013), and Amnesty International (November 18, 2009), and several *other sources.

Mr. Ramin Pourandarjani was born on 9 June 1983 to a middle class family in a northwestern district of the city of Tabriz.  He was a physician and military conscript. His father, Reza, worked in the Tabriz Historical Bazaar. His mother, Rouhangiz, was a retired teacher, and his brother an engineering student. Mr. Pourandarjani was an intellectually gifted person. He was fluent in English and French, as well as Persian and Turkish, and loved poetry and literature. When he was eleven years old, he was admitted to a school for gifted students in Tabriz. At the age of thirteen, he won a national youth poetry competition, and, at fifteen, he placed first in the Kharazmi Scientific Festival. In 2001 he began his medical studies at the University of Ardabil having ranked 1,069 among hundreds of thousands of Iranian students who took the national entrance exam that year. He subsequently transferred to the medical school at the University of Tabriz, and graduated top of his class with distinction in 2008. He intended to continue his education in Germany and had asked his mother to find him a suitable girl to marry.

Mr. Pourandarjani loved his chosen vocation. In his graduation speech, he said to his fellow students: “We are heirs to great names; luminaries such as Galen, Hippocrates, Avicenna and the wise Al-Juzjani. We have been left to carry the legacy of an incredibly remarkable holy spirit from those eras, transmitted to us in the form of a white gown. We are here to say that we will continue this path with passion.”

He began his compulsory two-year military service in 2008. In April 2009, he was deployed for a month on the Sistan-Baluchestan border region, before being dispatched to serve as a conscript physician at FATEB (the Persian acronym for Greater Tehran Law-Enforcement Force Command), which involved examining prisoners at Kahrizak detention center once a week.

Based on available information, during the unrest that followed the June 2009 elections, Mr. Pourandarjani was summoned to Kahrizak detention center four times in the course of three weeks to treat detainees.

The death of Mr. Pourandarjani caught the attention of human rights organizations. Amnesty International called on the Iranian authorities to investigate his suspicious death.

Kahrizak Detention Center

Kahrizak detention center or Kahrizak Camp was established in 2001, during Mohammad Baqer Ghalibaf’s term as police chief, in the wake of cleanup operations against drug traffickers in east Tehran’s Khak-e Sefid District, to accommodate detainees. Until 2009, the Camp was used to detain “thugs and louts” arrested under the Public Security Plan with the intention of terrorizing them. There is not much information about how those detainees were treated. Based on the testimony of several detainees from that period, the then Police Chief of Greater Tehran Brigadier-General Ahmad Reza Radan told the detainees during a visit to the Kahrizak Camp: “You will be tortured and kept without food and water to such an extent that you will become as thin as mice able to walk through cell bars of the detention center. And only then, that is if you are still alive, will you be taken to court and transferred to another prison.”

In the wake of the June 2009 protests (see footnotes) and following the death of three of the protestors in Kahrizak detention center, including the son of one of the Islamic Republic’s senior officials, the Justice Department of Tehran Province’s Supervision and Inspection Board for Citizens’ Rights published a report on the issue. Following the closure of Kahrizak detention center on the orders of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the First Deputy Chief Justice instructed the opening of a case at Tehran’s Military Prosecutor’s Office in connection with offences committed by Kahrizak authorities and guards, which was subsequently referred to Branch 1 of the Interrogation Department.

Based on the details of the indictment of the Tehran Military Prosecutor against the Kahrizak case defendants, “Kahrizak detention center, built for the purpose of detaining thugs and louts, was located 15 kilometers outside south Tehran’s Kahrizak District. It was administered exclusively by the Greater Tehran Law-Enforcement Force Command, and the State Prisons Organization had no supervisory role over the aforementioned detention center… Said facility contained six wards and two quarantine units. The area of the quarantine unit, where the detainees of July 9, 2009 were kept, was approximately 65 square meters, with no light and no proper ventilation system.  

