Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Abbas Qolizadeh


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: December 27, 1992
Location of Killing: Özlem Sk. No:48, Kadıköy, Istanbul, Turkey
Mode of Killing: Unspecified extrajudicial method
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Mr. Abbas Qolizadeh was a major in the Imperial Iranian Army.

Information regarding the life and extrajudicial execution of Mr. Abbas Qolizadeh was taken from Turkish newspapers including Cumhuriyet Newspaper (26 Sep 1996, 9 May 2000), The website of Hurriyet Newspaper (17 July 1998), Milliyet Newspaper (8 and 9 May 2000) and the book "Who killed Ugur Mumcu" (written by Adnan Gerger, Imge Publication, 2011). Additional information was taken from the indictment issued against the Tawheed-Salam groups and the Quds Force (July and August 2000), The verdict of the branch 11 of Ankara Serious Crimes Court (28 July 2005), Cumhuriyet newspaper (29 Dec 1992, 12 and 15 Dec 1993) and other sources*.

Mr. Abbas Qolizadeh served as a major in the Iranian Imperial Army and worked as a special bodyguard. He was married and had four children. In 1982-1983, Mr. Qolizadeh sought refuge in Turkey with his family, settling in Istanbul. (Cumhuriyet Newspaper, December 29, 1992).

After leaving Iran, Mr. Qolizadeh became a member of the Derafsh-e Kaviani Organization (“The Flag for Freedom of Iran”), assuming a role as an official overseeing the members and political activists associated with this organization in Turkey. (Interview with Manouchehr Ganji, no date). Mr. Qolizadeh was the bodyguard of Mr. Attaullah Bai Ahmadi, who was one of the key members of the Derafsh-e Kaviani organization. (From the book 'Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance', 2002, page 203). 

Derafsh-e Kaviani Organization 

The Derafsh-e Kaviani Organization was a constitutionalist group opposing the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It was established in Paris in 1987 by Manouchehr Ganji, who served as the Minister of Education in the cabinets of Amir Abbas Hoveyda and Jafar Sharif Emami. Concurrently with its inception, this organization initiated a radio station named Iran’s Derafsh-e Kaviani in Cairo, Egypt. The station broadcasted programs in Farsi for four hours daily. The organization operated against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran by distributing audio and video cassettes and broadcasting the Derafsh-e Kaviani radio within Iran. In 1998, the Derafsh-e Kaviani organization altered its name to the 'Organization of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms for Iran'. 

Background on Turkish Islamic groups involved in extrajudicial executions of Iranian dissidents 

After the famous Turkish journalist Ugur Mumcu was assassinated, having authored an article on Islamic extremist groups in Turkey, implicating their involvement in the targeted killings of Iranian dissidents with substantial support from the Iranian government, the Turkish authorities arrested several members of these extremist Islamic groups in a villa in the Beykoz district of Istanbul on January 17, 2000. During the trial proceedings involving these individuals, extensive evidence, documents obtained from them, and their confessions underscore the involvement and actions of security and diplomatic agents associated with the Iranian government in abducting and executing Iranian government opponents. During the 1980s and 1990s, these individuals undertook multiple journeys to Iran for military training. The court ruling highlights numerous terrorist operations and establishes the link between the defendants and Iran's security forces. It also discusses Iran's financial, intelligence, and facilitation support to the defendants for the assassination of Turkish intellectuals and Iranian opponents of the Iranian government in Turkey. In the cited vote, the names of Iranian embassy employees involved directly and indirectly in the assassinations were mentioned. (Extracted from the indictment issued by branch 11 of the Turkish Serious Crimes Court and the court's decision in July 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 local authorities have not issued arrest warrants. But documentation, evidence, and traces obtained through investigations conducted by local police and judicial authorities confirm the theory of state committed crimes. In some instances, these investigations have resulted in the expulsion or arrest of Iranian diplomats. In a few cases outside Iran, the perpetrators of these murders have been arrested and put on trial. 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 that 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. 

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.

Threats and Assassination of Mr. Abbas Qolizadeh

Mr. Abbas Qolizadeh was murdered on December 26, 1992, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Cumhuriyet newspaper, December 29, 1992; Amnesty International report, March 1994; article published by Brigham Young University, USA, 2013).

