Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Kambiz Sadeqzadeh Milani


Age: 42
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: August 21, 1980
Location of Killing: Naft Street, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Enforced disappearance
Age at time of alleged offense: 42

About this Case

Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani was married and he had children. His children describe him as a loving, caring, and good-natured father. They remember him as an exemplary human being.

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Dr. Kambiz Sadeqzadeh Milani, son of Mir Ahmad, was collected from an interview with his son, Shahin Sadeqzadeh Milani (Interview with Boroumand Center, June 12, 2017). Additional information was obtained from Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran website (August 23, 1980; July 23, 2021; February 7, 2022), aasoo website (August 9 and October 6, 2015), Farsi BBC (October 11, 2015), Sahifeh Nur Book Vol. 17, May 28, 1982, “Martyrs of the Faith of God” book by Ariana Khadem-Mahmoudi, Juxta Publishing, 2012, “160 Years Struggle Against the Baha’i Faith” book by Fereydun Vahman, Sweden, Baran Publishing, 2010, Kayhan Newspaper (October 19, 1981), Ettela’at Newspaper (January 7, 1982), and Jomhuri Eslami Newspaper (January 27, 1982).

Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani is one of the 206 people whose names have been published in the 1999 report of the Baha’i International Community. This report is titled “The Secret Plan of the Islamic Republic to Destroy a Religious Community”. It describes the persecution of the Baha’i Community of Iran and includes a list of Baha’is who have been killed in Iran since 1978.

Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani was born into a Baha’i family in 1938. In 1967, he got his PhD in Medicine from Tehran University and left for the United States, where he became a Psychiatrist. In the United States, he opened his own office and practiced psychiatry. After a while, he returned to Iran and opened a psychiatry office in Tehran. (Center Research, Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 1980/ revisited February 7, 2022)

Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani was married and had children. His children describe him as a loving, caring, and good-natured father. They remember him as an exemplary human being. Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani taught them calligraphy. His children say that Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani went back to Iran from the US “to serve his country. The Islamic Republic did not appreciate his service and they killed him.” Mr. Sadeqzadeh’s family describe him as “fun loving, sociable, influential, and trusted by the Baha’i community”. (Boroumand Center Interview, June 12, 2017)

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Background

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran - the largest religious minority, with approximately 300 thousand members in 1979(1)- 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.(2) 

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran is not specific to the time of the Islamic Republic but it was in this era that it was amplified and institutionalized. During the Revolution itself, supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini attacked Baha’i homes and businesses and in certain instances, even committed murder.

On the eve of his return from France to Iran, in response to a question regarding political and religious freedom of Baha’is under the rule of an Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini stated: “They are a political party; they are harmful and detrimental. They will not be acceptable.” The interviewer asked another question: “Will they be free to perform their religious rites?” The Ayatollah responded: “No.” Khomeini had previously “spoken of the Baha’i threat to the Shah’s regime, Islam, national unity, and national security” in various speeches. (Asoo website, October 6, 2015). 

Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly After the Islamic Revolution 

In the organizational structure of the Baha’i community, the institution of the National Spiritual Assembly is a body composed of nine individuals that are elected annually with the votes of adult Baha’is in each country. This institution tends to the affairs and issues of the Baha’i community on the national level. The National Spiritual Assembly has the responsibility of guiding, coordinating, and moving forward the activities of each country’s local spiritual assemblies, and establishing contact with Beit-al-Adl (“House of Justice”), the international council of the Baha’i faith, the highest decision-making authority in the world Baha’i community. 

In 1980 and 1981, the First, Second, and Third National Spiritual Assemblies, as well as local Baha’i spiritual assemblies in various cities, including Tehran, Yazd, Hamedan, and Tabriz, were severely persecuted and the majority of their members were executed. In “The Final Message of the Iran National Spiritual Assembly to the Friends of the Country”, the Third Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly, abiding by the principle of obeying the government, announced the closure of the Baha’i organizations, and at the same time, sent an open letter to two thousand well-known and high-ranking government figures asking an end to the arrest, detention, torture, execution, and injustice against Baha’is. (BBC Persian website, October 11, 2015). 

