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

Saru Qahremani


Age: 24
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Single


Date of Execution: January 13, 2018
Location: Sanandaj, Kordestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Death in custody
Charges: Unknown charge
Age at time of offense: 24

Human rights violations in this case

The Legal Context

The Courts


Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 11 February 1979-1994


In the immediate aftermath of the 11 February 1979 Revolution, an ad hoc tribunal, initially referred to as the Extraordinary Revolutionary Tribunal, was set up to try the officials of the previous regime, for which no specific procedures were devised. In a decree dated 24 February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini, the revolutionary religious leader, appointed a cleric as Shari’a Judge and instructed him “to issue Shari’a-based rulings,” thereby establishing the foundation of a system of special courts.


Initially, the revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction was determined by the religious judge’s interpretation of the Shari’a (Islamic law based on the teachings of the Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, the 12 imams, and the teachings of Shi’a scholars. On 17 June 1979, the Revolutionary Courts and the Prosecutor’s Office Rules of Procedure, which was only selectively observed, established the latter’s jurisdiction and make-up.


The Courts’ jurisdiction encompassed a wide array of offenses including moharebeh (“waging war with God”), efsad e fel arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”), crimes against national and international security, economic crimes, murder, profiteering, prostitution, rape, and narcotic drugs-related crimes. The law required that two of the three principal members of the Revolutionary Courts be Shari’a judges.



Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 1994-2002


With the adoption of the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994, and the Code of Criminal Procedure for General and Revolutionary Courts of 19 September 1999, a uniform code of procedure was applied to both revolutionary and general courts. The jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts was limited to 6 categories of offenses:

1. Crimes against national and international security,“moharebeh” (enmity with god) and “efsad e fel arz” (corruption on earth;)

2. defaming Ayatollah Khomeini and the Supreme Leader;

3. plotting against the Islamic Republic of Iran, armed action, terrorism, and sabotage;

4. espionage;

5. smuggling and drug-related crimes; 6. claims under Principle 49 (economic crimes) of the Constitution.

 6. Furthermore, pursuant to the Law on the Manner of Punishing Individuals Engaged in Unauthorized Audio and Visual Activities, Article 11, the revolutionary courts have jurisdiction over crimes that fall within the purview of said Law, including production and distribution of obscene materials and misuse and abuse thereof.

These courts continued, however, to try cases falling outside their jurisdiction, such as theft and sexual offenses. Further, the vagueness of laws regarding national security allowed the revolutionary courts to try political and media crimes whenever they wished to do so.


The new law eliminated the Prosecutor’s Office and gave the judges inthe Revolutionary Courts the power to perform the duties of the prosecutor, as well as their own, in any case brought before them.


Islamic Revolutionary Courts, 2002-Present


The Amended Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 2002 reinstated the Prosecutor’s Office in both revolutionary and general courts. In cases involving political and media crimes, revolutionary courts’ jurisdiction overlaps with that of Province Criminal Courts.


With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014, and its coming into force in June 2015, the jurisdiction of the revolutionary courts remains unchanged, with slight modifications in procedural aspects of adjudication. For instance, the new law provides that for crimes subject to the death penalty, life imprisonment, amputation, third degree, or higher, the revolutionary court shall convene with three judges, whereas, prior to the passage of this law, adjudication of all crimes within the jurisdiction of revolutionary courts took place with only a single judge.

The Appellate System of Revolutionary Courts, 1979-Present


From their inception until 1994, the rulings of the Revolutionary Courts were not subject to appeal. In the early 1980s a court entitled the Supreme Court of Qom was established in the city of Qom and which reviewed cases of execution and confiscation of properties, thereby forming a first tier form of appeal. The exact date of the creation of the court is not clear, but, based on available information, the court became operational in the early 1980s, even though Ayatollah Khomeini's official order for its creation is dated 1985. The court’s procedure was not systematic and did not meet the international standards for a court of appeals; there was no official record of its jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Qom was dissolved in 1989.


The Law of 14 June 1994 subjected the Courts’ decisions to appeal. An appellate court was established at each provincial capital, called the Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by the Revolutionary Courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those involving capital punishment.


Narcotic drugs-related crimes constitute a significant exception to the appeals process. Governed by the Anti-Narcotic Drugs Law of 1988, as Amended on 8 November 1997 and 31 July 3 2010, these crimes are within the jurisdiction of, and are adjudicated on a regular basis by, Revolutionary Courts whose decisions are final. After being handed down by the judge, death sentences are sent to the Prosecutor General or the Head of the Supreme Court as a matter of administrative approval.


