Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Mohammad Baqer Sadaqiani


Age: 51
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: January 10, 1980
Location of Killing: 33 KM into Ahar- Tabriz Road, Tabriz, Azarbaijan-e Sharqi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial shooting

About this Case

Mr. Sadaqiani, a surgeon and obstetrician, was an assistant professor at Tabriz University, and a follower of Ayatollah Seyed Kazem Shariatmadari. He was a wealthy and charitable individual who treated poor patients for free.

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Mohammad Baqer Sadaqiani was obtained from interviews conducted by the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center with Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s son, Mr. Hassan Shariatmadari (January 7, 2022), with Mr. Ali Asghar Khosravi, a person who knew Mr. Sadaqiani, (April 1, 2021), and with Mr. Mashallah Razmi, a supporter of the Fadaiyan Khalq Guerilla Organization in 1979 (February 3, 2022). Information about this murder was also published in Kayhan, Ettela’at, Jomhuri Eslami, and Enqelab Eslami newspapers on January 12, 1980. Additional information about this case was obtained from Jomhuri Eslami newspaper (January 8, and 10, 1980), Ettela’at newspaper (October 23, 1979; January 14, 15, 16, 19, and 20, 1980; February 19, and May 6, 1980), Kayhan newspaper (January 15, and 20, 1980; May 14, and July 14, 1980), Javanan-e Emrooz magazine (February 25, 1980), the book “Memoirs of Sadeq Khalkhali”, Sayeh Publishing (2000), History Documents Study Center (Document date: July 28, 1968), and the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center research.

Mr. Sadaqiani was 51 years old (April 1, 2021), a gynecologist and obstetrician in the city of Tabriz (Ettela’at newspaper, January 12, 1980), and an assistant professor at Tabriz University (Kayhan newspaper, January 12, 1980). He came from a wealthy and well-known family. The family owned a lighting match manufacturing factory. (Boroumand Center Interview, April 1, 2021).

Mr. Sadaqiani was a follower of Ayatollah Seyed Kazem Shariatmadari, an influential religious leader and Marja’ Taqlid (“source of emulation for his followers”). Mr. Sadaqiani was a charitable individual who would consult Ayatollah Shariatmadari concerning his philanthropic activities. (Boroumand Center Interview, January 7, 2022). According to people who knew Mr. Sadaqiani, he was a “highly respected and reputable” individual and “influential among the people”. (Boroumand Center Interview, January 7, and February 3, 2022). He treated poor patients for free in his office. (Boroumand Center Interview, January 7, 2022). 

Mr. Mohammad Baqer Sadaqiani’s Murder

According to available information, Mr. Mohammad Baqer Sadaqiani was shot dead at 3:30 in the afternoon of January 10, 1980 (Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, January 12, 1980) at a location 33 kilometers (20 miles) from Tabriz on the Ahar-Tabriz road. (Kayhan newspaper, January 12, 1980). Ettela’at newspaper reported three shots and a knife stab had hit Mr. Sadaqiani (Ettela’at newspaper, January 12, 1980), whereas Kayhan newspaper alluded to the firing of six shots. (Kayhan newspaper, January 12, 1980).

According to Mr. Sadaqiani’s family, he left his office located on Shams Tabrizi Street at 2 o’clock in the afternoon of January 10, 1980, after receiving a phone call (Enqelab Eslami newspaper, January 12, 1980) from a person who had asked for his help in treating a “patient in a bad situation”. According to Ettela’at newspaper, Mr. Sadaqiani’s family went to various government departments to obtain information of his whereabouts. At 10 PM on January 10, 1980, the family received a phone call from the Tabriz Prosecutor’s Office instructing them to go to the city’s Medical Examiner’s Office to collect his body.  (Ettela’at newspaper, January 12, 1980).

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon of January 10, 1980, someone contacted Mr. Sadaqiani’s medical practice in the city of Tabriz and asked him to leave the office to treat a patient [on a house call]. He was shot dead at 3:30 in the afternoon at a location 33 kilometers (20 miles) from Tabriz.