Upon admission to Kahrizak prison, the guards in charged ordered the detainees to strip naked in front of others, some of whom – based on their statements – were kept naked for 45 minutes, at which time their underwear was taken and disposed of, and their clothes were put back on them inside out. The authorities explained this action as a measure to avoid infestation of insects, such as lice.

All the July 9 detainees (123 individuals) were kept in a quarantine unit with an area of 65 square meters. The prison authorities then proceeded to add another 37 inmates classified as thugs and louts who were already serving sentences at Kahrizak.

Given that it was the summer season, the air inside the quarantine was extremely hot and suffocating. Others arrested during the unrest at the time were also divided into four groups, and each group was held in cages that were specially designed for keeping prisoners classified as thugs and louts, within a very small space. Inside the quarantine, there was no space to even sit down, and most of the detainees had to spend the entire night standing. The quarantine had access to only two toilet facilities, one of which was out of order, and the other without a door. The detainees had to wait a long time to use the toilet and had to walk in and out barefoot. Furthermore, said detention center did not have a shower room, hence the detainees had no opportunity to wash themselves. The quarantine had only one water faucet, the water from which was not sanitary. Gasoline fumes produced by the generators leaked inside the quarantine causing further air pollution inside the limited 65 square meter space.

On numerous occasions, both during the admission process and while in detention, the chief guard and the warden verbally insulted and violently assaulted the detainees with PVC pipes. Assault and battery of the detainees had turned into routine conduct, and owing to the incidents prior to the elections at said detention center and the failure of the relevant authorities to hold the guards responsible, they had become even more brazen” (Indictment against the Kahrizak case defendants available at Boroumand Foundation, December 16, 2009

Based on the indictment, following the death of three of the detainees in Kahrizak, said detention center’s authorities sought to cover up the cause of their deaths by putting pressure on the duty physician to register the victims’ deaths as meningitis. But Mr. Pourandarjani declined the request, and was subsequently called upon as a witness in the case.

Based on the indictment in the case of the Kahrizak defendants, issued on December 16, 2009, they “assaulted the detainees, including the three deceased, on the pretext of disorderly behavior.” According to the indictment, “Colonel Kamijani (Head of Kahrizak Camp), who was aware of the assaults and injuries inflicted upon the detainees by the officers, following the death of one of the detainees named Amir Javadifar, approached the head of the FATEB Medical Clinic, Dr. Farahmandpour, in order to shirk responsibility and fabricate the cause of death as meningitis, and asked him to confirm Javadifar’s cause of death as meningitis, and the place of death in Kahrizak. To that end, Colonel Kamijani went so far as to prepare a written text and asked Dr. Farahmandpour to sign it. But [Farahmandpour] declined to do so. Subsequently, Colonel Toumari, who was the administrator at Lieutenant-General Rajabzadeh’s office, contacted Dr. Farahmandpour by phone and asked him to sign the report, which he again declined. Colonel Kamijani then approached Dr. Pourandarjani, the duty physician at Kahrizak infirmary, and asked him to sign the report. Dr. Pourandarjani also declined the prison chief’s request.

In the course of investigations into the killings and torture at the Kahrizak detention center, Dr. Pourandarjani appeared before the Special Majles Committee that was carrying out the investigations, and said in his testimony: “They brought Mohsen Rohulamini to me two days before his death after he had been subjected to intense physical torture and was in a dreadful condition. His physical condition was very critical. Despite my very limited medical facilities, I did my best to save him. It was then that I received threats from Kahrizak authorities who warned me that if I said anything about the cause of the Kahrizak victims’ injuries, they would put an end to my life” (Rooz Online, June 10, 2010).

Subsequently, in the fall of 2009, Mr. Pourandarjani was arrested and interrogated on charges of “failure to perform medical duties.” After some time, he was released on bail.

Unofficial reports linked his summons to the information he had given concerning the appalling conditions at Kahrizak detention center.

Mr. Pourandarjani died in suspicious circumstances on November 10, 2009.

