Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Goldaneh Yusefi (Alipur)

About

Age: 64
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: December 23, 1982
Location of Killing: Roshankuh, Sari, Mazandaran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial killing
Charges: Religious offense
Age at time of offense: 64

About this Case

Ms. Yusefi was born a Moslem but had converted to Baha’ism prior to the February 1979 Islamic Revolution. The persecution of Ms. Yusefi and her family began in the aftermath of the Revolution. 

Information regarding the murder of Ms. Goldaneh Yusefi (Alipur) was obtained from the Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran website (June 18, 2020) and Mr. Adel Shafipur’s account in Andalib magazine (Volume 33, Winter 1990). Additional information was obtained from Radio Zamaneh, an interview with Ms. Badi’i, a Baha’i adherent from Mazandaran Province who wrote her college thesis regarding the history of Baha’ism in the village of Roshan Kuh in Mazandaran Province. (October 4, 2008).

Ms. Yusefi was born in Sari County’s village of Sadat Mahalleh, located in Mazandaran Province in a Moslem family. He married a Baha’i man and had three children. They were farmers and livestock breeders.

Ms. Yusefi was a Moslem until the age of 45. Although she did not adhere to the Baha’i faith, she raised her children based on Baha’i principles and tenets. Ms. Yusefi converted to the Baha’i faith in early 1978.

In the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ms. Yusefi, her husband, and her family were persecuted, discriminated against, and even beaten by Moslems on numerous occasions. According to an eyewitness, Ms. Yusefi’s home was attacked by the inhabitants of surrounding villages on numerous occasions: “I saw these savage, cruel, and inhuman acts to a certain extent. For instance, I saw with my own eyes how a small number of [people] would attack this helpless and innocent [family] and would beat these dear people every morning and night; they even burnt a section of the lower body of that dear lady’s grandchild, who was 11 years old, with cigarettes. They even harassed and persecuted her dear husband once, to get him to renounce and curse the Divine Faith; however, when that [courageous and] kind man refused, they urinated on that holy old man as they insulted him, severely beat him again and leaving him for dead.” (Andalib magazine).

In early summer of 1982, several of the inhabitants of the adjacent village mounted an attack on Ms. Yusefi’s home in her village, proceeded to severely beat her and her family, break their doors and windows, and forced them to leave that village. After that attack, Ms. Yusefi’s family took refuge in the village of Roshan Kuh and took up residence there.

Mr. Yusefi is also one of the 206 individuals whose name was published in the Worldwide Baha’i Community’s 1999 report. This report, entitled “Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community”, deals with the persecution of members of the Baha’i faith in Iran by the Islamic Republic, and contains a list of Baha’is who were killed in Iran since 1979.

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.** 

Ms. Yusefi’s Death 

According to available information, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon of December 24, 1982, Ms. Goldaneh Yusefi (Alipur) was attacked by three local people when she was alone in her home. The attackers strangled Ms. Yusefi and proceeded to set her body and her home on fire.

According to Ms. Yusefi’s grandchild, at the time of the incident, “three individuals from Sadat Mahalleh named Seyed Mohammad Andarajani, Goldaneh’s nephew (her sister’s son), Dustali Yusefi, another nephew (her brother’s son), and Hossein Fazlinejad, Dustali Yusefi’s brother-in-law (his wife’s brother), beat Goldaneh with wooden sticks. Then they strangled her with a rope and wrapped her in a blanket, poured gasoline on her dead body and burnt her, and finally set fire to the plastic tent they lived in with all of their belongings inside.” (Radio Zamaneh).

Officials’ Reaction

Following a complaint lodged by Ms. Yusefi’s son, several police officers from the town of Kiasar’s police precinct, as well as the medical examiner, went to the scene of the crime and examined the body and the location, after which the medical examiner issued a death certificate and burial permit. The revolutionary court did not prosecute this murder, however, stating that there were no eyewitnesses present at the time of Ms. Yusefi’s murder. (Andalib magazine).

Ms. Yusefi’s killers were detained in jail for 25 days and were subsequently released on bail with the help and support of a cleric, who was the brother of one of the murderers. They denied having committed murder and stated that their objective was “proselytization and guidance”. (Radio Zamaneh).

Ms. Yusefi’s family identified the killers and filed a complaint against them. The court [dismissed and] closed the case, however, for lack of “eyewitnesses”. The murderers denied having committed murder and stated that their objective was “proselytization and guidance”.

Familys’ Reaction

After the murder, Ms. Yusefi’s son registered a complaint at the town of Kiasar’s police precinct, and the case was examined at the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Ms. Yusefi’s family did not pursue their complaint after the release of the murderers. (Radio Zamaneh).

Impacts on Family

There is no information regarding the effects of this murder on Ms. Yusefi’s family.

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* ‘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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