Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Ali Reza’i


Age: 27
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: December 6, 1979
Location of Killing: 3-Rah e Bazaar, Qom, Markazi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting

About this Case

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Ali Reza’i was published in several sources, including Ettela’at Newspaper (December 6 and 8, 1979) and Kayhan Newspaper (December 6 and 11, 1979).  Additional information regarding his death was collected from Kayhan Newspaper (December 8 and 18, 1979), Ettela’at Newspaper (December 9, 1979 and April 5, 1980), and research done by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center.

Mr. Reza’i was 27. He was from the town of AzarShahr in Azarbaijan Sharqi Province (Ettela’at Newspaper December 6, 1979).  (Kayhan Newspaper December 18, 1979). 

The Muslim People's Republic Party

The Muslim People's Republic Party (MPRP), more commonly known as the Moslem People’s Party, was founded in March 1979 with the blessing and support of the influential Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Kazem Shariatmadari. The aim of the MPRP’s founding members, which included Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s son, Hassan, was to bring together more enlightened Muslim forces and work towards an ideal progressive society. Its guiding principles were written with an eye to ensuring the guidance of Islam in all aspects of life, the immutable role of citizens’ voices in shaping and running their own government, and the sovereignty of the Islamic Republic on the global stage. (1) The party was based in Tabriz and had a strong and diverse following in Western and Eastern Azerbaijan, as well as in cities such as Qom, Tehran, Ardebil and Mashhad. (2)

The MPRP called on its members to vote yes in the March 1979 Referendum to establish an Islamic Republic, but criticized the absence of the rule of law and abuses of power by some of Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters. Chief among the galvanizing forces for the party of Shariatmadari’s followers was opposition to the concept of velayat-e faqih (guardianship of the theologian), which, if written into the constitution, would place ultimate executive power in the hands of the Supreme Leader.  Though some of the party’s founding members would resign after its decision to boycott the August 1979 election of the Assembly of Constitutional Experts – a cleric-contingent governing body supplanting the anticipated, more representative constitutive assembly – the MPRP movement maintained the solidarity and numbers necessary to make heard their demands of increased local autonomy in Azerbaijan, popular sovereignty, and corresponding revisions to the constitution.  In December of 1979, the party boycotted the referendum on the draft constitution, and continued after the referendum to advocate for changes to key constitutional articles.

Starting in December of 1979 and for close to six weeks, demonstrations in support of the MPIRP and Ayatollah Shariatmadari clashed with Ayatollah Khomeini’s followers and the provisional government, as the latter moved swiftly to quash the former’s influence across Iran. Due to its history of embattled minority rights, Azerbaijan was a particular hotspot for escalating conflicts over constitutional representation. Ayatollah Shariatmadari had strong support among armed forces there, and MPRP was demanding that he vet the nominations of local officials. Nonetheless, the MPIRP’s influence was far from localized, and Ayatollah Khomeini’s cohort would aggressively suppress it. A convergence of pro-Shariatmadari demonstrators and pro-Khomeini counter protesters outside Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s house in Qom on December 5 ended in the shooting death of one of Shariatmadari’s guards; systematic censorship of Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s statements in the media led to MPRP takeovers of government buildings and the National Broadcasting station in Tabriz December 6 - 11, amid clashes that killed and wounded several people. Widespread unrest continued as Ayatollah Khomeini and the Revolutionary Council continued to ignore MPRP demands. By January of 1980, government forces had managed to crush the swell of the MPRP, killing at least 20 and injuring hundreds in the process The party was banned and scores of its members executed, imprisoned, or forced into exile.(3)

Background of Extrajudicial Killings by the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Islamic Republic of Iran has a long history of politically motivated violence in Iran and around the world. Ever since the 1979 Revolution, Islamic Republic operatives inside and outside the country have engaged in kidnapping, disappearing, and killing a large number of individuals whose activities they deemed undesirable. The actual number of the victims of extrajudicial killings inside Iran is not clear; however, these murders began in February 1979, and have continued during the existence of the Islamic Republic both inside and outside Iran. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has identified over 540 murders outside Iran attributed to the Islamic Republic of Iran. (4)

Opponents of the Islamic Republic have been assassinated by the agents of the Islamic Republic in various ways outside Iran, in countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, India, and Pakistan in Asia; Dubai, Iraq, and Turkey in the Middle East; Cyprus, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Great Britain in Europe; and the United States across the Atlantic Ocean. In most cases, not much information has been published about these murders and local officials have not issued any arrest warrants. Documentation, evidence, and traces obtained through investigations conducted by local police and judicial authorities confirm, however, the theory of state committed crimes. In certain cases, these investigations have resulted in the expulsion (The Netherlands, 2018) or arrest (Brussels, 2020; Turkey, 2021) of Iranian diplomats. In limited cases outside Iran, the perpetrators of these murders have been arrested and put on trial (Paris 1980 and 1991) and the evidence presented, revealed the defendants’ connection to Iran’s government institutions, and an arrest warrant (the Mikonos Trial in Germany) has been issued for Iran’s then-Minister of Information.

