Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Qorban Dordi Turani


Age: 53
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Christianity
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: November 22, 2005
Location of Killing: Gonbad-e Kavus, Golestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Stabbing

About this Case

Mr. Qorban Dordi Turani was a Turkmen.  He was 53, he was married, and he had children.  He had changed his religion from Islam to Christianity.  He lived in Gonbad-e Kavus, he held church sevices in his home, and he taught Christianity.

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Qorban Dordi Turani has been obtained from Campus Direct News news service (December 6, 2005).  News about this murder was also published in Crosswalk Website (November 30, 2005) and (BC?) News Life website (November 29, 2005).  Additional information has been collected from Voice of America Website (December 8, 2005), Iran va Jahan Website (December 6, 2005), Farsi Net Website (Dec 2006 – Jan 2007), and ISNA News Service (March 12, 2018).

Mr. Qorban Dordi Turani was a Turkman.  He was 53, he was married, and he had children (Campus Direct News, December 6, 2005; Voice of America, December 8, 2005).  He was born in Gonbad-e Kavus, into a family who were Sunni-Hanafi.  He had seven siblings.  After he completed his high school education, he would have liked to go to Egypt for religious studies.  However, he could not afford to do this, so he pursued the study of Islam on his own.  Eventually, he became an atheist and he became interested in Marxism (Campus Direct News, December 6, 2005).

Sometime in 1982, Mr. Dordi Turani went to Turkmenistan in search of work.  According to Campus Direct News news service, that same year, Mr. Dordi Turani was accused of killing someone “in self-defence” and he was sentenced to 15 years in prison.  In prison, he became a Christian.  In 1997, he was released from prison, and he returned to Iran.  According to Campus Direct News news service, upon his return to Iran, Mr. Dordi Turani began to teach the Christian Faith openly and actively.  This news service reports that in the first two years of his teaching activity, Mr. Dordi Turani had been able to convert 12 Turkmen citizens to Christianity.  In order to carry out his activities, he managed a church in his home (Campus Direct News, December 6, 2005).

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. *

Background of Islamic Republic Against Christian

While Christianity counts among the three Abrahamic religions officially recognized in Iran, the status carved out for Christians by the Constitution and civil and penal code is markedly inferior. In practice, religious tolerance applies only to ethnic groups who are historically Christian, i.e. Armenians and Assyrians, and not to believers or converts from Muslim backgrounds (UN 1992). The Iranian government has implemented policies that demarcate, monitor, and aggressively suppress Christian civic presence.

The Constitution bars Christians from becoming President, members of the Guardian Council, Army Commanders, School Principals, and from holding senior government positions (UN 1998, IFHR). They are prohibited from running in General Parliamentary elections, and the three seats allocated to Christians in Parliament are exclusively for Armenian, Assyrian, and Chaldean representatives (IFHR).

Civil and criminal statutes explicitly disadvantage Christian parties. They are entitled to less compensation in car-accident settlements and cannot inherit property from Muslims (UN 1998, IFHR). Several offenses punishable by lashings for Muslims are for Christians punishable by death.

The activities of Christian churches and peoples have long been subject to Ministry of Culture surveillance. A law purporting to flag sellers of non-halal foods requires Christian shop owners to display signs reading “designated for religious minorities;” in practice, this signage has been enforced on all Christian businesses as a deterrent to Muslim patrons (UN 1998). Christians have reported denials of academic admissions and business permits on religious grounds (Suuntaus). By the mid-90s all but two Protestant churches had closed under various government pressures, including demands to provide congregants’ names and personal information (Suuntaus, HRW 1995).

Since the revolution, hundreds of Christians have been detained arbitrarily. Many are sentenced to various prison terms and others are released with the specter of charges and investigations against them that are left open indefinitely. Multiple sources who have been arrested or detained reported being threatened by judicial or security officers with apostasy charges, execution, or assassination. With apostasy left unaddressed in penal code, judges defer to the Shar’ia, leaving Christian converts vulnerable to death sentences (ICHRI); it is also left to the personal discretion of judges whether the murder of a Christian by a Muslim even constitutes a crime (IFHR). The state has historically displayed a lack of due diligence in resolving the cases of Christians who die in suspect circumstances, which further exacerbates the precarity of Christians’ social and legal status.

While the Iranian government does not publicize official data on the size of Iran’s Christian population, available sources reflect the consensus that conversions from Islam have been steadily on the rise since the revolution, and that Iranians with Christian leanings could now number as high as 1 million, or 1.5 percent of the population (IJRF, Gamaan, MS). The regime thus continues to invest significantly in the surveillance of Christian activities (IJRF). Scores of Christians have fled Iran and taken refuge in other countries (ICHRI, IJRF, ABC Research). 

