Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Habibollah Mohtadi


Age: 70
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: August 27, 1986
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Other extrajudicial method

About this Case

In Baha’i resources, Mr. Mohtadi is described as “a selfless, devoted, modest, and sincere human being” who loved Iran. 

Information on the extrajudicial killing of Colonel Habibollah (also spelled "Habibo'llah") Mohtadi, son of Hasan Mohtadi, was collected from the Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran Website (August 27, 1986). Additional information on this file was obtained from Radio Zamaneh website (December 21, 2013), and Baha’is in Business Facebook Page (August 28, 2019).

Mr. Mohtadi was born into a Baha’i family in Tehran, in 1916 (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 27, 1986). He completed his elementary and secondary education with honors, at the Tarbiat School in Tehran. Mr. Mohtadi subsequently studied Judicial Law, Economic Law, and Political Law at Tehran University and graduated from this institution. He entered the Army Air Force at a young age, rose through the ranks quickly, and became a colonel at 36. After a while, he left the army and “pursued construction and development projects”. (Baha’is in Business Facebook Page, August 28, 2019)

In 1980, Mr. Mohtadi traveled to the United States to visit his children. He was arrested when he returned to Iran on May 2, 1982. Mr. Mohtadi was initially incarcerated in Qasr Prison, then in Evin Prison, and was eventually transferred to Qezel Hesar Prison (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 27, 1986).

After spending more than three years in prison, Mr. Mohtadi was released on October 27, 1985 (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 27, 1986).

In Baha’i resources, Mr. Mohtadi is described as “a selfless, devoted, modest, and sincere human being” who loved Iran. (Baha’is in Business Facebook Page, August 28, 2019)

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). 

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. 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 since then, both inside and outside Iran. The Abdorrahman Boroumand Center has so far identified over 540 killings outside Iran attributed to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Dissidents have been assassinated by the agents of the Islamic Republic 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 there has not been much published and the local authorities have not issued arrest warrants. But 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 or arrest of Iranian diplomats. In limited cases outside Iran, the perpetrators of these murders have been arrested and put on trial and the evidence presented, revealed the defendants’ connection to Iran’s government institutions, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Iran’s 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. Iranian authorities have not officially accepted responsibility for these murders and have even attributed their commission to internal strife in opposition groups. 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 and their sentence is death regardless of where they are.” More than 10 years after these proclamations, in a speech 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”

At the same time, various political, judicial, and security officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran have, at different times and occasions, confirmed the existence of a long term government policy for these extrajudicial killings and in some cases their implementation. * 

Threat and death of Mr. Habibollah Mohtadi

According to available information, Mr. Habibollah Mohtadi was killed on August 27, 1986, at 3:30 pm, at a gas station in Tehran (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 27, 1986). According to some reports, Mr. Mohtadi was killed by an unidentified motorcycle rider who attacked him on the street and hit him on the head with a heavy object (Radio Zamaneh Website, December 21, 2013). In their report on the killing of Mr. Mohtadi, the Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran has specified that “He was killed at a gas station by revolutionary guards who were going to take him in for interrogation.” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 27, 1986) 

Mr. Mohtadi was 70 years old when he was killed. “He was buried according to Baha’i traditions.” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran, August 27, 1986) 

Officials’ Reaction 

Iranian Government Officials have not reacted to the killing of Mr. Mohtadi. News of this killing was not reported in the media of the time, either. 

Family’s Reaction 

There is no information on the reaction of the family to this killing.


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- [3] 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.
*Read more about the background of extrajudicial killings in the Islamic Republic of Iran by clicking on the left hand highlight with the same title.

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