The manner in which these killings were organized and implemented in Iran and abroad, is indicative of a single pattern which, according to Roland Chatelin, the Swiss prosecutor, contains common parameters and detailed planning. It can be ascertained from the similarities between these murders in different countries that the Iranian government is the principal entity who ordered the implementation of these crimes. (5).  Iranian authorities have not officially accepted responsibility for these murders and have even attributed their commission to their opposition. Nevertheless, since the very inception of the Islamic Republic regime, the Islamic Republic officials have justified these crimes from an ideological and legal standpoint. In the spring of 1979, Sadeq Khalkhali, the first Chief Shari’a Judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Courts, officially announced the regime’s decision to implement extrajudicial executions, and justified the decision: “ … These people have been sentenced to death; from the Iranian people’s perspective, if someone wants to assassinate these individuals abroad, in any country, no government has any right to bring the perpetrator to trial as a terrorist, because such a person is the implementing agent of the sentence issued by the Islamic Revolutionary Court. Therefore, they are Mahduroddam (“one whose blood may be spilled, whose life can be taken, without the perpetrator incurring any punishment”) and their sentence is death regardless of where they are [and where you find them].” More than 10 years after these proclamations, in a speech talking about the security forces’ success, Ali Fallahian, the regime’s Minister of Information stated the following regarding the elimination of members of the opposition: “ … We have had success in inflicting damage to many of these little groups outside the country and on our borders.” (Speech broadcast on the state-run Iranian Radio and Television on August 31, 1992, quoted from Asr Iran, August 17, 2006; and Ali Arabshahi Facebook Page, June 17, 2013).

Extrajudicial killings have rarely been legally followed up on in Iran. The few murders that were followed up on in 1998 and came to be known as “the Serial Murders” (6) have brought to light the involvement and responsibility of the country’s Information officials. Several Ministry of Information agents who were defendants in the Serial Murders case, confirmed the existence of a long term government policy of extrajudicial killings and emphasized that there was planning on an annual basis to carry out these executions, that there was a budget allocated and there were objectives set, and those who participated in the murders were commended. In a lecture given at [the city of] Hamedan’s Bu Ali University in 1996, Sa’eed Emami, Ministry of Information Deputy Minister for Security Affairs and one of the principal defendants in the Serial Murders case – who was said by Iranian officials to have committed suicide while in detention – had stressed that the activities of Iran’s security forces were not confined to the country’s borders: “ … We have set the security perimeter within the confines of our borders. [However,] if we see threats infiltrating inside the country from abroad, we will enlarge the perimeter.” He had also emphasized that he had said the following to the head of another country’s intelligence services regarding the murder of political opponents by forces affiliated with the Islamic Republic: “Of course we killed them. Not just the Monafeqin (MKO) but people from other groups as well.” (Blogger news, 2008-09). Although he had stated in that conversation that the assassinations were related to whether the victims were armed or not, nevertheless, the killing of opponents was not limited to persons affiliated with armed groups and included a wide array of opponents and dissenters, and even non-political individuals.

In his confession in the course of interrogations related to the killing of Mr. Dariush Foruhar, Ms. Parvaneh Eskandari, Mr. Mohammad Jafar Puyandeh, and Mr. Mohammad Mokhtari in 1998 to December 2000, contained in a one thousand-page file (that had been put at the disposal of the plaintiffs and their attorneys for a short time), Rasul Katuzian (Rasuli), the Ministry of Information Deputy Minister for Security Affairs’ General Director for Operations Support had provided the following explanation regarding the background for such murders in the Ministry’s operational plans: “ … Every year, in devising the work plan that was approved by the then Minister, one or several physical elimination cases were planned and would subsequently get to the Minister’s office, and the eliminations were carried out over the course of the year, most of which would be cause for commendations and praise.” Furthermore, Asghar Eskandari (Sayahi), a staff member of the Ministry of Information’s Operations Division stated in this regard: “ … These types of actions were part of the [Information] Ministry’s routine operations and therefore, it wasn’t my first time either. We were familiar with [these types of killings] several years prior to the eliminations that came to be known as the Serial Murders, so much so that in the course of the annual planning, kidnappings and eliminations were slated as the most distinctive actions. These plans still exist in the [Ministry’s] documents and archives in written form …” (7) (Marze Porgohar Party (quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021).