The 1990s marked a period of religious crackdowns that staggered, among others, Christian communities. Amid the overall increase in executions, corporal punishments, raids, and press restrictions, scores of Christian converts were imprisoned and tortured (HRW 1996, 1993). In an effort to curb growing public interest in Christianity, Iran placed caps on church attendance, shut down Iran’s main Persian-language bible publisher, prohibited sermons in Persian, confiscated all Christian books, closed all Christian bookstores, and dissolved the Iranian Bible society (Suuntaus, UN 1993). 

The authorities’ heightened reactivity also brought Christian leaders into the crosshairs of the “chain murders,” a string of assassinations during the 1990s of secular intellectual and political dissidents and religious minorities (IW) and other undesirable individuals. Of the seven suspicious deaths of Christian leaders since the revolution, five occurred between 1990 and 1996 (FN). 

Mr. Qorban Dordi Turani’s Death

According to available information, Mr. Qorban Dordi Turani was stabbed to death in Gonbad-e Kavus, on the afternoon of November 22, 2005.  Mr. Dordi Turani’s bloody body was found in front of his home in this town.

There are two accounts regarding Mr. Turani’s death.  Iran va Jahan Website has quoted “Voice of the Martyrs” (Sedaye Shohada):  Mr. Dordi Turani received a phone call at 4 pm, from someone who said they were interested in becoming Christian.  He went to a park in Gonbad-e Kavus to meet this person.  In the report it says that since this person did not show up at the park, at 4:30 Mr Dordi Turani bought a gift for his little daughter and returned home.  According to this report, three people who were waiting for Mr. Dordi Turani outside his home, attacked him.  “The first person stabbed him in the stomach, such that his intestines spilled out.  The second person stabbed him in the back, and the third one stabbed him in the neck.” (Iran va Jahan, December 6, 2005).   Some sources quoting “Voice of the Martyrs” have said that one of the people who murdered Mr. Dordi Turani has said, “This is the punishment of someone who becomes an unbeliever and rejects Islam.” (Iran va Jahan, December 6, 2005; Farsi Net, Dec 2006 – Jan 2007)

Other sources, quoting Campus Direct News, have said that Mr. Dordi Turani was abducted and tortured.  Several hours later, he was left outside his home with his throat cut ( (BC?) News Life, November 29, 2005; Center for Iranian Documents, August 12, 2021).

According to Iran va Jahan Website, a week before he was murdered, Mr. Dordi Turani was invited to discuss his views with Gonbad-e Kavus “religious authorities”.  The religious people present at that meeting had told Mr. Dordi Turani, “We are going to give you one more chance to recant Christianity and return to Islam.” (Center for Iranian Documents, August 12, 2021, December 6, 2005; Farsi Net, Dec 2006 – Jan 2007).

According to available accounts, a few hours after Mr. Dordi Turani was murdered, security personnel went to his house and to the homes of several adherents of his home church.  They collected and took Bibles, Christian publications, and Persian language video tapes about Christianity, which are banned in the Islamic Republic (Voice of America, December 8, 2005; (BC?) News Life, November 29, 2005; Iran va Jahan, December 6, 2005; Farsi Net, Dec 2006 – Jan 2007).  Crosswalk Website has reported that for a week after the murder of Mr. Turani, security personnel arrested, interrogated, and tortured at least ten other Christians in different towns (Crosswalk, November 30, 2005).

According to Campus Direct News, security personnel who went to Mr. Dordi Turani’s house after he was murdered, told his wife that, “apparently local Moslems who were angry about {Mr. Dordi Turani} changing his religion have killed him.” (Campus Direct News, December 6, 2005)

According to available information, Mr. Dordi Turani’s family were not able to get permission to bury him in the town cemetery.  They were finally able to bury him in a location “farther away from the Moslem Cemetery”, without being able to perform the proper religious rites (Farsi Net, Dec 2006 – Jan 2007).

Officials’ Reaction

There is no information about the reaction of officials to this murder.

According to available information, a few days before Mr. Dordi Turani was murdered, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, president at the time, had told a meeting of governors that the rapid proliferation of home churches should be halted ( (BC?) News Life, November 29, 2005; Crosswalk, November 30, 2005; Iran va Jahan, December 6, 20050.

One day before this murder, on November 21, 2005, Ahmad Jannati, member of the Assembly of Experts, Secretary of the Council of Guardians, and Temporary Leader of Friday Prayers in Tehran, had said in his Friday Prayer lecture, “Non-Moslems are animals who roam the earth and cause corruption.” (ISNA, March 12, 2018)

Family’s Reaction

There is no information about the legal reaction of Mr. Dordi Turani’s family.

When she saw his body, Mr. Dordi Turani’s wife shouted: “Remember him as a Christian martyr who sacrificed his life for Christ.” (Farsi Net, Dec 2006 – Jan 2007) 


*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.

Correct/ Complete This Entry