Death of Mr. Pourandarjani

Lieutenant Nourian, a police offer at Tehran’s 129 Police Station, was the first officer on the scene after the body of Mr. Pourandarjani was found in the FATEB Clinic’s Psychology Room on Tehran’s Moniri Javid Street on November 10, 2009. Nourian said in his report: “… I noticed that the door of the Psychology Room was open and a number of doctors, staff, and personnel had gathered at the end of the room, upon which I immediately took action to evacuate and preserve the [crime] scene… The deceased was identified as a duty physician, 26-year-old Ramin Pourandarjani from Tabriz, who was serving his military service as a general practitioner at FATEB Clinic. Since his residence was outside Tehran, he slept in the Psychology Room at night. The deceased was lying flat on the bed with vomit out of his mouth. He was in a supine position with his right leg curled up. There were no signs of destruction and disturbance. Signs of bruising and blood spots were visible in the [victim’s] neck area. Furthermore, on the dining table there was a half-eaten meal, one salad, a one-and-a-half liter soft drink, a bill from Golden Chicken Restaurant, medical supplies, a stethoscope, and some gloves…” The report also mentions the police victim identification center, the Criminal Investigation Department of the Law Enforcement Force, and the judge on duty (Rooz Online, June 10, 2010).

Jahan News website announced Mr. Pourandarjani’s death as “suicide” and wrote that he was arrested and interrogated and then temporarily released on bail. Citing an informed source, the website wrote: “This person had been trying to meet with some Majles deputies in the past few days, but the meeting never took place”  (Khabar Online, November 16, 2009).

According to available information, the body of Mr. Ramin Pourandarjani was buried in his hometown of Tabriz on November 18, 2009. The authorities refused his parents’ request for an autopsy to discover the cause of their son’s death. They were not even permitted to see the body of their son. The report said that the coroner had declared his death a “heart attack” (Khabar Online, November 18, 2009).

There are discrepancies in the statements given by the authorities regarding the cause of death, as cited by domestic media.

Authorities’ Reaction

Following Mr. Pourandarjani’s death, the authorities telephoned his father in Tabriz, telling him that his son had been in a car crash. They told him that Ramin’s leg was broken and that he was unconscious. When his father arrived in Tehran, they took him to the mortuary and told him that his son had died of a heart attack (Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2009).

Based on available information, law enforcement officials took Mr. Pourandarjani’s body to Tabriz and buried him immediately. They did not even allow his family to bury him in accordance with their customs (Rooz Online, June 10, 2010).

Brigadier-General Ahmadi-Moghaddam, then Police commander, announced on November 18, 2009 that a will had been found next to Mr. Pourandarjani’s body, with strong indications of possible suicide. He said that the deceased duty physician had been summoned as a defendant and was released on bail and that his body had been found in the communal resting area at the prosecutor’s office, with his will next to it, in which he had also claimed to have received threats and to have been told that he would be imprisoned for five years (Hamshahri Daily, November 18, 2009).

On December 1, 2009, 21 days after Mr. Pourandarjani’s death, the head of the NAJA [Iranian acronym for the Law Enforcement Force] Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs reaffirmed during a joint session with the Domestic Policy Committee of the Majles that Mr. Pourandarjani’s cause of death was definitely suicide (Khabar Online, December 1, 2009).

On the same day, Tehran’s Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor, citing the opinion of the forensic pathologist, pronounced the cause of death as poisoned food. He added that the propranolol pills found next to the salad on the physician’s desk confirmed the forensic pathologist’s opinion. The Tehran Public and Revolutionary Prosecutor declared that investigations were underway to establish whether the cause of Mr. Pourandarjani’s death was murder or suicide (Kayhan, December 2, 2009).