With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 (and its coming into force in June 2015), however, drug related crimes became subject to appeal as well.

General Courts, 1979-1982


In cases not falling under the jurisdiction of the Revolutionary Courts, the system devised under the previous regime continued to function in parallel with new systems devised by laws passed by the Judicial Council, one of which, entitled The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, radically changed the entire structure and categorization of the courts. It divided the courts in three branches: Criminal, Civil, and Peace (a sort of arbitration court dealing with minor financial and other disputes). Specialized courts such as family courts were eliminated.


General Courts, 1982-1994


The Law of the Amendments to the Rules of Criminal Procedure of 1982 established a new criminal courts system, Criminal Courts I and II. Criminal Court I, established only in provincial capitals, had jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Criminal Court II heard less serious crimes.


General Courts, 1994-2002


The Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 14 June 1994 established umbrella courts called General Courts, which replaced and dissolved pre-existing civil and criminal courts. The law dissolved the Prosecutor’s offices and tasked a single person with the roles of judge, prosecutor, and investigator.


General Courts, 2002-2015


In 2002, the 1994 Law was amended, reviving the role of the Prosecutor’s Office in General Courts. The prosecution offices were re-established in a gradual process over several years. The amended law also re-established specialized branches within general courts dealing separately with criminal and civil matters. In addition, this law allocated a number of branches of the Province Court of Appeals to have original jurisdiction over a number of cases including the most serious offenses, as well as political and media crimes. In these cases, the branches are called the Province Criminal Court.


General Courts, 2015 to Today


With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 and its coming into force in June 2015, general courts underwent certain changes as well. Criminal courts were divided into Criminal Court One, Criminal Court Two, Military Court, Juvenile Court, and Revolutionary Court. Criminal Court One has jurisdiction over serious crimes such as those subject to the death penalty, life imprisonment, amputation, third degree, and higher, as well as political and media crimes. Criminal Court Two has jurisdiction over other crimes. Another change consists of the establishment of juvenile courts, which adjudicates crimes committed by individuals less than 18 years of age. In cases where the individuals less than 18 commit serious crimes such as those subject to the death penalty, however, Criminal Court One will have jurisdiction, observing rules of juvenile criminal procedure.


The Appellate System of General Courts, 1979-Present


The Legal Bill for the Establishment of General Courts of 11 September 1979, abolished appeal of most criminal courts’ decisions. The law of 1982 restricted the appeal possibility even further. According to the Islamic Republic authorities’ interpretation of Islamic Law, a qualified jurist’s decisions were not subject to appeal except under special circumstances, such as when the judge realized his own mistake, or another judge advised him so, or when he did not have jurisdiction over the case. Even in such situations, the case would not go to a higher court but would be subject to review by the same judge or another judge at his level. The judges were even urged to call their verdicts “opinions,” so that the possible change in the verdict would not be “haram” (“sinful,” the highest level of prohibition in Islam, disobedience of which would result in a sin).


In October 1988, the Majles (Iranian parliament) passed a law regarding review of court judgments. This law provided for an appeal if the conviction was claimed to be based on invalid documentation or false testimony. The defendant could also base an appeal on a point of law or a procedural violation.


The appellate system was expanded in other laws in the late 1980s and in 1993. The Law for the Establishment of Criminal Courts I and II of 11 July 1989 created the Branches of the Supreme Court. Crimes of less importance, tried in Criminal Court II, were subject to review by Criminal Court I.


For the most important crimes involving death punishment, which were under the jurisdiction of Criminal Court I, the law allowed limited appeal to the Branches of the Supreme Court. Defendants had the right to petition the Supreme Court for appeal in certain cases involving false testimony or procedural violations, and if granted, the case would be remanded to either another criminal court or the original one.


Finally, the Law for the Establishment of General and Revolutionary Courts of 1994, as amended in 2002, established an appellate court at each provincial capital, called Province Court of Appeals, composed of a three-judge panel, to review decisions made by both general and revolutionary courts. The Supreme Court was designated as the appellate authority for particular decisions, including those carrying the death penalty, as well as decisions made by the Province Criminal Court.


The amended law of 2002, continued the appellate procedure to the Branches of the Supreme Court established by the afore-mentioned law of 11 July 1989


The Supreme Court continues to be the competent authority to rule on new trials, which have been provided for in limited circumstances.

