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

Masih Farhangi


Age: 69
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Execution: July 24, 1981
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Religious offense; Espionage; Working with or for a foreign power
Age at time of offense: 67

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.


Detentions, interrogations, and trials: 1981-1988

Pre-trial detentions

The accused were held, sometimes without being charged, for months or years in overcrowded prisons. During their detention, prisoners of conscience, and in particular supporters of political opposition groups or members of religious or ethnic minorities, were routinely subject to physical and psychological torture. Interrogators used torture, authorized by the post-revolutionary law of Ta’zir (Discretionary Punishment Law), to obtain confessions of guilt or to induce repentance. The line between trial and interrogation was often blurred by the fact that the same individual would function as prosecutor, interrogator and judge.


Executed detainees may or may not have been tried formally. Prisoners of conscience were often tried through a summary process that might have lasted only a few minutes. When disclosed, charges facing the defendants were often vague or based on coerced confessions. Defendants had no access to attorneys, and they might not have been allowed to defend themselves.

Appeal processes

Convicts could not appeal their sentence and were often executed shortly after their conviction. Their execution was not necessarily announced.

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, the following human rights 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 thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest his or her religion or belief.

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

    • The right, as a member of a religious or ethnic minority, to enjoy his or her own culture or to profess and practice his or her own religion.

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 27.

    • The right to equality before the law and the right to equal protection of the law.

UDHR, Article 7; ICCPR, Article 26.

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 own 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, 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 defense through legal assistance of his or her own choosing or legal aid. The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.

    • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

    • The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

ICCPR, Article 14.5.

    • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

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

The information regarding the life and execution of Dr. Masih Farhangi originates in a publication entitled: The Biography and Good Services of Dr. Masih Farhangi (Biography), edited by his daughter, Dr. Farhang Farhangi, and published in 2017 in Ontario, Canada. This  Biography contains the transcripts of excerpts of Mrs. Alavian’s interview about Mr. Farhangi and his religious activities; it also includes the memoirs of his spouse Mrs. Qamar-ol-Moluk Seif (Farhangi). Mr. Masih Farhangi is also 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 1978. Additional information has been drawn from various issues of the The Baha’i World (See for example: Vol. XIX, 1982-1986, Haifa 1994.) 

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

The Baha’i religious community is the largest minority group in Iran, with approximately 300,000 members in 1979 (more current figures are not available).*  The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected Baha’is 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 an official 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. 

About Dr. Masih Farhangi

Mashih Farhangi’s father converted to the Baha’i religion when he was still a young man. His son Masih officially became a Baha’i when he reached the age of 15. In 1937 Masih graduated from medical school, and a year later in 1938 he married Qamar-ol-Moluk. Together they had two daughters, Farhang and Shahla, and two sons, Fariborz and Shahbaz. As he started to practice medicine he also became active in Baha’i community life in Iran. He joined the Baha'i continental board of counsellors**, and served in the Baha’i spiritual assemblies*** of Iran and Iraq. During his life, Dr. Farhangi travelled extensively around the world to promote Baha’i religion. He was very popular among his patients. In Iran’s northern city of Rasht, where he used to practice, his patients affectionately nicknamed him “Dr. One Prescription,” meaning he was able to cure his patients with the first prescription. According to his spouse, he would not charge destitute patients, and was willing to go to patients who were unable to go to his office (Biography, p. 170). He loved reading and had a fine wit and beautiful handwriting. Painting was his favorite hobby, and he took pleasure in copying paintings of the masters. Dr. Farhangi also loved poetry and literature, and he himself wrote poetry (Biography, p. 174-93).

A few months before the victory of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Islamist militants intensified their activism against active notables of the Baha’i community and targeted Dr. Farhangi.. One day the son of a cleric slapped him in the street (Biography, p. 123). Dr. Farhangi filed a complaint at the police station but the police did not follow up on his complaint. With the intensification of the pressure on him and his family, Dr. Farhangi closed his practice in Rasht and moved to the capital city, Tehran.

According to Ms. Farhangi, the family had the opportunity to live outside Iran, but Mr. Farhangi preferred to continue to serve his fellow Iranians, which he did, even when imprisoned in Evin Prison. Fellow prisoners who visited his family reported that Mr. Farhangi was a great help to them and others in prison who were sick and in distress (Biography, p. 123-24, 142-44, 153). 

