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

Firuz Nai'mi


Age: 46
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Execution: June 14, 1981
Location: Hamedan, Hamedan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: War on God; Corruption on earth
Age at time of offense: 45

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

was a physician and treated poor patients at his office free of charge, and even paid for their medications from his own pocket.

News of the execution of Mr. Firuz Na’imi, son of Alireza and Zivar, and six other individuals* was published in Ettela’at and Kayhan newspapers on June 15, 1981. Additional information about this case was obtained from Ettela’at newspaper (June 17, and July 9, 1981); documents published on the Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran website including his last letter to his wife and the last letter of his inmate (June 13, 1981) his introduction letter; the defense written by the [city of] Hamedan Spiritual Assembly members (February 11, 1981); a Revolutionary Guardsman’s testimony on his and his co-defendants’ behalf; Baha’is National Spiritual Assembly of the United States “Andalib” (Winter 1990); Iran Wire website (September 7, 2014); the Baha’i News videos on a YouTube channel (June 11, 2016); Baha’is in the Media website (December 2008-January 2009); Gooya News website (April 28, 2015); and Martyrs of the Baha’i Faith website (February 9, 2013).

Mr. Na’imi was born on October 3, 1935, in the town of Ashkabad in the former Soviet Union. Mr. Na’imi was 2 years old when his family was exiled first to the city of Mashhad, and then to the city of Yazd [both in Iran] for their religious beliefs. Mr. Na’imi performed his mandatory military service in the city of Hamedan and subsequently took up residence there. Prior to the 1979 Revolution, he was the head of the Combatting Malaria Administration at the City of Hamedan’s Health Ministry [Branch]. He also taught at Bu Ali Sina (Avicenna) University in Hamedan for a while. In 1979, Mr. Na’imi was fired from the Health Ministry and started working at a hospital while keeping his own medical practice as well. Mr. Na’imi’s friends have described him as a people-person who “dedicated his life to helping others.” He treated poor patients at his office free of charge. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran; Andalib, Spring 1988; Iran Wire). 

Mr. Na’imi was married. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran). He was a member of the Hamedan Spiritual Assembly** and its supervisor. (Andalib, Spring 1988). Mr. Na’imi was summoned by Hamedan Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office in the summer of 1979. (Iran Wire).

This case is related to the arrest of 7 members of the Hamedan’s Baha’i Spiritual Assembly in 1980. 

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 religious  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. ****

Arrest and detention

Mr. Na’imi was arrested on August 9, or 10, 1980, on an arrest warrant issued by the Revolutionary Court, and was temporarily released on August 11, and told to return in three days. Before the end of the 3-day period, however, members of the Islamic Republic of Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps house raided and arrested him and several other members of the Hamedan Baha’i Spiritual Assembly on August 13, 1980. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, Iran Wire). 

Mr. Na’imi spent 21 days at the Revolutionary Guards detention center and was subsequently transferred to the Police Force prison. He endured physical torture during detention. Mr. Na’imi was denied visitations for 3 months after his arrest. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran). His and his co-defendants’ cell was located next to the ward toilets and was so small that they had to take turns sleeping. According to handwritten notes obtained from one of Mr. Na’imi’s co-defendants, they were incarcerated in a dirty and polluted environment and were deprived of the most basic health and hygiene requirements, including “showering”. According to this person, in order to combat lice and other pollutants, they used [bleach, detergents,] and heavy duty chemical cleansers multiple times a day. (Iran Wire). 

Mr. Na’imi’s and his co-defendants’ families wrote numerous letters to Iran’s government officials and judicial authorities in order to have them lift their visitation ban. According to the families of Mr. Na’imi’s co-defendants, the prison guards did not allow the prisoners and their families to speak to one another in their first visitation. Mr. Na’imi and his ward mates were allowed two visitations per week with their families. (Iran Wire). 

According to the spouse of one of Mr. Na’imi’s co-defendants, in the first two weeks of visitations, only the prisoners’ children were permitted to visit with their fathers; thereafter, their spouses were allowed visitation as well. Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants were kept in the general ward for four months and were then transferred to the political prisoners ward. (Martyrs of the Baha’i Faith Facebook page, Martyrs of the Baha’i Faith weblog). 

Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants had their last visitation with their families on June 11, 1981. Their families described them as being of strong spirit, calm and patient. (Iran Wire).


In January-February 1981, Hamedan Islamic Revolutionary Court individually tried Mr. Na’imi and several of his co-defendants. (Iran Wire). They were summoned to court for a final time in the third week of March 1981. (Iran Wire).

The judge had told Mr. Na’imi and his friends: “No matter how much we investigated, we could not obtain any evidence against you. The objective is for you to become Moslems, to convert to Islam, and be freed.”

Some of the information regarding trial sessions was obtained from one of Mr. Na’imi’s co-defendants’ handwritten notes. According to these notes, in addition to the charges officially brought against the defendants in the indictment, they were also questioned about their religious beliefs. (Baha’is in the Media).