With the passage of the new Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2014 and its coming into force in June 2015, the Court of Appeals shall be the competent authority to hear appeals from Criminal Court Two decisions, and the Supreme Court shall hear appeals from Criminal Court One decisions.

Special Courts for the Clergy


These courts are rooted in a 1979 decree, issued by Ayatollah Khomeini, which established a committee of religious and noble figures in every region to purge the clergy of anti-revolutionary elements under the supervision of the Revolutionary Courts. Between late 1981 and 1984, a special court in the city of Qom handled, though not systematically, the trial of clerics.


On 29 July 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini officially appointed a prosecutor and a member of the clergy as Shari’a judge for Special Courts for the Clergy. On 6 August 1990, a directive was issued regulating the conduct of these courts, the jurisdictional ambiguity of which is such that it effectively extends to “anyone where one of the parties is a cleric” and to “all matters in which the Court is designated as competent by the Supreme Leader.”


The court, which was not mentioned in the Islamic Republic's constitution, was mandated to try “pseudo clerics, those related to/connected with the clergy, for public and/or anti-revolutionary crimes, and violations of the prestige of the clergy,” and where the principal suspect is a member of the clergy, “any co-conspirator or assistant, whether a cleric or not.”


These courts are generally not open to the public and can issue sentences for all acts and omissions punishable under codified Iranian laws or Shari’a or for any other acts or omissions which can bring dishonor to the clergy or to the Islamic Revolution. Further, in certain particular cases – which have not been defined – where no punishment has been devised by either the Penal Code or even the Shari’a, the Court “can rule as it deems fit.” 


The Appellate System of the Special Court for the Clergy, 1979-Present


There is no information on any appeal process for the Special Court for the Clergy prior to the 1990 directive. Article 49 of said directive set up, however, an appeals court called Special Appellate Court for the Clergy, the head of which is appointed by the Supreme Leader, to which the decisions of the lower court can be appealed.


Military Courts


The military court system, independent from the judiciary under the previous regime, became a part of it on 1 December 1981. The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces, established in 1986, replaced and merged other military courts and tribunals in existence at the time, namely the pre-revolution Judiciary Organization of the Army, the Revolutionary Tribunal of the Army (established on 8 December 1979), and the Revolutionary and General Court for the Revolutionary Guards (established on 15 July 1979.) The Judiciary Organization of the Armed Forces has its own Criminal Code and follows the country’s general rules of criminal procedure.


The Law of the Criminal Procedure of the Armed Forces of 15 May 1985 created Military Courts I and II. Military Court I has jurisdiction over more serious offenses, including those punishable by death, and Military Court II hears less serious crimes.


The Appellate System of Military Courts, 1979-Present


The law of 8 December 1979, establishing the Revolutionary Military Court, did not provide for any appeals. The Law of 15 May 1985 created a system of appeals through the creation of a two-tier system of courts. The decisions of Military Court II were subject to review by Military Court I. This law also provided that multiple Branches of the Supreme Court be designated as the appellate court to review decisions of Military Court I.


The judges


1979-1997: Prosecutors and judges are not necessarily law graduates and jurists. Shortly after the Islamic Revolution, a five-member Committee was established to purge the judicial system of undesirable elements, pursuant to the Legal Bill for the Modification of the Judiciary and the Law for Hiring Judges of 8 March 1979. The power of the committee was absolute and its decisions, resulting in a widespread purge of the judiciary, final.


The Law for the Conditions of Selection of Judges of 4 May 1981 established the conditions of eligibility for judges. The latter were to be hired among men who were legitimate children and had practical commitment to Islam and allegiance to the Islamic Republic. The law, which led to the hiring of clerics and Islamic legal scholars, also allowed hiring practically anyone as a judge who could “obtain the Judicial High Council’s permission.” Moreover, Note 2 of the Amendments of 4 October 1982 to this law allowed widespread employment of seminary students “who ha[d] general knowledge equivalent to a high school diploma” as judges at prosecutor’s offices in general as well as Revolutionary Courts.  


By 1989, the judiciary counted about 2,000 new judges trained in theological seminaries (graduates and students) and political appointees, many having replaced judges trained in law schools.


1997-Present: As of this writing (2013) the Law for Hiring Judges and its amendments of 4 October 1982, 7 February 1987, and 9 May 1988 are in full force and form the basis for hiring judges. The Executive Rules of Procedure of 22 December 1997 subjected such hiring to passing an entrance examination and successful completion of an apprenticeship program, the duration of which ranges between one and two years. The law does not limit hiring to men only but does not specify in what capacity women will be functioning, other than an advisory one.