Arrest and detention

Mrs. Farhangi who was home at the time of arrest, reports that at 8:00 PM on February 7, 1980, two revolutionary guards, one of whom was armed, rang the home doorbell and pushed their way into the house: “First they cut the telephone line and took our phonebook.” Two other individuals joined them shortly after and started to search the house: “They emptied all our suitcases in the middle of the room as if they were looking for money and jewelry. The other two took all the books and put them in large bags… they took everything they found out of the house: camera, tape-recorder, radio, money, jewelry… This lasted until midnight… When they finished, they made a list and told Masih to sign it. He said, ‘What should I sign: for all I know you may have put drugs in the bags, and then you would charge me with trafficking?’ The guards emptied the bags to show he had not put anything else in them. And they took Masih with them. Masih said goodbye [to us] and asked us to remain calm.” (Biography, p.129). In her account, Mrs. Farhangi does not mention any arrest warrant. After two days she was informed that Dr. Masih Farhangi was detained in Evin prison.

Dr. Farhangi was kept in solitary confinement until March 8, 1980, and not allowed visitation but was allowed to receive clothing from home. On March 8th, he was transferred to Section 2 of Evin prison, and his wife was allowed to visit him for the first time. The psychological and physical torture he had endured had enfeebled him so much that he could not stand. After the first visitation, Mrs. Farhangi was allowed a visitation behind glass every Sunday. Each visitation lasted 15 minutes.

For the Persian new year, March 21st, 1980], Mrs. Farhangi was permitted a private visit with her husband. During this visit, Dr. Farhangi told his wife that his interrogator was no other than the very guard who had promised to take care of him at the time of his arrest. He had been blindfolded and was facing the wall during his interrogation: “The questions were numerous and concerned international spying, relations with Israel, relations with the United States…”. After the first interrogation session, he had been taken to a room where other prisoners were held. They had told him he was in Evin prison: “Then they took me to solitary confinement in a dark and damp basement without fresh air, with a very small window…” (Biography, p.133-34).

Dr. Farhangi’s wife reports he had told her that while in solitary confinement, he had been once beaten by the guards because he needed urgently to use the restroom and had screamed for help for four hours. He had been kept in solitary confinement for 15 days, after which he had been transferred to a public section, but because he had been praying loudly, he had been taken back to solitary confinement (Biography, p.133-34).

In Mrs. Farhangi’s memoirs two other interrogation sessions are alluded to without dates: “During one of our visitations, Masih told me ‘They took me for interrogation and asked 150 questions, I wrote down the responses to some of the questions.’ I asked him if he recognized the interrogator. He said, ‘No, I was blindfolded, and responding to the rest of the questions was postponed to the day after, but the day after I had the flu and they waited three days for me to feel better… I responded to the rest of their questions. Among other things they asked me if I had visited the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh in Israel. I said twice: once on pilgrimage and once for medical treatment of my wife. The interrogator told me I will put your dossier at the bottom of the piling so that you wouldn’t be tried any time soon’ ” (Biography, p.149-50).

Prison officials asked Dr. Farhangi to take charge of patients within his ward. After lengthy negotiations, the prison director had authorized Mrs. Farhangi to provide Dr. Farhangi with his blood pressure meter. Some of the prison guards and their family were also consulting with Dr. Farhangi (Biography, p.135).

One of Dr. Farhangi’s cell mates, who has spent time with him in Room 1 of Section 3 of Evin prison told his family that guards had staged several mock executions for Mr. Farhangi in order to force him to renounce his religion (Biography, p.138).

In total Dr. Masih Farhangi spent 502 days in detention. 


No precise information is available on Mr. Farhangi's trial. According to one of his cellmates, he had been taken before the religious judge several times: “The recantation opportunity was given only once to each Baha’i prisoner. But since prison authorities needed Dr. Farhangi’s medical services, they took him multiple times before the judge to make him recant, but he was steadfast in his religious beliefs and refused to recant. It is not clear if each of these meetings with the religious judge were a kind of trial session, and it is not known if a prosecutor was present during these meetings. The defendant was deprived of the services of legal counsel at all stages of the proceedings.


It is only retrospectively through the written sentence issued by the tribunal (reproduced in the aforementioned Biography) that charges brought against the defendants were enumerated: “member of the leadership cadre, and active leader of the Zionist deviant cult in Asia,” “spying for international Zionism,” “intelligence relations with the Zionist country occupying Jerusalem,” “multiple trips to different cities of the world in order to mislead Muslims and proselytize for the deviant cult, and sending reports to Haifa,” “acting against the Islamic Republic,” and “full support of the scandalous crimes of the regime occupying Jerusalem.”