In their confessions, the Serial Murders defendants stated that they had a religious decree [issued by a cleric authorized to issue such orders] for carrying out the murders. In his confession, Omid Hamidi who worked at the [Ministry’s] Office of the Deputy for Security Affairs, alluded to meetings convened for the “elimination” of individuals and emphasized: “I carried out my duties in implementing the decrees.” He also stated that the Ministry’s officials and deputies, including the people in charge of the Operations Division, were informed of his activities in killing opponents. Mehdi Zolfaqar, another Ministry of Information employee, talked in his confession about the hierarchical nature of the implementation of the murders and described the procedure as “one ordered by the superiors; intelligence work requires that action be taken in accordance with the superior’s orders, [there are no] explanations, [you don’t ask] questions and [you’re not given any] answers.” (8) (Marze Porgohar Party, quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021). 

Mr. Reza’i’s Death

Mr. Reza’i was killed with a gunshot, at 11 pm, on December 5, 1979, as he was patrolling the roof of Mr. Shari’atmadari’s home (Kayhan, December 6, 1979). 

There were gatherings and demonstrations in the vicinity of Mr. Shari’atmadari’s home, located at Se Rahe Bazaar in Qom. Violent altercations ensued between demonstrators and Mr. Shari’atmadari’s supporters. During these events, while Mr. Reza’i was guarding the rooftop of Mr. Shari’atmadari’s home, he was shot from behind and wounded. He was taken to Sahamiye Hospital in Qom, and passed away a few hours later (Kayhan, December 6, 1979).

Officials’ Reaction

At 7:30 am, on December 15, 1979, members of the Revolutionary Guards in Qom arrested one of the security guards at Mr. Shari’atmadari’s home on the charge of murdering Mr. Reza’i. After interrogation, they delivered him to the Revolutionary Court in Qom (Kayhan, December 18, 1979). The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Qom, after four trial sessions, sentenced charged the defendant in this case with unintentional murder and sentenced him to 100 thousand tomans in blood money to be paid to the victim's family. He was released after paying the money on February 17, 1980. When this suspect was released, the Revolutionary Guards published an announcement, in which they objected to the court's ruling and his release from jail (Kayhan, December 18, 1979).

Ettele’at Newspaper reported that members of the Special Task Force of the Imam Committee arrested an officer of the Pahlavi Era. He was accused of participating in an attack by parachuting commandos on the home of Mr. Shari’atmadarai in Qom (Ettela’at, April 5, 1980).

After the incidents leading to demonstrations and the attack on the home of Mr. Shari’atmadari, Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, the Shari’a judge of the Revolutionary Courts, published an announcement. He condemned these demonstrations and subsequent attack and denied the rumors of his own participation in these events (Ettela’at, December 9, 1979).

The Muslim People's Republic Party’s Reaction

The Moslem People’s Party published a statement in which they condemned the attack on Mr. Shari’atmadari’s home and the killing of Mr. Reza’i. They further announced: “This action should have further informed the noble people of Iran as to the character and corruption of those who were responsible for planning and carrying out this conspiracy.  This unfortunate incident is a blot on the struggles of the Iranian nation.” (Kayhan December 6, 1979).

This Party held a memorial meeting for Mr. Reza’i, at the home of Mr. Shari’atmadari’s home, at 9 am, on December 7, 1979. (Kayhan, December 8, 1979) 

Familys’ Reaction

There is no information on Mr. Rezai’s family’s reaction.

Impacts on Family

There is no information on the impact of the assassination of Mr. Reza’i on his family.


