Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Goshtasb Sabet Rasekh


Age: 30
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: September 11, 1981
Location of Killing: Esfahan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting
Charges: Religious offense; Unknown charge
Age at time of alleged offense: 30

About this Case

was killed extrajudicially, only because he was a Baha’i.

The news of the extrajudicial death of Mr. Goshtasb Sabet Rasekh (also spelled "Gushtasb Thabit-Rasikh") long with four other people, was obtained through Abdorrahman Boroumand Center’s interviews with an informed person on March 18, 2012 (ABC interview). Additional information in this regard was obtained through Archives of Baha’i’s Persecution in Iran’s website (ABPI website).

Mr. Sabet Rasekh is one of the 206 Iranian Baha’is listed in a 1993 report published by the Baha’i International Community. The report documents the persecution of the members of the Faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran and lists the Baha’is killed since 1979.

Mr. Sabet Rasekh was born in 1951 in the village of Chigan, Faridan County, Esfahan Province. He was married with two children and worked as a farmer.

Mr. Sabet Rasekh was a Baha’i, serving as a member of the local Baha’i youth committee of the village of Chigan. Shortly after the Islamic revolution in 1979, the persecution against the Baha’is of Chigan was intensified. He and most of the Baha’is of Chigan were forced to flee their village and move to Esfahan (ABPI website).

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Background

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran - the largest religious minority, with approximately 300 thousand members in 1979*- to systematic harassment and persecution, depriving them of their most fundamental human rights. The Baha'i religion is not recognized under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, and Iranian authorities refer to it as a heresy. As a result, the Baha'is have been denied the rights associated with the status of a religious minority; they cannot profess and practice their faith, and are banned from public functions. Discrimination under the law and in practice has subjected them to abuse and violence.**

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran is not specific to the time of the Islamic Republic but it was in this era that it was amplified and institutionalized. During the Revolution itself, supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini attacked Baha’i homes and businesses and in certain instances, even committed murder.

On the eve of his return from France to Iran, in response to a question regarding political and religious freedom of Baha’is under the rule of an Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini stated: “They are a political party; they are harmful and detrimental. They will not be acceptable.” The interviewer asked another question: “Will they be free to perform their religious rites?” The Ayatollah responded: “No.” Khomeini had previously “spoken of the Baha’i threat to the Shah’s regime, Islam, national unity, and national security” in various speeches. (Asoo website, October 6, 2015).

After being detained, Mr. Sabet Rasekh was severely tortured.

Arrest and detention

On August 16, 1981, Mr. Sabet Rasekh was arrested in his home in the city of Esfahan. The following day, he was transferred to Daran Prison, located 150 kilometers south of Esfahan. According to available information, after being detained, Mr. Sabet Rasekh was severely tortured. He did not have access to a lawyer during his detention (ABPI website).


According to available information, no court session was held to try Mr. Sabet Rasekh.

Mr. Sabet Rasekh’s sole charge was “believing in the Baha’i religion”.


According to the interviewee, Mr. Sabet Rasekh’s sole charge was “believing in the Baha’i religion” (ABC interview).

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

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against Mr. Sabet Rasekh.


No information is available on Mr. Sabet Rasekh’s defense.

The representatives of the Baha’i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They note that Baha’is’ requests to access their files are usually denied, and access to attorneys is often denied.

However, the representatives of the Baha’i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They note that Baha’is’ requests to access their files are usually denied, and access to attorneys is often denied. They refute the validity of charges such as counter-revolutionary political activities or spying leveled against them in Iranian courts. They point out that the fundamental principles of their religion require them to show loyalty and obedience to their government and refrain from any political involvement. They believe that the accusation of espionage for Israel is unfounded and based solely on the fact that the Baha’i World Centre is in Israel. They point out that this Center was established on Mount Carmel in the late 19th century, long before the establishment of the State of Israel.

Shortly after Mr. Sabet Rasekh and four other Baha’i prisoners left Daran Prison, the prison’s officials shot them in the back.


There is no information on the court order issued against Mr. Sabet Rasekh.

Mr. Sabet Rasekh’s death

On the morning of September 11, 1981, the prison’s officials told Mr. Goshtasb Sabet Rasekh and four other Baha’i prisoners named Ataollah Ruhani, Ahmad Ridvani, Ezat'ollah Atefi Afusi, and Bahman Atefi Afusi that they were free to go home. Shortly after they left Daran Prison, the prison’s officials shot them in the back. The officials then spread word in the village that the men had been executed for intending to escape from prison (ABC interview).

The officials buried Mr. Sabet Rasekh’s body in a Muslim cemetery in Chikan without informing his family and without following the Baha’i’s burial laws (ABPI website).


* ‘Slow Death for Iran’s Baha’is’ by Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine,20 February 1984. Also see ‘The Persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, 1844-1984, by Douglas Martin, Baha’i Studies,volume 12/13, 1984, p. 3. There is no information about the current number of Baha’is in Iran.
** The Islamic Republic Penal Code grants no rights to Baha'is, and the courts have denied them the right to redress or to protection against assault, murder, and other forms of persecution and abuse. In so doing, the courts have treated Baha'is as unprotected citizens or "apostates," citing eminent religious authorities whose edicts are considered to be a source of law equal to acts of Parliament. The Founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made execution a punishment for the crime of apostasy and decreed that a Muslim would not be punished for killing an apostate.

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