Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

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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