*Seyed Mohammad Kazem Hosseini Shari’atmadari, also known as “Seyyed Kazem Shari’atmadari” was born in Tabriz on January 5, 1906.  Ayatollah Shari’atmadari was one of the high-ranking Shia sources of emulation in the town of Qom.  He established the “Islamic Teaching Center” in Qom and was a supporter of the Iranian Moslem People’s Party.  In 1983, he was accused of knowing about and of having funded and politically supported the Sadeq Qotbzadeh coup d’etat.  The Society of Seminary Teachers of Qom abrogated his authority for emulation, and after that he was put under house arrest.  After suffering a period of illness, Ayatollah Shari’atmadari passed away at Mehrad Hospital in Tehran, on April 3, 1986.
(1) The MPRP stressed the need for political, economic, and ideological independence from the West and the East. It called for a less centralized government, increased autonomy for minorities, major reforms of Iran’s economy prioritizing the army and education system, and the eradication of corruption and poverty. It called for better coordination between the army and other Muslim forces whose main and only task it viewed to be defense of Iran’s borders. In foreign policy, the MPRP called for mutually respectful relations with all friendly governments and collaboration with Muslim countries. https://andisheh-haghdar.blogspot.com/2020/06/blog-post.html
(2) https://andisheh-haghdar.blogspot.com/2020/06/blog-post.html
(3) Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who, according to his son, had called on his followers to avoid tensions and cease protesting in order to avoid bloodshed, saw his activities restricted once the Revolutionary Council had successfully consolidated its hold. He was eventually defrocked and put under house arrest in April 1982. While under house arrest, he was denied access to a hospital for critical treatment of cancer which metastasized and took his life in 1986.
(4) Among the first known murders that occurred a week after the February 1979 Revolution was that of Mr. Parviz (Arastu) Sayyah Sina, the bishop of a church in the city of Shiraz. The assassination of Mr. Shahriar Shafiq, an Imperial Navy officer, in December 1979 in Paris is among the first murders committed by the Islamic Republic of Iran outside the country. Among the latest known extrajudicial killings, as of the time of this report in November 2021, is the assassination of Mohammad Ebrahim Safizadeh, a Sunni Islam cleric, on May 19, 2019, in the city of Herat in Afghanistan, and the murder of Massud Molavi Vardanjani, a former associate of security organs and the administrator of the Telegram Social Network channel called “Ja’beh-ye Siah” (“Black Box”) on November 14, 2019, in Istanbul, Turkey.
(5) Investigations into the murder of well-known personalities in France, Germany and Switzerland have yielded evidence and documentation showing that the officials and employees of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran acted as accomplices and principals [in the killings]. In France, the Islamic Republic’s Deputy Minister of Post and Telegraph was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for the murder of two individuals. In Germany (Berlin), the Islamic Republic’s security agents and agents of the Lebanese Hezbollah were sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of four Iranian opponents of the regime. In connection with the latter case, German Judicial authorities issued an international arrest warrant for Ali Fallahian, the then-Minister of Information. The Berlin Criminal Court, in charge of hearing the case, officially announced that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s highest-ranking officials had issued the order to carry out the killings. According to the indictment presented in said Court, the decision to commit the murders was made in a committee called the “Special Operations Committee” composed of the President, the Minister of Information and Security (VAVAK), the Minister of Foreign Affairs, representatives of the various security organs and other organizations, and finally, the Leader of the Revolution.
(6) A few days before Mr. Mokhtari’s murder, Dariush Foruhar and his wife, Parvaneh Eskandari, leaders of the People of Iran Party, had been killed in a most heinous manner in their own home. After Mr. Mokhtari’s body was found, the body of Mohammad Ja’far Puyandeh, another well-known literary figure, was discovered in a village near the city of Karaj. These four individuals’ cases was named the “Serial Murders”.
(7) According to Mostafa Noruzi (Mohseni), one of the employees of the Operations Division of the Ministry of Information’s Office of the Deputy Minister for Security Affairs, “ … I must say that the task of physical elimination and other similar work, [such as] the arrest and transfer of the defendant, self-defense and physical training, constant surveillance, etc., had been set and assigned to us by the Ministry [of Information], and these tasks were part of our duties … And generally speaking, these types of work were done a lot in the Ministry [of Information], whether abroad or inside the country; and it was only in this particular case [the murder of Parvaneh Eskandari and Dariush Foruhar] that things turned out this way”. Ali Safa’ee (Mohammad Hosseini), an employee of the Operations Division of the Ministry of Information’s Office of the Deputy Minister for Security Affairs has stated: “It was around 1986 or 1987 that … I came to the Ministry [of Information’s] Operations [Division] and started working as a team member, and became an operations expert in operations for the arrest, kidnapping, and physical elimination of teams of Monafeqin (MKO), and [the identification and] destruction of the Monafeqin, anti-revolutionaries, and opponents of the regime collective houses.”
(8) Ali Safa’ee (Mohammad Hosseini), who was identified in confessions related to the Serial Murders as an operations expert and the person who had played a role in the “kidnapping and physical elimination of teams of Monafeqin (MKO)”, has stated: “All physical elimination tasks were performed on orders of the superiors … and everybody knew about it because it was clear from the speeches they gave that they knew about it.” (Marze Porgohar Party (quoted in Pezhvak-e Iran, August 3, 2021).

Correct/ Complete This Entry