The Fajr-e Mostaz’afin Guerilla Organization issued an announcement in which it claimed responsibility for Mr. Sadaqiani’s murder, labelling him a “blood-sucking feudalist”, and further stating:

“ … We witness a different conspiracy in our Islamic country every day, and every day, there is chaos going on.  Capitalist middlemen and bloodsucking feudalists are hard at work, and these traitors to the masses have taken advantage of the toiling people [of this country] through their evil plans, and are instigating them against the Islamic Republic. They pay off thugs and hoodlums to have them attack and violate the people’s lives, property, and [women]. Having found out about [who and what was at] the root of the recent events in Tabriz and Qom, and based on the documentation and evidence obtained from Dr. Sadaqiani, this capitalist affiliated with one of the main operatives of the tragic events of Tabriz and Qom was sentenced to death by the tribunal of the masses on January 9, 1980, and the sentence was carried out at 3:30 in the afternoon of January 10, 1980, on the Ahar Road … Death to crony capitalism and to bloodsucking feudalists.” (Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, January 12, 1980).

Tabriz and Qom Protests of December 1979 and January 1980

The Tabriz and Qom protests took place following the December 2, and 3, 1979 Referendum on the Constitution. The Constitution was the subject of criticism by a wide array of political and religious groups, including Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s supporters, who were worried about the concentration of power in the hands of the clergy and the latter’s immunity from accountability.

In the months following the April 1979 Referendum on the form of the new regime, where Iranians were asked to vote “yes or no to the Islamic Republic”, tensions rose between the ruling revolutionaries and other groups concerning the form and the laws of the new government. Forces loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini, including members of the Council of Revolution – an institution that had started its activities before the Revolution and whose members were appointed by the Leader of the Revolution – tried to silence the opposition by weakening them, carrying out censorship, threats and intimidation, and beatings by groups that had come to be known as Hezbollahi. The Assembly of Constitutional Experts election of August 1979, boycotted by many groups and the Sunni minorities; the quashing of the adherents of the Sunni faith’s protests and of other opposition groups and individuals; the shutting down of newspapers; and the increase in death sentences handed down by revolutionary courts, intensified these tensions. The drafting of the Constitution in three months by a group of clerics who were mostly from the Jomhuri Eslami (“Islamic Republic”) Party and supported the Velayat-e Faqih (“Guardianship, or Rule, of the Religious Scholar”) principle and the rule of the clergy, as well as the haste in carrying out the referendum in early December 1979 – in contravention of the wishes of political parties and religious groups that were demanding time to debate and review the draft – resulted in serious protest demonstrations by Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s supporters in Qom and Tabriz.

Many of the political actors of the time, Ayatollah Shariatmadari being one of the most prominent, were worried about a number of the Constitution’s provisions, especially the Velayat-e Faqih principle. Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who was a powerful and influential Marja’ Taqlid (“source of emulation”) and the religious leader of the Moslem People’s Party, had millions of followers, particularly in his birthplace of Azarbaijan, including in the city of Tabriz, and among Azarbaijanis residing in cities such as Qom, Tehran, and Mashhad. He was a staunch opponent of the rule of the clergy and had criticized the process and the way in which the April Referendum had been conducted where the citizens were not given the choice as to the form of government they wished to have. He had also protested the revolutionary courts’ unjust proceedings and sentences, as well as the Revolutionary Committees’ (“Komitehs”, local law enforcement units formed after the Revolution) arbitrary and highhanded conduct.

Ayatollah Shariatmadari and the Moslem People’s Party – a political party which millions of Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s followers had joined – demanded that the Constitution be reformed, particularly Principle 110 related to Velayat-e Faqih, which they deemed to be in conflict with Principles 6 and 56 of the Constitution that emphasized sovereignty of the people. Ayatollah Shariatmadari and his supporters’ expression of opposition to the Constitution did not fully reach the people, however, given the fact that their voices were drowned out by the voices of Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters who had control of the main media, including the State Radio and Television. The attack on demonstrators protesting the Constitution the day after the Referendum on the Constitution, and the killing of a person guarding Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s home in Qom, resulted in over one month of protests and clashes in Tabriz, the closure of the city’s airport, the taking of the Provincial Governor’s Office, and the occupation of the Tabriz State Radio and Television Center, which had censored the news related to the opponents of the Constitution and encouraged people to participate in the Referendum. The broadcast of Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s still picture while a letter written by his brother, Seyed Mohammad Sadeq Shariatmadari, encouraging people to participate in the elections was being read, further fueled Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s supporters’ anger toward the State Radio and Television.