Several Majles deputies questioned the aforementioned statements. Dr. Masoud Pezeshkian said: “Dr. Pourandarjani was a healthy and intelligent physician, and his death cannot be ascribed to suicide. He had not suffered a heart attack either. An investigation must be carried out into the cause of his death” (Jahan News, December 14, 2009). Pezeshkian added: “Suicide by someone who had no problems or illnesses, and was present at a detention center such as Kahrizak, is questionable to us” (Amin website, November 25, 2009).

Highlighting the forensic pathologist’s verbal response to Shahaboddin Sadr, then head of the Majles Health Committee, Dr. Pezeshkian said that he had been told in his capacity as the former head of the State Legal Medicine Organization that the cause of death was drug poisoning (Inderal): “We have requested that a written report, to include the findings of the autopsy and toxicology, be submitted to the Majles. Meanwhile, the Law-Enforcement Force has also promised to follow up this case” (Bahar News, March 19, 2013).

Dr. Shahrokh Ramin, spokesman for the Majles Heath, Treatment and Medical Training Committee, quoted the commander of the NAJA medical clinic, who was also supervising Mr. Pourandarjani, as saying that Pourandarjani was in a particular state of mind and often preferred to be alone in the resting area. He said that despite being an intelligent and capable individual, it appears that Pourandarjani was under psychological pressure.

Noting that Mr. Pourandarjani’s body was sent to Pathology, Bacteriology and Toxicology for biopsy and samples, the Majles Health Committee spokesman described the forensic pathology report as complete and perfect. He said: “According to the report, the skull, skin, lung, intestine, stomach contents… were all totally healthy and no traces of poison were found” (Jahan News, December 12, 2009).

Family and Friends

Mr. Pourandarjani’s family questioned the causes of death announced by the authorities and lodged a complaint with the Judiciary, requesting that the murderers of their son be identified and put on trial. Moreover, his friends said that before his death he had told them that he feared his life was in danger.

Mr. Pourandarjani’s mother said: “I sent my beautiful, healthy young son off to military service and his dead body was given back to me. Whoever claims that he committed suicide is lying and should fear God” (Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2009). His father said: “We delivered a healthy and sound Ramin for military service. They telephoned telling us to come and collect his body. What else could I do? They said that he had been in a car accident, and on the pretext of the car accident they asked us to go to Tehran… The night before [his death], Ramin and I had spoken on the phone for some seven or eight minutes, at around 8:30 PM. He was well; very well. I wish I had stayed on the phone and talked to him until the next morning. Alas, we could not even see Ramin’s face after his death. Ramin and Kahrizak were poles apart! He was a soldier and they had dispatched him to Kahrizak as a duty physician. Ramin could not even take a step without their permission. After all the events that took place at Kahrizak, they described Ramin as the Kahrizak physician.  Ramin and such labels just do not go together! God only knows that Ramin had a heart of gold” (Radio Farda, March 5, 2013). He added: “First they said that he had committed suicide and even spoke of a will. Then they said it was a heart attack. Later they said it was drug poisoning. But we do not believe even a fraction of these allegations… I gave them my healthy, vibrant, hopeful son. He went to serve his homeland, but they did not even let us see his corpse.”

Noting that he could not say much as he had another child who was also a student, Mr. Pourandarjani’s father said: “My son studied hard for 19 years but did not even get to see his [degree] certificate; yet, last week, I received his medical [death] certificate” (Rooz Online, June 10, 2010).

Based on available information, Mr. Pourandarjani contacted his parents on the eve of his death telling them that he intended to visit the family in Tabriz. He had also chatted with his friends via email that very afternoon (Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2009).

One of Mr. Pourandarjani’s friends said that his family was not even permitted to see his body before burial. He added: “The [Muslim] ritual of bathing and shrouding of Ramin’s body was performed in Tehran in the absence of his family. The authorities rejected a request by Ramin’s family to change his shroud in Tabriz. They did not even allow Ramin’s family to see his lifeless body… This shows that there were secret reasons as to why they did not want the family to see Ramin’s body.” Said individual, who was close to Mr. Pourandarjani, reiterated that the existence of any will by Mr. Pourandarjani, as alleged by Brigadier-General Ahmadi Moghaddam, was denied by the criminal investigator in charge of the case. Moreover, contrary to Ahmadi-Moghaddam’s allegation, Ramin was murdered in his office in the NAJA medical clinic, and not in the communal resting area (Rooz Online, June 10, 2010).