According to Cumhuriyet newspaper, citing Mr. Qolizadeh's wife, he and his family faced repeated threats from unidentified individuals three years prior to his abduction, prompting them to change residences. (29 Dec 1992).

A few months before Mr. Qolizadeh's assassination, an individual claiming to be a supporter of the Derafsh-e Kaviani organization called him, asserting they were well-positioned to orchestrate a strike and protest at the Iranian Oil Company. Subsequently, Mr. Qolizadeh noted the regular surveillance by two Islamic Republic agents. With assistance from a Turkish friend, he identified them, and Turkish police subsequently arrested the agents. Following the detention of these individuals, Mr. Qolizadeh's wife received numerous threatening calls from Iran. The threats warned, "If anything happens to those individuals, we will mutilate your husband." However, a few days after the arrest, Turkish authorities released the detained persons citing insufficient evidence. (The book 'Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance', 2002, page 203).

In an interview with Cumhuriyet newspaper, Mr. Qolizadeh's wife recounted the details of his abduction: “Around 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 26, 1992, five individuals with unkempt beards used knives and an anesthetic spray on Mr. Qolizadeh and his family while they were returning from shopping. They attacked him in front of their residence on Sair Arsi Street, Ozlem Alley, in the Kadikoy district of Istanbul. Subsequently, they abducted him with a blue Mitsubishi minibus lacking a license plate after rendering him unconscious with the anesthetic spray.' (December 29, 1992).

Before the abduction of Mr. Qolizadeh, individuals from the Islamic Movement of Turkey, under the direction of Iran's intelligence service agents, sought to hire a postman to wiretap the phones of Iranian Islamic Republic opposition activists, including Mr. Qolizadeh. Iran's agents refused the postman's proposition of receiving $10,000 per person for eavesdropping, resulting in the discontinuation of the project. (Milliyet newspaper, May 9, 2000).

According to the information available, the members of the Islamic Movement of Turkey, who were accused and arrested for carrying out multiple assassinations of the Iranian government's opponents in Turkey, confessed to meeting with the agents of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence in March and April 1993 in the Kadikoy area of Istanbul (Hurriyet Newspaper, 17 July 1998). They admitted, in exchange for $37,000, to abducting Mr. Qolizadeh under the order of the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence (Article, 1992) and delivering him to the Ministry's agents at a rented villa on the coast of Gemlik, Istanbul (Milliyet newspaper, May 9, 2000).

A member of the Islamic Movement of Turkey confessed in court to the assassination of Mr. Qolizadeh. He stated, "In 1992, an Iranian intelligence operative based in Turkey approached me and requested assistance in locating a person who had fled Iran, intending to abduct and return him to Iran. I agreed to help. I shared this with another member of the Turkish Islamic Movement who also agreed. Iranians paid four or five thousand dollars to purchase a minibus. I handed over the money to some friends who accepted it. Subsequently, I traveled to Germany. Upon my return, I discovered that Abbas Qolizadeh had been abducted and delivered to the Iranians. The Iranian intelligence operative later informed me that they had sedated Qolizadeh and transported him to Iran." (Book: "Who Killed Ugur Mumcu").

Another member of the Islamic Movement of Turkey, directly involved in the abduction of Mr. Qolizadeh, admitted in his confession: "On December 26, 1992, several members of our group proposed that we apprehend an Iranian individual, Abbas Qolizadeh, residing in Istanbul. He was accused of causing distress to Muslims in Iran, and the plan was to abduct him and deliver him to Iran's intelligence agents. I agreed to the plan. Later that day, a group, including four Iranians and three Turkish individuals, went to Qolizadeh's residence. We restrained Qolizadeh and forcibly placed him in the minibus. An ampoule was administered, and he was confined in a box-like structure. There was a woman shouting next to Qolizadeh, but we quickly departed in the minibus." (From the book "Who Killed Ugur Mumcu," 2011).

According to Cumhuriyet newspaper, an employee from the Iranian consulate in Istanbul was implicated in the assassination of several members associated with organizations and parties that opposed the Iranian government in Turkey. These involvements included the abduction and murder of Mr. Qolizadeh. (Cumhuriyet newspaper, May 9, 2000)

The Turkish police discovered Mr. Qolizadeh's body in the sea in Istanbul a few days after his abduction. Signs of severe torture were evident on his body. (Interview with Manouchehr Ganji, and the book 'Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance', 2002, page 203).