Currently, judges are selected in accordance with the Guidelines on the Recruitment, Selection, and Internship for Judicial Candidates and the Hiring of Judges.


Dismissal of Judges: From 1979 to 1989, the judiciary was run by the Supreme Judicial Council which was composed of the head of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General (both of whom were appointed by the Supreme Leader), and three judges elected by the entire body of judges in the country. The Council had the power to hire and dismiss judges in accordance with the law.


The constitutional reforms of 1989 substituted the Supreme Judicial Council with one person, the Head of the Judiciary. The Supreme Leader, whose mandate is not subject to popular vote, appoints the Head of the Judiciary for a 5-year term. The latter has significant power to influence the dismissal of judges. Dismissal cases are referred to three types of disciplinary courts, presided over by judges appointed by the Head of the Judiciary, who has veto power over any decisions made by the relevant courts.


Two of these courts, established in 1991 and 2011, are charged with examining the judges’ conduct from a religious and ideological standpoint. The process does not necessarily involve the defendant and the final decision, left to the Head of the Judiciary, is not subject to appeal.


Human rights violations

Based on the available information, 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 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 one’s interests.

UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

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 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, and 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 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.

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 engaged a while before his death in Sanandaj Information Administration detention, and had recently returned to his hometown from Tehran to prepare for the wedding.

Information regarding the death of Mr. Saru Qahremani, child of Mohammad, was obtained from Tasnim News Agency (January 15, 2018) and Kordpa website (January 14, 2018). Additional information about this case was obtained from HRANA website (January 20, 2018), Mehr News Agency (January 14, 2018), Zeytun News and Analysis website (January 14, 2018), Radio Farda (January 14, 2018), Iran Wire (January 15, 2018), and Kayhan London (January 16, 2018).

Mr. Qahremani was 24 years old. He was a quiet and shy family man. (Radio Farda, January 14, 2018; Kayhan London, January 16, 2018). He was arrested when he was under the age of 18 for being a supporter of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (1) and was imprisoned for two years. Kayhan London, January 16, 2018; Iran Wire, January 15, 2018).

Mr. Qahremani had become engaged to be married a short while before the winter of 2018. (Radio Farda, January 14, 2018; Kayhan London, January 16, 2018).

This case is related to Mr. Qahremani’s death in detention. 

Nationwide Protests

Popular public protests began on Thursday, December 28, 2018. On the first day, thousands of people in Mashhad, Kashmar, Birjand, and Neishabur in Khorassan Razavi Province participated in the “No To Rising Prices” demonstrations. In videos of these demonstrations disseminated online in social networks and in the media, the protestors also chanted slogans against several of the country’s leaders. On the second day, protests spread to other cities in Iran including Esfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Rasht, Sari, Ghouchan, Sabzevar, and Khorramabad, and the protestors’ slogans turned against the institutions of the Islamic republic and the Leader of the Revolution himself. With the city of Qom joining other protesting cities, slogans were chanted in support of Reza Shah Phalavi. On the third day, simultaneous with government sponsored demonstrations celebrating Dey 9th(December 30) in Tehran’s Mosalla (“Prayer Place”), protests continued across Iran in Kermanshah, Dezful, Karaj’s Gohardasht Neighborhood, Rasht, Arak, Shiraz, Shar-e Kord, Khorramabad, Zanjan, Bandar Abbas, Semnan, and Hashtgerd, with skirmishes breaking out between protestors and government forces. On December 31, 2018, protests continued in Tehran, Mashhad, Kermanshah, Rasht, Arak, Tabriz, Maragheh, Behshahr, Chahbahar, Hashtgerd, Orumieh, Dorud, amd Malayer. Iranian Television reported the death of 10 people in the protests, and [the town of] Izeh’s representative announced 2 individuals had been killed in that town. Hamedan Governor’s office also reported the death of 3 people. In a cabinet meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rohani addressed the protests for the first time and while reiterating the people’s right to peaceful protests, stated that the government would not tolerate chaos and disorder. On the fifth day, January 1, 2018, the protests became more violent, with a police precinct in the town of Qahdarijan in Esfahan Province set ablaze, following which 6 people were killed.

