Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Babak Talebi


Age: 16
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: September 2, 1986
Location of Killing: Sa'idabad, Karaj, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified extrajudicial method
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

When Mr. Talebi’s family went to the Medical Examiner’s Office, they noticed that instead of his corpse being in the mortuary, it had been wrapped in plastic and thrown in a corner. The Medical Examiner’s justification was that an autopsy was not possible because the body had decomposed. The death certificate stated the cause of death as death by hanging.”

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Babak Talebi, son of Davud and Rohanieh, was obtained from the Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran webpage (date of visit: March 14, 2022); Asoo website (October 6, 2015); Baha’i News (January 9, 2017); and the Secretariat of the Universal House of Justice, quoted from the Facebook social network, Golshan-e Eshq webpage (October 2, 2018). Mr. Babak Talebi is also one of the 206 Iranian Baha’is listed in a 1999 report published by the Baha’i International Community. The report, Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community, documents the persecutions of the members of the Faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran and lists the Baha’is killed since 1978.

Mr. Babak Talebi was born on December 11, 1969 , in a Baha’i family from the city of Karaj. He lived in the Sa’idabad neighborhood, a Karaj suburb, where he also went to school. According to Baha’i sources, Mr. Talebi’s father was arrested in 1981 and spent three months in prison. After his father passed away of a heart attack in 1985-86, Mr. Talebi had to take charge of the family. He had to quit school and start working. After changing several jobs, he went to the city of Shiraz in early 1986, in order to work at a relative’s store. During this period, Mr. Talebi worked at the store during the day and spent the nights at his relative’s home. He returned home to Tehran in mid-June of that same year to visit his family. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran webpage, date of visit: March 14, 2022; Facebook social network, Golshan-e Eshgh webpage, October 2, 2018).

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. (3)

Mr. Babak Talebi's Death

According to available information, Mr. Talebi had gone to the home of one of his relatives in Karaj’s Zarnan neighborhood on September 2, 1986. He left the house that afternoon in order to ride his bicycle back to his home in the Sa’idabad neighborhood, but he disappeared. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran webpage, date of visit: March 14, 2022). The next day, Mr. Talebi’s body was found hanging from a tree by a creek. His bicycle was next to his body. (Baha’i News, January 9, 2017). According to available information, “the killers had set up the scene to make believe that he had hanged himself”. Mr. Talebi’s family and relatives gathered in that village and reported the murder to the Gendarmerie. The officers came to the scene and conducted investigations, questioning the villagers. Concluding that Mr. Talebi’s family and relatives “had never had any issues with anyone” in that neighborhood, they took his body to the Medical Examiner’s Office in order to conduct the administrative formalities. (Facebook social network, Golshan-e Eshq webpage, October 2, 2018).

In the following days, his family went to the hospital and to the Medical Examiner’s Office; according to reports by Baha’i sources, however, “instead of [Mr. Talebi’s] body being in the mortuary, it had been wrapped in plastic and thrown in a corner. The Medical Examiner’s justification was that an autopsy was not possible because the body had decomposed. The death certificate stated the cause of death as death by hanging.” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran webpage, date of visit: March 14, 2022).

In an article by Mr. Morteza Esma’ilpur entitled “The History of Baha’i Assassinations in the Last Forty Years”, Mr. Talebi’s death was described as a “suspicious murder”. (Baha’i News, January 9, 2017). According to available information, government officers that came to the scene of the murder, refuted the “death by hanging” theory right then and there, and stated that “it had been days since he had been murdered”.  (Facebook social network, Golshan-e Eshq webpage, October 2, 2018).

Iranian Officials’ Reaction

There is no information regarding Iranian Officials’ reaction to this murder.

The Family’s Reaction

There is no precise information regarding the family’s reaction to this murder; Baha’i sources have reported, however, that they were able to bury Mr. Talebi in Karaj. In the course of follow-ups by his family, Mr. Talebi’s mother and several of his relatives were arrested for his murder by the Iranian regime’s judicial and security officials, and released a short time later. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran webpage, date of visit: March 14, 2022).


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.
3) 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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