Judicial officials of the Islamic Republic have come up with [unreasonable and unacceptable] justifications for the persecution and the execution of the members of the National Spiritual Assemblies. In a speech on May 28, 1982, Ayatollah Khomeini said: “The Baha’is are not a religion, they’re a [political] party; it’s a party that was supported by Britain in the past, and now it’s being supported by America. They are spies.” (Sahifeye Noor, Volume 17, May 28, 1982).

The Baha’is deny the charge of relations with countries such as Israel, citing “the religious principle of ‘the requirement of staying out of politics’. They say that religious relations know no bounds, and that the Iranian Baha’i Spiritual Assembly has done nothing, and taken no action, against the Islamic Republic”. (Asoo website, August 9, 2015). 

It must be noted that the Beit-al-Adl was established in Haifa at a time where there was no such country as the state of Israel. The founders of the Baha’i faith, Baha’ollah in particular, had no choice but to leave Iran in the latter part of the 19thCentury under pressure and persecution, and to turn to Turkey and Iraq. 

Baha’ollah did not escape persecution under the Ottoman Empire either. He was imprisoned for a time in present day Turkey and was released in 1908. In 1909, Baha’ollah transferred the body of Ali Mohammad Baab – who had been executed in Iran in 1850 – to Beit-al-Adl. A short time before the start of the First World War, Baha’ollah settled as the leader of the Baha’is in Haifa, a city where Beit-al-Adl is located, and began to tend to the affairs and the issues of the Baha’i community. After World War I, when Palestine was under the British Mandate, the Baha’i community remained safe from persecution. (Boroumand Center research). 

Mr. Sadeqzadeh’s Arrest and Death

On August 21, 1980, the National Spiritual Assembly had a joint meeting with members of the Continental Board of Counselors, Yusef Abbassian Milani and Heshmatollah Rohani. They had gathered to discuss the situation of the Baha’is incarcerated in Yazd and Hamadan. Their concern was well founded. The members of these two Local Spiritual Assemblies, who had been arrested in the few weeks prior to this meeting, were all executed in 1980 and 1981. At roughly 4pm on August 21, “armed revolutionary guards” raided this meeting which was held on Naft Street in Tehran. Kambiz Sadeqzadeh Milani and the rest of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly – Hushang Mahmudi, Ebrahim Rahmani, Hossein Naji, Abdol Hossein Taslimi, Manuher Qa’em Maqami, Yusef Khorasani Ghadimi, Bahiyeh Naderi, and Ata’ollah Moqarebi, were taken away with the two Continental Counselors. They were never heard from again. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 23, 1980; July 23, 2021)

Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani was often persecuted for being an adherent of the Baha’i Faith. In February 1980, his medical office and his home were raided.

The fate of the nine members of the National Spiritual Assembly and the two Continental Counselors remains unknown. There are reports that these individuals were incarcerated at Evin Prison for a short while. However, there is no news of them after August 29, 1980. They are all currently presumed dead (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, p. 29). Considering the fact that all members of the second Assembly and most members of the third Assembly elected to replace this National Spiritual Assembly were executed, the Baha’i community has no doubt that these individuals have been killed. (Martyrs of the Faith of God, p. 156; Farsi BBC website, October 11, 2015) 

Officials’ Reaction

Islamic Republic officials, whether official or semi-official, have never formally accepted responsibility for arresting and executing the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran. Although, on September 2, 1980, in a meeting between the spouses of the missing Assembly members and Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Speaker of the House at the time declared that “these Baha’is have been arrested because of their involvement in the Nojeh Coup.” These allegations were refuted by the Baha’is. One week later, on September 10, 1980, Rafsanjani told the families that warrants had been issued for the arrest of eleven Baha’is, but that their families would not be able to meet them until after the interrogations had been done. He assured them that if they were innocent they would be released (160 Years Struggle Against the Baha’i Faith, pp. 425-426). On October 9, 1980, Mr. Rafsanjani changed his statement and the official statement of the prosecutor. He told the spouse of one of the abductees that the government had not arrested any members of the National Spiritual Assembly (160 Years Struggle Against the Baha’i Faith, p. 426).