Sanandaj was one of the cities that was home to public protests from the first days. Dozens of people were arrested during these protests, at least four of who, were killed in the city’s detention centers. (2)

Seven days after the protests began, the regime’s supporters started demonstrations in various cities at the government’s invitation, and condemned the popular protests. On that same day, even though smaller protests occurred in several cities, the protests generally began to subside. Social networking apps, Instagram and Telegram were filtered during the protests and the filtering of Telegram continued after they were over.

From the time nationwide protests began, until its one year anniversary in December 2018-January 2019, Iranian government officials reacted differently to the events, ranging from ascribing it to internal political competition between various groups, to announcing a “foreign enemy” as the culprit.

Protests against economic conditions are ongoing and have intensified in recent months with labor strikes in a number of factories, including Ahvaz Steel Factory, and Neyshekar Haft Tappeh Factory (Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Factory).

Mr. Qahremani’s Death

According to information published Mr. Qahremani’s family and persons close to him, he disappeared on January 2ndor 3rd, 2018. They believe Mr. Qahremani was in Sanandaj Information Administration detention for approximately the following 10 days. (Iran Wire, January 15, 2018; HRANA, January 20, 2018; Kayhan London, January 16).

Mr. Qahremani disappeared on January 2, 2018, and his body was turned over to his family on January 13, 2018. Even though the authorities stated that he had been killed in armed skirmishes unrelated to the nationwide protests, there are no bullet wounds in his body, but there are bruises caused by severe beatings.

According to statements made by authorities, Mr. Qahremani had not been arrested. According to said authorities, on January 4, 2018, he had “made an armed threat against a citizen” in a Sanandaj parking lot, and had subsequently left the scene. Officials have stated that Mr. Qahremani was pursued upon a complaint brought by said citizen. (Tasnim, January 15, 2018). There is not sufficient evidence of an armed conflict having occurred in the city of Sanandaj.

Officials’ Reaction

On January 12, 2018, Sanandaj Information Administration agents contacted Mr. Qahremani’s family and asked them to go to the Administration’s location to take delivery of his body. Mr. Qahremani’s parents took delivery of their child’s body on the morning of January 3rdand buried him at a location designated by Information Administration agents, in the presence of said agents. (HRANA, January 20, 2018; Kordpa, January 14, 2018).

On January 14, 2018, one day after the publication of Mr. Qahremani’s death, Sanandaj governor announced that in December-January, Mr. Qahremani had intended to flee “disregarding the agents’ order to stop” and had subsequently fired at them. According to this official, Mr. Qahremani was killed due to government forces returning fire. The governor of Sanandaj did not specify the exact date and time of that event. (Tasnim, January 15, 2018).

On January 14, 2018, state news agencies and state-run Iranian Television broadcast a video in which Mr. Qahremeani’s father talked of his membership in a Kurdish armed group opposed to the Islamic Republic. He stated in the video that his son had been killed in an armed conflict. (Mehr News Agency, January 14, 2018).

Nevertheless, Information Administration agents did not allow funeral services for Mr. Qahremani to be held at a mosque; several plainclothes agents attended a wake held at Mr. Qahremani’s home. They interrupted the wake that evening and did not allow any of their friends and relatives to remain in Mr. Qahremani’s family’s home. (HRANA, January 20, 2018; Kayhan London, January16, 2018).

Official media also related the news of his arrest record because of contact with an armed Kurdish group in 2012-13 and the charge of “efforts to assassinate” an individual. According to these sources, Mr. Qahremani then spent two years in prison. (Tasnim, January 15, 2018).

Family’s Reaction

News of Mr. Qahremani’s death was published on January 14, 2018, by independent media quoting persons close to him. According to this information, Mr. Qahremani was killed under torture at Sanandaj Information Administration Detention Center on either January 12, or January 14, 2018. (Kordpa, January 14, 2018; HRANA, January 20, 2018). According to this information, and based on the findings of an independent group called “Committee for the Follow-up of the December 2017-January 2018 Arrests” that had started its activities in that same time period for the purpose of reporting on the condition of the arrestees of the December-January 2018 events, Mr. Qahremani had disappeared since either January 2, or January 3, 2018. (Kordpa, January 14, 2018; HRANA, January 20, 2018; Kayhan London, January 16, 2018). Given the observations made by Mr. Qahremani’s parents after identifying their son’s body, persons close to Mr. Qahremani have questioned [and doubted the accuracy of] the account of his death in an armed conflict. Quoting Mr. Qahremani’s mother, they insist that there were “no bullet wounds in his body” but “signs of bruising” as a result of beatings. (Zeytun News and Analysis website, January 14, 2018; Iran Wire, January 15, 2018).

