Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Yadollah Ostani


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


Date of Killing: July 14, 1980
Location of Killing: Tabriz, Azarbaijan-e Sharqi Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Working with or for a foreign power; Corruption on earth; Collaborating with the political police SAVAK; Association with the Shah's idolatrous regime

About this Case

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: A background

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran (the largest minority with around 300 thousand members) to systematic harassment and persecution and have deprived 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, apply their religious law in their personal affairs, and are banned from public life. Discrimination under the law and in practice has subjected them to abuse and violence.

The Islamic Republic Penal Code grants no right to Baha'is and the courts have denied them the right to redress or protection against assault, killing, 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 parallel to acts of Parliament. One such authority is the late leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, who ruled execution as punishment for the crime of apostasy and decreed that a Muslim will not be killed for killing an apostate.

The banishment from public life has seriously damaged the Baha’is’ professional, economic and social lives. Soon after the revolution, a Ministry of Labor circular called for the dismissal from public office and all governmental organizations and associations those: "who belong to any of the misguided sects recognized by all Muslims as heretical deviations from Islam, or to organizations whose doctrine and constitution are based on rejection of the divinely-revealed religions." Finally the mandatory requirement of specifying religion in application forms and official documents seriously limits Baha'is' freedoms and opportunities in all areas of their private lives, including marriage, divorce, inheritance, access to universities, and travel.

In practice, since 1980, thousands of Baha'is have lost their jobs, pensions, businesses, properties, and educational opportunities. By banning the Baha'i organization, an elected spiritual body that administers the affairs of the faith at both local and national levels, the Iranian authorities have denied Baha'is the right to meet, elect, and operate their religious institutions. Since the Islamic revolution, at least 200 Baha'is have been executed and scores more have been imprisoned, tortured, and pressured to convert to Islam.

Because of the unanimous international condemnation of the persecution of this quietist (apolitical) religious community, Iranian authorities do not always admit that the Baha'is are being punished for their religious beliefs. Therefore, Baha'is have often been charged with offenses such as, "being involved in counter-revolutionary activities" or "having supported the former regime", "being agents of Zionism", or "involvement with prostitution, adultery, and immorality."

The execution of Mr. Yadollah Ostani and 6 others was reported by the correspondent of the Jomhuri Eslami daily in Tabriz (July 15, 1980).

Arrest and detention

The circumstances of this defendant’s arrest and detention are not known.


There is no information available about the circumstances of the trial.


The defendant, referred to in the report as the “head of the Baha’i Assembly of Tabriz,” was charged with “collaboration with the decadent Pahlavi regime and the dissolved SAVAK”, “suppression of Muslim combatants”, “collaboration with the corrupted Israeli government”, and “uprising against Muslims.”

Evidence of guilt

The report does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant.


No information is available on Mr. Ostani’s defense.

However, the representatives of the Baha'i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They refute the validity of charges such as counter-revolutionary political activities or spying leveled against them in Iranian courts. They point out that the fundamental principles of their religion require them to show loyalty and obedience to their government and refrain from any political involvement. They believe that the accusation of espionage for Israel is unfounded and based solely on the fact that the Baha'i World Centre is in Israel. They point out that this centre was established on Mount Carmel in the late 19th century, long before the establishment of the State of Israel.


The Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Tabriz declared Mr. Ostani a “corruptor on earth” and sentenced him to death. He was executed in the evening.

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