On the other hand, in response to the executions of the second Baha’i Spiritual Assembly, Ahmad Tavakkoli, Minister of Labor and Government Spokesperson said, “We do not execute Baha’is for being Baha’is, nor do we execute communists for being communists. We do not consider adhering to an ideology a crime. If somebody with any ideology decides to take steps against the good of the nation, they will be tried according to the law, and they will be punished. We will not allow people who take money from Israel and spy in Iran to remain in this country. We will definitely deal with them severely, and it makes no difference if they are Moslem or non-Moslem.” (Jomhuriye Eslami Newspaper, January 27, 1982)

In response to the executions of the second Baha’i Spiritual Assembly, Head of the Supreme Court Seyyed Abdolkarim Mousavi Ardebili, said, “In the Islamic Republic of Iran, people are not executed because of their convictions or their religion. Eight Baha’is who were part of a secret spy network “National Spiritual Assembly” have been tried and executed for spying and working for enemies against the Islamic Republic.” (Ettela’at Newspaper, January 7, 1982)

Ayatollah Mohammadi Gilani, religious judge in the Islamic Republic Courts, commented about the Baha’is: “There are two kinds of apostates. Natural apostate and national apostate. Natural apostate is someone whose birth was in Islam. That means either both of his parents, or one of them, were Moslem at the time of his birth. National apostate is someone whose birth was not so. The punishment of a natural apostate is death, and his repentance is not accepted.” (Kayhan Newspaper, October 19, 1981)

The anti-Baha’i statements of Ayatollah Khomeini, religious leader and founder of the Islamic Republic, such as this phrase, “They are apostates….they should be destroyed” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, June 17, 2019), over-arching policies embedded with Baha’i persecution, alongside accusations leveled in court against the second National Spiritual Assembly to be executed, clarifies to a large extent the motives leading to the killings of the first National Spiritual Assembly.

In recent years, a videotape of the trial of seven male members of the second National Spiritual Assembly has been published. The men on trial faced a wide variety of accusations such as, “creating mental warfare and propaganda against the regime”, collecting documents and corresponding with international organizations for legal recourse, the entire correspondence of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran during the 1950s, and refraining from condemning the government of Israel about their policies concerning Palestinians. [3] (aasoo website, August 9, 2015)

Following up with attacks on Baha’i lives and livelihoods, before and after the revolution of 1979, was carried out by members of Local Spiritual Assemblies and the National Spiritual Assembly in Iran. Members of these Assemblies documented violations of Baha’is’ human rights for presentation to government officials. If there was no recourse provided, they would correspond with international organizations for help. As far as the Islamic Republic officials were concerned, Baha’is corresponding with the former regime constituted collaboration with them, and correspondence with international organizations was propaganda against the current regime. 

Families’ Reaction

Families of the members of the National Spiritual Assembly of Iran who disappeared four decades ago, still do not have definitive information about the fate or about the circumstances of the deaths of their relatives. In their search for their missing loved ones, they met with various officials in the judiciary and the parliament. Every official claimed ignorance, they were certain the government had no part in these abductions, and they attributed these acts to independent groups (Radio Zamaneh, December 21, 2013). They say that during the few months immediately after their relatives “disappeared”, they tried many avenues to obtain information. Vajdieh Rezvani said, “…We went everywhere you could imagine. This prison, that prison, go to Ayatollah Beheshti, visit the son of Ayatollah Montazeri, Ayatollah Behjat, Ayatollah Gilani. Everyone said they knew nothing…” (BBC, October 11, 2015)

Eleven families of the arrested Baha’is, including Mrs. Jaleh Sadeqzadeh Milani, the wife of Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani, wrote a letter to Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic republic of Iran at the time, on November 1, 1980. In this letter, they said they did not know where their relatives were, they stressed “being Baha’i is the only reason they were arrested”, and they requested him to have these 11 people “investigated in the normal way and the means of their release” affected, and “before they are released, inform their family members of the place of their incarceration so that they can visit them and be spared grievous anxiety.” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran)