Mr. Na’imi did not have access to an attorney.


The charges brought against Mr. Na’imi were “cooperation with the Pahlavi regime (the pre-1979 Revolution Monarchy) and having connections to the SAVAK (the Shah’s secret police); espionage; enmity with Islam; propaganda, conspiracy, and rising up against the Islamic Republic; dissemination of falsehoods and causing apprehension in the public’s mind; instigating Baha’is to tell lies and pretend to be victims; proselytizing the Baha’i faith; sending money to the State if Israel; and hiding documents”. (Iran Wire; Ettela’at newspaper, June 17, and July 9, 1981).

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

Evidence of guilt

Mr. Na’imi’s membership in the Hamedan Spiritual Assembly; court testimony of several witnesses; the Assembly’s administrative letters and correspondence; the Health and Hygiene Ministry’s letter of February 1980 to Dr. Na’imi regarding phone conversations conducted from his place of work with the United States in 1978-79; were among the evidence said to have been used against Mr. Na’imi. (Iran Wire; Ettela’at newspaper, July 9, 1981; Tebyan website).

At the close of the trial’s final session, the judge had told him and the other defendants in the case: “No matter how much we investigated, we could not obtain any evidence against you. The objective is for you to become Moslems, to convert to Islam, and be freed.” (Iran Wire).


According to the writings of one of Mr. Na’imi’s co-defendants, after the first trial sessions and upon hearing the indictment, they asked the prison warden to allow them to meet with their families and their attorneys. They were denied that request. According to this individual, they were under very strict control not to have any contact with the outside. (Iran Wire). 

According to one of the defendants, an eyewitness had stated in a letter submitted to the court that the testimony of witnesses against the defendants was fabricated, and had stated that in order to encourage people to testify against Baha’is, they were told that such testimony constituted “atonement for their sins”. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran). 

Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants prepared their defense in a very limited time, on the basis of a copy of the indictment. They talked about the right to freedom of belief in their brief, referencing Koranic verses and the Constitution***** of the Islamic Republic. In the opinion of Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants, “searches of the homes” of the arrestees and other members of the Assembly, and “seizure” of their religious books (related to the Baha’i faith) and not returning them, were instances of “inquisition”. They wrote: “Such conditions and ways (inquisition into people’s beliefs and their harassment because of their religion) would harm people’s beliefs and the foundations of society more than they would harm Baha’is.” Regarding [the charge of] “cooperation with the Pahlavi regime and connections to the SAVAK” cited in the indictment, they stated in the brief that the Assembly’s correspondence with the Police and the SAVAK was to “ask for redress” for the harassment [of Baha’is]. Furthermore, they denied the charge of “espionage”. Regarding the charge of “sending money to the State of Israel”, they explained that Baha’is choosing the state of Israel was not of their volition and that they had been forced to do so due to their religious leader having been exiled to that country. They further stated that sending money there was part of their right to “freedom of religion” and performance of religious rites, and that those sums of money were Baha’is’ religious donations for the purpose of expenditure at Baha’i religious centers in the cities of Akka and Haifa, located in Israel. In response to the charge of “hiding documents”, they stated that documents existing at the Baha’i Assembly were discarded after 5 years “just like all administrations”, and that the documents pertaining to the last years were submitted to the court. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran). 

In refuting the charges, Mr. Na’imi’s and the other defendants’ families had written letters to government officials and judicial authorities such as the Shari’a judge and the Office of the President; there were no responses to these letters. (Iran Wire).

A Summary of the Legal Defects in Mr. Na'imi's Case

After the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian judicial system underwent radical changes as a consequence of the influence of the newly installed Islamic ideology. As a result, many of the fair trial guarantees that existed in the laws at the time were abolished. This was particularly true and most visible in the case of Revolutionary Courts, which had been established by order of the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and had no basis in law. The judges in these courts were selected from among clerics with ties to the regime, with absolutely no experience in administering justice. The proceedings in these courts were conducted on the basis of the rules of Islamic law, or Shari’a, and the judges were called Shari’a judges. As a result of these circumstances, the standards and principles of fair trial were disregarded, particularly in political and security-related cases.

Like thousands of other cases, the present case was subjected to those circumstances as well. In this case, the Shari’s judge tried the defendant on the charge of “Moharebeh” (“waging war against God”), whereas no such crime existed, nor was it so defined in any of the laws in force at the time; the judges charging defendants with “Moharebeh” in various cases, relied on and cited religious texts in deducing said crime. Even in religious (Shari’a) texts, “Moharebeh” consists of an instance where an individual takes up arms as part of a group, and deprives a large number of the populace of their safety and security. In the present case, there is no sign of the use of arms anywhere; further, the defendant’s actions in no way caused the public’s general deprivation of security.