Persons close to Mr. Qahremani still argue: If, according to officials, he was under investigation since December 25, 2018, for creating fear [in society], how was it that he was freely roaming the town until January 2ndor 3rd, and no one had attempted to arrest him? (Iran Wire, January 15, 2018; Kayhan London, January 16, 2018). Lack of sufficient evidence of an armed conflict which, according to the authorities, resulted in Mr. Qahremani being killed, is another argument put forth by persons close to him to refute the claim. They argue that when news of armed conflicts in Kurdistan Province border towns as well as in other border provinces, is routinely reported in the media and described in detail, the lack of information regarding such an armed conflict in the Kurdistan Province capital is very suspicious. (Kayhan London, January 16, 2018). The period between Mr. Qahremani’s disappearance and the time the body was turned over to the family is another reason persons close to him do not accept the official account. (Kayhan London, January 16, 2018; Radio Farda, January 14, 2018). Human Rights organizations have reported that the television interview conducted with Mr. Qahremani’s father where he denounces his son and affiliates him with an armed Kurdish group, was done under duress and threats by Sanandaj Information Administration agents. (HRANA, January 20, 2018). According to members of Mr. Qahremani’s family, he had never engaged in armed activities, and that was why his 5-year prison sentence issued in 2012-13, was reduced to 2 years. (Kayhan London, January 16, 2018).

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Saru Qahremani’s Case

According to Mr. Saru Qahremeni’s family’s statements and based on reports published in the media, he was killed while in the Information Administration’s detention center. However, on January 14, 2018, Sanandaj governor announced that in January 2018, Mr. Qahremani had intended to flee, disregarding the agents’ order to stop, and had subsequently fired at them. According to this official, Mr. Qahremani was killed due to government forces returning fire. Either way, Saru Qahremani’s killing was unlawful. According to Iranian law, it is strictly prohibited to torture and beat a defendant, and the officer carrying out such acts is considered a criminal and will be punished. If the defendant dies as a result of torture, the killing will be a case of intentional murder. According to available information, judicial authorities dismissed the murder theory from the get go and without conducting the necessary investigations, whereas it was necessary for said investigations to be conducted [by an investigating judge] at the Prosecutor’s Office before any opinion could be rendered.

Even assuming that the second account is the accurate one, the officers’ firing at Saru Qahremani was unlawful, since, pursuant to the Law on the Use of Arms by the Armed Forces in Exigent Cases, there are certain requirements that must be fulfilled [before an officer can resort to firearms]; for instance, such use must be necessary, a warning must be given prior to firing, then a warning shot must be fired [in the air], and only then a shot may be fired aiming below the waist. Subsequently, if none of the latter steps are successful in reaching the objective, shots can be fired above the waist.

In either of the above accounts, it was necessary to open a case and conduct the necessary investigations. The body should have been turned over to the Medical Examiner’s Office [for an autopsy] to determine the cause of death. Considering that none of this was done, and given the officials’ contradictory statements, it appears that Mr. Qahremani’s death was not examined properly and in accordance with the law.


(1) The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) was founded in 1945 with the goal to gain autonomy for Kurdistan, in north-western Iran. After the Revolution, conflicts between the new central Shiite government and mainly Sunni Kurdistan regarding the role of minorities in the drafting of the constitution, specification of Shiite as the official state religion, and particularly the autonomy of the region, ended in armed clashes between the Revolutionary Guards and the peshmerga (the militia of the PDKI). The PDKI boycotted the referendum of April 1, 1979, when people went to polls to vote for or against the Islamic regime. On August 19, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini called the PDKI the “party of Satan” and declared it “unofficial and illegal.” Mass executions and fighting broke out and continued for several months in the region. By 1983, the PDKI had lost much of its influence in the region. In the years since various leaders of the PDKI have been assassinated. Following internal disputes, the party split in 2006 and two organizations were established as “The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan,” and “The Democratic Party of Kurdistan.”
(2)   A member of the Majless (Parliament), quoting the Head of Iran’s Prisons Organization, stated that 4,972 people had been arrested in the course of the nationwide protests. At least 15 of the arrestees died in detention under suspicious circumstances, but Iranian authorities did not take responsibility for their deaths. Iranian authorities announced that by the end of the sixth day of protests, 21 individuals had died in street skirmishes. Official state news also announced the death of two students in the protests.

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