Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Hidayatu'llah Dihqani


Age: 59
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: March 16, 1981
Location of Killing: Abdollah Mesgar Garrison (Chogan Square), Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Religious offense
Age at time of alleged offense: 59

About this Case

Mr. Dehqani was a reputable businessman and an active member of the Baha’is’ organizations.

News of the execution of Mr. Hedayatollah Dehqani (also spelled "Hidayatu'llah Dihqani"), son of Soghra and Nasrollah, was submitted to the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center through electronic form on March 17, 2020, by a person close to him. (Electronic form). News of this execution and that of one other individual was also published in Kayhan and Jomhuri-e Eslami newspapers on March 18, 1981, quoting an announcement by the city of Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court. Additional information about this case was obtained from Ettela’at newspaper (August 19, 1980), his child’s Facebook post (March 17, 2016), Martyrs of the Baha’i Faith website (March 6, 2013), and from Mr. Mehrak Kamali’s article entitled “Baha’is and Execution after the Revolution” (June 19, 2019).

Mr. Hedayatollah Dehqani was one of the 206 individuals whose name was published in the Worldwide Baha’i Community’s 1999 report. This report, entitled The Baha’i Question: Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community”, dealt with the persecution of members of the Baha’i faith in Iran by the Islamic Republic, and contained a list of Baha’is who were killed in Iran since 1979.

Mr. Dehqani was born in a Baha’i family in the town of Abadeh’s Kushkak village in Fars Province. He was married and had six children. Mr. Dehqani had a high school diploma and was engaged in trade and agriculture. He was a reputable businessman and an active member of the Baha’is’ organizations.

Mr. Dehqani was the head of Abadeh County’s Baha’i Spiritual Assembly. He was the head of the village and respected by all the people. His friends have said that “his vast knowledge of [Baha’i legal tenets], phenomenal memory, sense of humor, way with words, and kindness” were among his main character traits.

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. Dehqani was arrested in [the town of] Abadeh at 5 o’clock in the afternoon on August 8, 1980, by Abadeh County Revolutionary Guards Corps. Three other Baha’is from Abadeh County were arrested along with him. (Ettela’at newapaper, August 19, 1980).

Mr. Dehqani spent 7 months and 9 days in detention at Shiraz’ Adelabad Prison. He spent 2 days at the Abadeh County jail, three days at the Revolutionary Guards interrogation center, and the rest of his incarceration at Shiraz’ Adelabad Prison. He was allowed visitation with his family six days after his arrest, and thereafter, the family visited him once a week from behind a glass window through the phone. (Electronic form).


Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court tried Mr. Dehqani. He was denied access to an attorney. No information is available about the details of the trial session(s).


The charges brought against Mr. Dehqani were “contact with Colonel Vahdat (Colonel Vahdat was a deputy member of the Kushkak Baha’i Spiritual Assembly) and cooperating in converting Moslems into Baha’is and perverting and misleading uninformed individuals, especially villagers; contacting 250 village heads, sheriffs, and leaders of Fars region tribes and recording government officials’ phone conversations; intimidating Baha’is who had found the path of righteousness in Islam; being active in Abadeh’s Baha’i [Spiritual] Assembly; and receiving a commendation letter from the Baha’is Assembly”.

The electronic form states the charges brought against Mr. Dehqani as “Baha’ism; membership in Baha’i organizations; proselytizing the Baha’i faith; sending money to and recording government conversations [for the benefit of] Israel”.

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial.  International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic authorities have brought trumped-up charges, including drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences, against their opponents (including political, civil society activists, as well as unionists and ethnic and religious minorities). Each year Iranian authorities sentence to death hundreds of alleged common criminals, following judicial processes that fail to meet international standards. The exact number of people convicted and executed based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

The evidence presented against Mr. Dehqani was stated to have been “discovery of books, writings, cash, and his confession”. (Ettela’at newspaper, August 19, 1980).

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress.


No information is available on Mr. Dehqani’s defense.