Most of Azarbaijan Province’s Komitehs, as well as local armed forces, also supported Ayatollah Shariatmadari, had made things difficult for the arrival of auxiliary forces to quash the protesters. On December 13, 1979, upon a call by the Moslem People’s Party, hundreds of thousands of people – and according to Kayhan newspaper, about one and a half million people – from Tabriz and other Azarbaijan towns and villages, peacefully gathered in the streets and renewed their demands, including an end to censorship in State Radio and Television, more pronounced dissemination of Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s viewpoints in national media, and a revision and reform of the Constitution. Various government delegations went to Qom and Tabriz in order to calm the protesters and appease Ayatollah Shariatmadari. Their disregard for the protesters demands, however, and their words and accusations hurled against the latter and the Moslem People’s Party, including calling them “communists”, “dregs of the former regime”, “feudalists”, “freemasons”, “SAVAKI” (members of the Shah’s secret police), “and “Bakhtiar supporters” (the last prime minister of the monarchy) resulted in the continuation of tensions between Ayatollah Shariatmadari and Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters.

Clashes between supporters of the two Ayatollahs intensified in January 1980. The clashes extended to Qom, where a group of people armed with knives and other cold weapons had attacked Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s home. Ultimately, on January 6, 1980, Ayatollah Shariatmadari, whose angry supporters had started to march toward Ayatollah Khomeini’s home in Qom, asked the people to maintain their calm in order to prevent bloodshed and a civil war, and dissociated himself from the Moslem People’s Party. Clashes continued in Tabriz, however, but ended upon the occupation of the Moslem People’s Party’s headquarters and the arrest and execution of a number of protesters, including Air Force officers, and the murder and intimidation of several people close to Ayatollah Shariatmadari. According to available information, the Tabriz protests had 41 victims, and at least 17 individuals were executed subsequent to the protests. Supporters of the Moslem People’s Party and Ayatollah Shariatmadari were also punished and subjected to prison sentences, expropriation of property, and defrocking [in the case of clerics]. Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s activities were restricted, and ultimately, in 1982, Islamic Republic officials accused him of participation in a coup d’état and kept him under house arrest without a trial. The Dar al-Tabliq (an organization for the promotion of religious activities) that he had founded and its assets and property were expropriated for the benefit of Ayatollah Khomeini’s supporters. Ayatollah Shariatmadari was even prevented from access to a hospital for treatment of his prostate cancer (when there was still a chance to treat the illness) until his condition had taken a severe turn for the worse. (1)

Unofficial Islamic Assassination Groups in the First Two Years after the 1979 Revolution

After the 1979 Revolution and until the time where security and judicial institutions were fully established in mid-1980, a collection of Islamic groups carried out arrests, threats and intimidation, murders, and bombings, either independently or alongside the Islamic Revolution Komitehs and the Islamic Revolution Revolutionary Guards Corps.  The Abdorrahman Boroumsnd Center’s research indicates that between April and December 1979, at least 41 murders, bombings, and attempted assassination operations were carried out by more than 20 unofficial, mostly Islamic, groups, in 17 cities and counties across Iran.

No information was obtained regarding the “Fajr-e Mostaz’afin Guerilla Organization” other than the announcement that was issued subsequent to Mr. Sadaqiani’s murder. Nevertheless, the language used in the announcements issued by this armed group, the specifications cited for their targeted individuals and locations, and the type of reaction shown by Islamic Republic officials to these murders, correspond and conform to the rhetoric used by revolutionary court judges, as well as to the statements made by high-ranking officials close to Ayatollah Khomeini and clerics that supported the regime; in certain cases, they were even led or supported by revolutionary leaders and personalities.

These groups which carried the prefix “Tohidi” (“monotheist”) or the suffixes “Islamic” or “Mostaz’afin” (“the poor and the weak”), targeted different individuals and locations. The most targeted groups consisted of individuals who had been accused of “drug trafficking” or “engaging in corruption” either by the media of the time or by the attacking groups themselves in their announcements. For instance, in its announcement regarding the murder of 7 individuals in January 1980, the group Shahin Enqelab Eslami (“Islamic Revolution Falcon”) had stated: “We had warned these people (who were among the heads of narcotic distribution and prostitution [rings], ruining the reputation of innocent girls) to stop distributing narcotic drugs and fostering and promoting prostitution ten times. But since they did not heed our warnings, the Shahin Enqelab Eslami court arrested them, and after three days of interrogation and trial, sentenced them to death.” (2) (Ettela’at newspaper, January 20, 1980).