According to the family, Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani’s wife had a meeting with Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the leader of the parliament at the time. In this meeting Rafsanjani said according to their investigation, “these people went to Israel together, from an abandoned airfield, somewhere in the desert.” They say they continued following up on their search up until 1981, when the Assembly members elected to replace the first group were executed. Shahin Milani says, “When they were executed and killed, it became clear that the previous group had also been killed. Their fate became clear to us. We just don’t know the details of how this happened.” Shahin, Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani’s youngest child, says they continued to look for evidence by talking to released prisoners. “But no concrete news was ever published that we could rely on.” (Interview with Boroumand Center, June 12, 2017)

Four decades have gone by since these events, and the families still don’t know the details of what happened. According to the child of one of the members of that Assembly, when members of the next Spiritual Assembly were executed in 1981, it became clear that members of the previous Assembly had had a similar fate and that they “had been killed”. (Shahin Milani interview with Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, June 12, 2017)

Impacts on Family

The extrajudicial killing of Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani had many impacts on his family members. His children had to conceal the fact that they were Baha’is and that their father had been killed. Any such conversations would have led to their being “expelled” from school. Even though, two older children of Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani were expelled from school for being Baha’i. In describing the effect of the extrajudicial killing of his father, the youngest son of Mr. Sadeqzadeh Milani, Shahin, said, “When I had problems in my life, I would think that if my father was around, I could ask his opinion, he could help me, and he could be there for me; but he was never there. Sometimes I really missed him. My older brothers missed him too. It was probably more difficult for them because they remembered when he was there. For me it was different. Since I never got used to having a father, I didn’t have to get used to not having him around.”

Mr. Kambiz Sadeqzadeh Milani was a physician and he made a good living. After his extrajudicial killing, his family were faced with financial difficulties. Watching a video tape of the trial of seven male members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Iran who were executed after the revolution was very distressing for their family members and also for the family of Mr. Sadeqzadh Milani. Mr. Shahin Milani said, “When I saw that film I was shocked. I was shocked to find out such a film existed. The judge was saying nonsensical things and it was difficult for me to watch this film. I was seeing the [accused’s] responses. It was very distressing. I had gone to memorial meetings for these people for many years. It was difficult to watch them in a trial where they had no rights, and yet they were trying to defend themselves. I still don’t know whether they were executed immediately after the trial, the next day, or at another time. You can see that they [the accused in this trial] know this is not a real trial. They are in a position of weakness and injustice. Its distressing to see them like this. I thought whether my father had been tried in such a court or not.  I really don’t know yet. This was a year after my father had been arrested. We assume that if my father had been tried, it would have been in such a court.” (Interview with Boroumand Center, June 12, 2017)

Mr. Milani also said, “I always ask myself whether they were hung or shot? Or were they tortured to death? What happened to them? Did they kill them one by one? Did they kill them with a gun? I would like to know about the last minutes of my father’s life.” (Interview with Boroumand Center, June 12, 2017)

None of the families of the National Spiritual assembly of the Baha’is of Iran who were abducted in 1980, more than 40 years ago, know anything about the details of the execution of their loved ones or about the last hours of their lives. 


  1. ‘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.
  2. 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 to be 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. 
  3. The time between the members of the Baha’is Second National Spiritual Assembly’s arrest (December 13, 1981) and their trial (December 27, 1981) is about two weeks. The possibility has been advanced that the defendants spent these two weeks in solitary confinement. Furthermore, many legal defects have been attributed to said trial, including the fact that the judge began the session by introducing the defendants, and not himself. “We see in the video that the judge calls the National Spiritual Assembly’s report to the World Baha’i Headquarters fabricated and political. Therefore, issuance of a decision and sentence based on falsehoods and unlawful [conjecture] is clear evidence of the illegality and illegitimacy of the trial.” (Asoo website, September 6, 2015). 

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