Evidence of guilt

No exact information is available regarding the evidence presented to the judge. Considering the substance of the charges brought against the defendant, which criminalized his religion, personal faith, and religious activities, the evidence presented against him may have been drawn from the interrogation report and Dr. Farhangi’s own responses regarding his religious beliefs and activities, which he never denied. The verdict against Farhangi cited his involvement with the Baha’i leadership, suggesting evidence of his religious activities was used against him.


No information is available on Mr. Farhangi's defense.

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 Center 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.


Dr. Masih Farhangi’s written sentence is published in his biography (Biography, p.157). The ruling bears no date and no judge’s signature and reads as follows: “Masih Farhangi Sabet, son of Abdol-Rahim, member of the leadership cadre, and active leader of the Zionist deviant cult in Asia,” based on charges brought against him, “has been recognized as a clear example of a corruptor on earth, who is at war against God, in rebellion against the Islamic government, and sentenced to death.” In late April and late May Dr. Masih Farhangi was allowed his last visitations with his spouse and sister. During these meetings he had told them: “I am finished, you must move on and stop thinking of me, don’t be sorrowful.” The last week of June 1981 all contacts with Evin prison were suspended, and no one was allowed in prison. Mrs. Farhangi called a prison warden to ask why she couldn’t visit her husband. The guard told her: “The Doctor and all the others are fine” and then hastily hung up the phone (Biography, p.151).

On June 24th, 1981 the Islamic Republic’s state radio announced the execution of Dr. Masih Farhangi along with three other Baha’i detainees****. Their families had not been informed and were deprived of their right to say goodbye to their loved ones. Mrs. Farhangi has written about that day: “At 8:00 AM, the radio announced the execution of four lackeys of Israel) … then the names were read:d Farid, Postchi, Masih Farhangi… I didn’t hear the fourth name… I went to the coroner office with my son in law… and two other friends… we were led to a room to sign the papers and receive the bodies … approximately 1,000 people, Baha’is and non-Baha’is had gathered there (in Golestan Javid Cemetery) …” The very same day the four Baha’is victims were buried (Biography, p.152-53). A photo of Dr. Farhangi’s corpse was taken before the burial and published in his biography, on his right foot was written “against Islam” (Biography, p.157). A few days after the executions, Mrs. Farhangi and one of her daughters traveled to the northern city of Rasht. While they were away, their house in Tehran was confiscated by the government.


* ‘Slow Death for Iran’s Baha’is’ by Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine, February 20, 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 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.
Banishment from public functions has seriously damaged the Baha’is’ professional, economic, and social lives. Soon after the revolution, a Ministry of Labor directive called for the dismissal from public office and all governmental organizations and associations of those “who belong to any of the misguided sects recognized by all Muslims as heretical deviations from Islam, or to organizations whose doctrine and constitution are based on rejection of the divinely-revealed religions.” Finally, the mandatory requirement of specifying religion in application forms and official documents (lifted recently in some areas under international pressure) has seriously limited Baha’is’ freedoms and opportunities in all areas of their lives including divorce, inheritance, access to universities and travel.
In practice, since 1980, thousands of Baha’is have lost their jobs, pensions, businesses, properties and educational opportunities. By banning the Baha’i administration including Spiritual Assemblies -  the elected bodies that lead and administer the affairs of Baha’i communities at both local and national levels - the Islamic Republic has denied Baha’is the right to meet, elect, and operate their religious institutions. Further, the Iranian government has executed at least 200 Baha’is and has imprisoned, tortured, and pressured to convert to Islam scores more. 
Because of the unanimous international condemnation of the persecution of this quietist, apolitical religious community, Iranian authorities do not always admit that the Baha’is are being punished for their religious beliefs. Therefore, judicial authorities have often charged Baha’is with offenses such as “being involved in counter-revolutionary activities,” “having supported the former regime,” “being agents of Zionism,” or “being involved with prostitution, adultery, and immorality.” 
** Dr. Farhangi was a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors for Asia, an appointed leadership position which oversees the auxiliary board members.
*** An ensemble consisting of 9 people who are elected annually by the votes of the leaders in each country and will be responsible for the current affairs of teh Bahai's comuunity in that country.
**** Messers Badi'ullah FaridYadu'llah Pustchi, and Varqa Tibyaniyan

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