Businessmen, merchants, and landowners, or clerics who were accused of either working with the previous regime or opposed the ideology of leaders of the Revolution, were also targeted by these groups. For instance, Seyed Javad Zabihi, religious panegyrist and singer of religious hymns, who had been tried and sentenced to prison in early 1980 on charges of “deviating public opinion in order to strengthen the Pahlavi regime”, and had subsequently been pardoned by the Leader of the Revolution, was killed on July 12, 1980, with the Payam-e Mostaz’af Tohidi Group claiming responsibility for the murder. In its announcement, the latter group condemned the Prosecutor’s Office and revolutionary courts for “being lax and compromising”, and promised it would “carry out revolutionary executions of traitors and those affiliated with the previous regime”. (Kayhan newspaper, July 14, 1980). In his memoirs, Ayatollah Khalkhali, the first Shari’a Judge of Islamic Revolutionary Courts (Head of revolutionary courts) cited Mr. Zabihi among those for whom he had issued a death sentence. (Memoirs of Sadeq Khalkhali, 2000). Execution, imprisonment, issuance and implementation of flogging sentences, sending into exile, defrocking, and home confinement of clerics that were considered not to be of the revolutionary movement, including those who opposed the rule of the clergy, such as Ayatollah Kazem Shariatmadari, as well as the expropriation by revolutionary courts of dozens of factories, hundreds of acres of land and assets, belonging to the wealthy, to factory owners, and to landowners, after the Islamic Republic had taken root, was part of the newly established government’s official opposition to these individuals.

On May 4, 1980, Hojjatoleslam Sheikh Morteza Mahmudi, the person in charge of Ayatollah Shariatmadari’s correspondence was also assassinated in Qom. According to published reports, three individuals by the names of Sa’eed Feqh Meshkini, Mohammad Mehdi Jannati, and Ali Sadeqi, were arrested for Mr. Mahmudi’s murder. (Ettela’at newspaper, May 6. 1980). However, no news of their trial and punishment was reported, and the officials did not provide any information to Ayatollah Shariatmadari in this regard. Mr. Feiz Meshkini, Ayatollah Meshkini’s nephew and a person close to Ayatollah Shariatmadari, was also threatened that he would meet “with the same fate as [Mr.] Mahmudi, if he did not cooperate with the officials”. (Boroumand Center interview, January 7, 2022).

A number of influential revolutionary officials made statements justifying these assassinations. Furthermore, the then-Prosecutor General had stated: “To allow anyone who gathers a bunch of people around to start a trial under some title and mete out punishment as he wishes and describe it as based on Shari’a, is something that will eventually lead to judicial chaos and to an absence of security for the country” (Kayhan newspaper, October 14, 1979). The then-Prosecutor General’s expression of concern indicates that these assassinations could not have been without any connection to influential revolutionary personalities.

In an interview in January 1980, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the then-Minister of the Interior, alluded to the government’s plans to prevent “assassinations and chaos”, and stated that the lack of action on the part of official institutions was one of the reasons for these assassinations: “Of course, one must bear in mind that these events do occur after every revolution and they are normal to a certain extent; but other than that, the absence of action and lack of sufficient ability on the part of the judiciary and the police [to prevent these acts] are also a cause.” (Kayhan newspaper, January 20, 1980).

Habibollah Peyman, member of the Council of Revolution, had stated this regarding terrorist groups: “Some of these groups are made up of young people with revolutionary fervor who were in the middle of the fight [for the revolution] themselves; but when they see that even after the Revolution, those loyal to the previous regime and wealthy capitalists continue [to conduct their affairs] as before, they take it upon themselves to carry out revolutionary executions … And finally, the last group, [consists of those] who have a superficial view [of things] and think that they can reform society by making superficial changes.” (Kayhan newspaper, January 20, 1980). In a news conference in May 1980, in response to a rumor that seven members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Department of the Fight Against Monkerat (“acts prohibited by Islam”) were members of Shahin Enqelab Eslami (“Islamic Revolution Falcon”) group, Ali Qoddussi, Islamic Revolution Prosecutor General, stated: “It is not expedient to talk about this right now; the accurate information will be announced later.” (Kayhan newspaper, May14, 1980). As of the date of publication hereof, the Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has not come across any evidence of prosecution of assassinations conducted by these groups in its research, with the exception of two cases. In one case, three individuals, including two by the names of Sa’eed Feqh Meshkini and Mohammad Mehdi Jannati were arrested in Qom, and in another case, two individuals were arrested on charges of “theft and rape”, who were said to have confessed to membership in the Shahin Enqelab Eslami group; however, they did not make any admissions regarding the murders committed by this group. (Ettela’at newpaper, May 6, 1980, and Kayhan newspaper, January 21, 1980). There is no information regarding their fate.