One of the charges brought against the defendant is “espionage on behalf of Israel”. Espionage occurs when an individual puts classified documents and information at the disposal of persons not entitled to receive such documents and information. The defendant in this case was in no way in a position to have access to classified documents, nor had the court made such a claim, according to available information.

Among other charges brought against the defendant was proselytizing the Baha’i religion. This charge too was neither defined as a crime in the laws in force at the time, nor in religious laws. Pursuant to criminal law, a “thought” can never be criminalized. Even if an individual has a criminal thought but has not acted upon or made preparation toward the implementation thereof, such individual is not a criminal and cannot be tried solely on the basis of a criminal thought. In the present case, the defendant was tried for his belief in the Baha’i faith and/or proselytizing thereof. The Iranian Constitution expressly provides for the freedom of thought and belief, and no one can be questioned for holding a particular belief.

According to available information, the defendant did not have access to an attorney. Furthermore, according to certain published accounts, he was beaten and tortured at various times and in different phases of the proceedings.

Generally, the principles of fair trial were violated in this case, both from a substantive as well as a procedural standpoint. It appears that such a trial was conducted not based on laws but on attaining certain political and revolutionary objectives.

One of the other charges brought against the defendant is cooperation with the Pahlavi regime, whereas, since the defendant worked at the Health Ministry prior to the Revolution, it is obvious that he worked with the government then in place; however, such cooperation was strictly in the performance of his duties and had nothing to do with security-related or political issues. 


Hamedan Revolutionary Court sentenced Mr. Firuz Na’imi and 6 of his co-defendants to death on the charge of “Moharebeh (“waging war”) against God and God’s Messenger”.  The sentence was upheld by the Judicial High Council. 

On the morning of June 14, 1981, Mr. Firuz Na’imi and 6 other individuals were executed in Hamedan. 

Two years prior to Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants’ execution, governmental authorities had gone to their homes in order to expropriate their property. (Iran Wire). 

Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants had been called upon to be taken for the implementation of their sentence on June 10; a few hours later, however, prison officials told them that the program had changed. On June 13, when they were informed for a second time that they were to be executed, Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants proceeded to first clean and wash themselves, and then put their personal effects in order. According to their ward mates, they were calm, smiling, and praying until the last moment. (Iran Wire). According to a handwritten note left behind by one of Mr. Na’imi’s co-defendants, prison officials did not allow him and his co-defendants to meet with the Shari’a judge and the court judges. According to this person, the latter officials were not present at the site of the execution. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran). 

According to persons close to Mr. Na’imi, the [city of] Shiraz Revolutionary Court had issued an order of release for Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants in March 1981. However, immediately after its issuance at the court session, this order was disregarded and violated by local and state officials. According to one of Mr. Na’imi’s ward mates, that order was never shown to them. (Iran Wire). 

Citing the signs of injuries on the bodies and the testimony of an eyewitness, Mr. Na’imi’s and his co-defendants’ families believe that they were killed slowly and gradually while facing each other. According to Mr. Na’imi’s family, signs of beatings and wounds caused by machete were visible on his body, including on his forehead. They also observed signs of burns on his back, and stated that Mr. Na’imi’s back had been broken. (Andalib, Winter 1990; Iran Wire). 

Hamedan Prison officials had piled up Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants’ bodies on top of each other in a room at Hamedan’s Imam Khomeini Hospital, where two of the people executed worked. (Andalib, Winter 1990). A hospital employee informed their families of the presence of the bodies at the hospital (Andalib, Winter 1990; Iran Wire). Hospital officials initially refused to provide an ambulance to take the bodies for burial. Ultimately, they provided them with one that was so old and beaten up that some of the windows were broken. According to several eyewitnesses, there was a large crowd gathered at Mr. Na’imi and his co-defendants’ funeral, which slowed down the movement of the ambulance to the burial site. One week after their burial, their graves were destroyed. (Iran Wire). 

Mr. Na’imi left a last will and testament behind that was written half an hour before midnight of June 13, 1980. In it, he addressed his wife: “I am happy that I drink from the [proverbial] cup of martyrdom, believing in the holy Baha’i religion, and I will no longer be causing you any problems. Do not be sad for not seeing me anymore.” (Iran Wire). 


* Messers: Hossein KhandalHossein MotlaqTarazollah KhozainNaser Vafa'iMohammad (Sohrab) Habibiand Mohammad Baqer (Soheil) Habibi.
** The affairs of the Baha’i’ community are administered through a system of institutions, each with its defined sphere of action. At the local level, the affairs of the Baha’i’ community are administered by the “Local Spiritual Assembly”. Each Local Assembly consists of nine members who are chosen in annual elections. At the national level, the affairs of the Baha’i’ community are administered by the “National Spiritual Assembly”, a nine-member elected council responsible for guiding, coordinating, and stimulating the activities of Local Spiritual Assemblies and individual members of the Baha’i’ community within a given country.
*** ‘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 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.”
***** Article 23 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran; “The investigation of individuals' beliefs is forbidden, and no one may be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.” 

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