Mr. Qolizadeh's body was buried in Turkey. (Interview with Manouchehr Ganji, undated).

Iranian Officials’ Reaction

The reaction of Iranian officials is unknown as there is no available information about their response.

Turkish Officials' Reaction

Following Mr. Qolizadeh's abduction, Turkish security forces alerted all Turkish airports and border crossings to prevent him from being relocated (Cumhuriyet newspaper, 29 Dec 1992).

After the assassination of several opponents of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Turkey, including Mr. Qolizadeh, the Prime Minister of Turkey ordered an investigation into Iranian opposition members in Turkey. A delegation from the Turkish Ministry of the Interior was dispatched to Istanbul, the primary residence of the Iranian opposition, for this investigation. (Cumhuriyet newspaper, December 12, 1993).

In relation to the assassination of opponents of the Iranian government in Turkey, the Turkish government accused extremist Islamic groups in Turkey of involvement in these killings. Consequently, a considerable number of leaders and members from these groups, including the leader and senior members of the Islamic movement, were arrested between 1993 and 1996. (Columbia International Relations Online, February 1998).

After one of the kidnappers of Mr. Qolizadeh was identified by his wife, who was a member of the leadership of the Islamic Movement, the Turkish government accused the Iranian government of cooperating with Islamic extremist groups in Turkey. (Cumhuriyet newspaper, December 12, 1993)

The leader of the Islamic Movement organization testified in court regarding the group's connection with the Iranian consulate in Istanbul: "We met with Azad [an employee of the Iranian consulate in Istanbul] in the garden of Kuçuk Asat Mosque in Ankara. Majid Shadkar [another employee of the Iranian consulate in Istanbul] and Ali Ashrafi were also present. I conveyed to Azad that our focus was on matters beneficial to Iran, but we received no support from them [Iran]. Ashrafi claimed that we were mistaken about the Iranian government, stating Iran supports all those who love the country and collaborate with it. Majid Shadkar remarked, 'Who do you think you are? We have 5-10 groups like yours that can cooperate with us (Milliyet Newspaper, 9 May 2000).

According to Mr. Ganji, the Turkish police apprehended the kidnapper of Mr. Qolizadeh in 1993, and they confessed to Mr. Qolizadeh's assassination on the orders of the Iranian government in 1994. Turkish TV featured one of the kidnappers of Mr. Qolizadeh in a documentary aired on May 2, 1994 (the book 'Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance', 2002, page 203).

In the summer of 2000, the Prosecutor General of Turkey filed charges against 24 defendants, all members of extreme Islamic groups in Turkey, accusing them of involvement in 22 terrorist operations against Turkish and Iranian citizens within Turkish territory. During that year, these individuals were arrested and faced trial in various operations. By August 2005, the court issued their initial verdict. In court, they confessed to maintaining direct contact with Iran's security and intelligence forces since approximately 1981. They also acknowledged making numerous trips to Iran for military and political training and to receive financial, educational, and military assistance. Additionally, they admitted to carrying out terrorist operations against the opponents of the Iranian government in Turkey for several years, acting upon the Iranian government's requests. (The indictment issued against the Tawheed-Salam groups and the Quds Force (July and August 2000) and the verdict of branch 11 of Ankara Serious Crimes Court on 28 July 2005). Despite extensive investigations, the Boroumand Foundation did not obtain the final verdict for these defendants, nor did it receive information regarding their fate.

Familys’ Reaction

There is no information available regarding the reaction of Mr. Qolizadeh's family to his assassination. 

Impacts on Family

Mrs. Shahnaz Qolizadeh, Mr. Qolizadeh's wife, expressed to the New York Sun newspaper that she and her children suffered from depression following the assassination of Mr. Qolizadeh (New York Sun newspaper, 13 May 2005). 


Other sources: Amnesty International report (March 1994), New York Sun newspaper website (May 13, 2005), a Video interview of Manouchehr Ganji - Leader of the Derafsh-e Kaviani Organization (Date unspecified), The article published by Brigham Young University in America (2013), the book 'Defying the Iranian Revolution: From a Minister to the Shah to a Leader of Resistance', 2002, page 203, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (21 November 2000), The European country of the main information network (20 March 2003), and Colombia International Relations Online (February 1998.)

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