Officials’ Reaction

Two days prior to Mr. Sadaqiani’s murder, citing its interview conducted with Seyed Hossein Mussavi Tabrizi, Head of Islamic Revolutionary Courts of East and West Azarbaijan Provinces, Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, the official publication of the Jomhuri Eslami Party (“Islamic Republic Party”) (3), had accused Mr. Sadaqiani of “distributing money among the hoodlums and thugs [involved in the Tabriz and Qom events]”.  (Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, January 10, 1980)

Four days after Mr. Sadaqiani’s murder, Seyed Hossein Mussavi Tabrizi, Head of Islamic Revolutionary Courts of East and West Azarbaijan Provinces, alluded to him and to several other wealthy people in Tabriz and stated: “Following the nationalization of 25 private sector factories and the transfer of a large number of uncultivated land to the Mostaz’afan Foundation, [the bloody clashes of Tabriz] were planned by the big crony capitalists, and they duped uninformed individuals into creating unrest and chaos in the city of Tabriz under the guise of supporting the Great Religious Scholars and Sources of Emulation.” (Ettela’at newspaper, January 14, 1980). Mussavi Tabrizi had labeled Mr. Sadaqiani a factory owner whose factory had been expropriated after the 1979 Islamic Revolution (Jomhuri Eslami newspaper, January 8, 1980), and “had close cooperation and financial dealings with the Moslem People’s Party [made up of supporters of Ayatollah Shariatmadari]”. (Ettela’at newspaper, January 12, 1980). Furthermore, on January 12, 1980, Enqelab Eslami newspaper had also presented him as a “major landowner”, “one of whose parcels of land across from the military base had been distributed among the Mostaz’afin (“the poor and the weak”)”. (Enqelab Eslami newspaper, January 12, 1980).

In a communique issued on January 15, 1980, regarding Mr. Sadaqiani’s murder, the Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office stated: “In the course of the recent events in Tabriz, a number of corrupt people took advantage of the situation and assassinated Doctor Sadaqiani, and certain spiteful media, in their utmost wickedness, attributed the assassination to the Court. Although the Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Court does not consider him completely without fault in the recent events, and he was [in fact] under indictment for prosecution by the Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, [the Court] considers this a fascist act and condemns it; because in our opinion, any action that is in violation of state and Islamic laws, is to be condemned.” (Ettela’at newspaper, January 15, 1980).

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the then-Minister of the Interior, alluded to the government’s plans to prevent “assassinations and chaos”, and stated that the lack of action on the part of official institutions was one of the reasons for these assassinations: “Of course, one must bear in mind that these events do occur after every revolution and they are normal to a certain extent; but other than that, the absence of action and lack of sufficient ability on the part of the judiciary and the police [to prevent these acts] are also a cause.” (Kayhan newspaper, January 20, 1980).

No information is available regarding a judicial follow up of Mr. Sadaqiani’s murder case.

Family’s Reaction

There is no information regarding Mr. Sadaqiani’s family’s reaction. 


(1) On January 12, 1980, the Tabriz Islamic Revolutionary Court executed 11 individuals based on various charges, including Moharebeh (“waging war”) against Allah. Furthermore, on January 20, 1980, three members of the military were sentenced to death, without a defense attorney present, on the charge of Efsad fel-Arz (“spreading corruption on Earth”) for “the detention of the commander of a military base for two hours as a sign of protest”, which served as a pretext for the sentence; but in fact, they were sentenced for their support of Ayatollah Shariatmadari.
(2) The Department of the Fight Against Monkerat (“acts prohibited by Islam”), functioning out of the Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, had asked the perpetrators of these murders and other groups to leave the prosecution of these accused individuals to “the competent authorities” because “officers are taking every possible action, with the help of Komitehs and the Revolutionary Guards Corps, to arrest these types of people, to arrest them as soon as possible and turn them over to the Islamic Revolutionary Prosecutor’s Office, that will punish them in accordance with the tenets of Shari’a law”. (Ettela’at newspaper, January 16, 1980). The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center research indicates that during the approximately one year subsequent to the 1979 Revolution, that is, from February 11, 1979, to mid-March 1980, at least 585 individuals were executed by firing squad, 36 of whom were charged with narcotics related crimes, and 89 with sex crimes and generalized charges of “corruption and prostitution”.
(3) The Jomhuri Eslami Party was formed in 1979, and was the first political party whose members included the most influential clerics and non-clerics who were staunch believers in Ayatollah Khomeini’s ideology. One of the objectives of the formation of the Jomhuri Eslami Party was to fight non-Islamic actors and political opponents. The Jomhuri Eslami newspaper was the Party’s official publication.

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