One of the plaintiffs in the Kahrizak case said: “I saw Ramin in the Military Prosecutor’s Office. He had come with his father to Branch 1 of the Interrogation Department, to Mr. Hoseyni’s office. [Ramin] said that he had documents in Kahrizak detention center that showed he had sent the patients to the hospital and had even prescribed more medicine for them, since it took a long time for medicine to reach the detainees from the Greater Tehran’s Law-Enforcement Force Command [facility] to Kahrizak. Ramin was reiterating that they would not allow him to go to Kahrizak to fetch said documents to prove his innocence… The detainees were tortured inside Kahrizak and their wounds had become infected. Our eyes had been infected owing to the gasoline fumes. Ramin Pourandarjani had examined Amir Javadifar at Kahrizak because he had lost his eyesight. Ramin Pourandarjani recalled in court that when they brought Amir to him all he could do was to console him and that, knowing that Amir was in a bad way, he had sent him to the hospital… Ramin also found the conditions in Kahrizak very distressing and was constantly distraught. In his conversations with me, he used to say that he was also suffering from the conditions in Kahrizak. He said that whenever Mr. [Police chief] Radan and his team came to Kahrizak, they would not even allow him to take the detainees’ pulses. Ramin was not feeling safe at that time. He told me that Mr. Kamijani (then head of Kahrizak detention center) and Mr. Nezamdoust, who was the office manager of Lieutenant-General Rajabzadeh (then commander of Tehran Law-Enforcement Force) had threatened him on several occasions, warning him that he would be dealt with if he mentioned names of any of the authorities who came to Kahrizak to administer torture. Ramin had many documents. He had told me about white sacks in Kahrizak in which they put the detainees, even if they were still alive” (Radio Farda, March 5, 2013).

The former Kahrizak prisoner said, “Mr. Mortazavi had a very harsh encounter with Ramin Pourandarjani. Ramin had gone to Mr. Mortazavi’s office, but had refused to sign a certificate which said that the Kahrizak detainees were suffering from meningitis. All this was said in court. Ramin knew the identity of individuals who tortured detainees in Kahrizak and would have been able to tell Mr. Dehqan, who was at the time heading a Majles committee tasked with investigating the incidents that took place in the wake of the [June 2009] elections. Ramin was scheduled to meet with members of said committee, and at that meeting the names of Mr. Radan, a few Majles deputies, and those who had tortured the Kahrizak detainees would have been mentioned. Ramin had even mentioned that whenever Mr. Radan’s team came to Kahrizak, they would send everyone, even Mr. Kamijani, out of the detention center. In any case, Ramin had many documents concerning Kahrizak, even on the role of the NAJA commanders, which would have been burdensome for the Law-Enforcement Force. Hence, they disposed of Ramin” (Radio Farda, March 5, 2013).

Two years after the death of his son, Mr. Pourandarjani’s father said: “I did not succeed in bringing the case to a close. I abandoned the case and I failed to find someone who would hear my pain. We lost our beloved son. We feel dejected and heartbroken. Ramin was the world to us. He was the ideal human being, and I am not saying that out of bias…” (Radio Farda, March 5, 2013).  


*Other sources: Newspapers Hamshahri (November 18, 2009), Keyhan (December 2, 2009), and Donya-e Eqtesaad (November 18, 2009); Websites Jahan News (December 25, 2009 and July 12, 2015), Khabar Online (November 10 and December 1 and 14, 2009), Amin (November 25, 2009), Wall Street Journal (November 19, 2009), Bahar News (March 19, 2013), and ILNA News Service (July 9, 2017).   

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