A Summary of the Legal Defects in the Adjudication of Mr. Hedayatollah Dehqani’s Case

After the 1979 Revolution, Iran’s judicial system underwent tremendous changes that were based on [the new regime’s] ideological worldview. Because of these changes, many of the fair trial guarantees existing in Iranian law were simply scrapped. This was particularly the case in revolutionary courts that were instituted pursuant to a decree issued by the Leader of the Revolution and had no basis in law. The judges sitting on the bench in revolutionary courts were chosen mostly from among clerics affiliated with and loyal to the government, and had no judicial experience whatsoever. In these courts, trials took place based on Islamic laws and regulations, and the judge was called the Shari’a Judge [or Ruler]. These conditions resulted in violations of due process and the principles of fair trial, particularly in political and security-related cases.

The Defendant in the present case also fell victim to those same conditions, much like thousands of other cases. In this case, the Shari’a Judge tried the Defendant on the charge of Moharebeh (“waging war against God”) and Efsad fel-Arz, whereas no such crime was defined anywhere in the criminal laws of the time. Judges derived that crime from religious texts. Even in religious texts, however, Moharebeh consists of an act where an individual takes up arms within a group, and deprives a large segment of the populace of their safety and security. There was no sign or evidence of any use of weapons in this case. Furthermore, the defendants’ actions did not result in the people being deprived of security in any way whatsoever.

According to available information, the charges brought against Mr. Dehqani are stated to have been cooperating in converting Moslems into Baha’is and perverting and misleading uninformed individuals, especially villagers; contacting 250 village heads, sheriffs, and leaders of Fars region tribes and recording government officials’ phone conversations; intimidating Baha’is who had found the path of righteousness in Islam; being active in Abadeh’s Baha’i [Spiritual] Assembly; and receiving a commendation letter from the Baha’is Assembly. Regardless of whether these are allegations were true or not, they certainly could not be considered as criminal because [none of them,] proselytizing Baha’ism, for instance, had not been defined as crimes either in the laws in force at the time or in Shari’a tenets.

Pursuant to basic principles of criminal law, thought is not considered a crime under any circumstances whatsoever. Even if a person has criminal thoughts but those thoughts are not acted upon, or the person does not make preparations for the commission of the crime, he/she is not a criminal and may not be tried solely for having criminal thoughts. In the present case, one can observe that the Defendant was tried for his belief in the Baha’i faith. The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran provides that individuals have freedom of belief and one cannot be questioned for a holding a particular belief.

Representatives of the Baha’i community have consistently denied charges such as anti-revolutionary political activity or espionage brought against Baha’is in court proceedings, and stress that the fundamental tenets of their faith require loyalty to and obedience of the government in place, prohibiting them from engaging in any political activities and matters. These representatives further state that spying for Israel is another unfounded allegation, the basis of which is the fact that the Baha’is’ world headquarters is located in that country, whereas the headquarters were established there in the late 19thcentury, decades before the establishment of the State of Israel.


Shiraz Islamic Revolutionary Court found Mr. Hedayatollah Dehqani “Mofsed (“one who spreads corruption [on Earth]”) and Mohareb (“one who wages war”) against God, the Prophet, and the Imam of Time (the Twelfth and last Imam in the line of descendants from the Prophet Mohammad in the Shiite tradition, who is absent and will return at the appropriate time)” and sentenced him to death. The sentence was upheld by the Judicial High Court.

On March 16, 1981, Mr. Dehqani and one other individual were executed at Shiraz’ Chogan Square (Mesgar Military Base) with three bullets to the head, heart, and testicles.

On March 18, 1981, Tehran’s Baha’is protested these executions in a telegram and condemned the officials “for their silence” as well as their “Islamic justice”. The telegram read in part: “… Baha’is believe that God Almighty will not forgive a single person for committing injustice … Decide, once and for all, what you wish to do with this oppressed community; either mass murder them all and consider it Islamic justice, or recognize them as a religious minority and allow them a minimum of human and social rights.”


* ‘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.”

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