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

Taha Kermanj


Age: 35
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Married


Date of Execution: January 4, 1994
Location: Turkey
Mode of Killing: Shooting (extrajudicial)
Charges: Unknown charge

Human rights violations in this case

Extrajudicial killings

Since the inception of the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979, national and international human rights organizations have blamed the Islamic Republic authorities for the extrajudicial killing of their opponents, both within and outside of Iran's borders. Although over two hundred cases have been reported, the exact number of victims remains unknown.

Extrajudicial executions carried out in Iran are rarely investigated; the few cases that have been investigated have indicated that the Iranian state security apparatus has been involved. Agents of the Islamic Republic have also targeted dissidents outside the country, assassinating opposition members in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and in the United States,.

In many assassination cases outside Iran, local authorities have made no arrests. However, investigations, when they have taken place and been made public, have led to the single hypothesis of State ordered crimes. The organization and execution of these crimes constitute a pattern that Swiss prosecutor Roland Chatelain describes as “common parameters” following a “meticulous preparation.” Similarities between different cases in different countries have created a coherent set of presumptions designating the Islamic Republic as the instigator of these assassinations.


In cases involving prominent Iranians assassinated in France, Germany, and Switzerland, local prosecutors have provided evidence linking Iranian authorities to the crimes in question.


In France, for example, the Iranian Deputy Minister of Telecommunications has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the 1991 murder of two dissidents. In Germany, agents of Iran's secret services and Lebanese Hezbollah have been convicted for the 1992 murder of four dissidents in Berlin. Currently, the Islamic Republic's Minister of Information and Security at the time of this murder is under an International arrest Warrant launched by German judicial authorities for his involvement.


The German court in Berlin found that Iran's political leadership ordered the murder through a "Committee for Special Operations," whose members reportedly include the Leader of the Islamic Republic, the President, the Minister of Information and Security, and other security officials.

The Islamic Republic’s officials have claimed responsibility for some of these assassinations while denying involvement in others. In the 1980s, Iranian authorities justified extrajudicial executions of dissidents and members of the former regime and actively worked for the release of Iranians and non-Iranian agents who were detained or convicted in the West for their involvement in those killings. During the 1990s, they systematically denied any involvement in extrajudicial killings and often credited the killings to infighting amongst the opposition.


Still, the rationale supporting these killings was articulated as early as in the spring of 1979 when the First Revolutionary religious judge publicly announced the regime's intention to carry out extrajudicial executions. He said:


“no state has the right to try as a terrorist the person who kills [exiles] in foreign lands, for this person is implementing the verdict issued by the Islamic Revolutionary tribunal.”


More than a decade later, in August, 1992, the Minister of Intelligence and Security publicly boasted about the success of Iran's security forces, alluding to the elimination of dissidents:


"We have been able to deal blows to many of the mini-groups outside the country and on the borders...."

Human rights violations

Based on the available information, the following human rights have been violated in this case:

    • The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived, and the right to liberty and security of the person.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3 ; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 6.1; Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, Article 1.1, Article 1.2.

    • The right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honor and reputation.

UDHR, Article 12, ICCPR, Article 17.1.

    • The right to freedom of religion and thought.

UDHR, Article 18; ICCPR, Article 18.1, ICCPR, Article 18.2; Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief, Article 1 and Article 6.

    • The right to freedom of opinion and expression.

UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.3.

The right to due process :

    • a. The right to access one's file and the right to know in detail and exactly the charges against one.

UDHR, Article 9(2); ICCPR, Article 9.2 and Article 14.3.a.

    • b. The right to be presumed innocent until found guilty by a competent and impartial tribunal in accordance with law.

ICCPR, Article 14.1 and Article 14.2.

    • c. The right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of the defense case.

ICCPR, ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.

    • d. The right to counsel or legal aid.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.d ; Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, Article 1 , Article 2 Article 5 , Article 6, Article 8.

    • e. The right to a fair and public trial.

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

    • f. The right to examine, or have examined the witnesses against one and to obtain the attendance and examination of defense witnesses under the same conditions as witnesses for the prosecution.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.e.

    • g. The right not to be compelled to testify against oneself or to confess to guilt.

ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.

    • h. The right to have the decision rendered in public.

ICCPR, Article 14.1.

    • i. The right to appeal to a court of higher jurisdiction.

ICCPR, Article 14.5.

    • j. The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

ICCPR, Article 6.4.

    • h. The right not to be tried or punished again for an offence for which the accused has already been convicted or acquitted.

ICCPR, Article 14.7.

About this Case

Mr. Kermanj, member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kordestan, waited with family in Corum, Turkey for asylum in a third country.

According to a report by Amnesty International (1995): "Taha Kermanj, a ... refugee in Turkey and an active member of the KDPI, was killed in Corum on January 4, 1994. He was shot dead while walking near his home with his son-in-law who was injured in the attack. He was a recognized refugee, awaiting resettlement a third country. Before moving to Turkey in early 1993, Taha Kermanj had lived in Iraqi Kurdistan where he had allegedly received threats from Iranian agents."

According to an Amnesty International report: "Since 1992 a number of other Iranian dissidents in Turkey have been killed in suspicious circumstances, suggesting that they may have been extrajudicially executed by Iranian government agents... In September 1992, Iran and Turkey signed a protocol to ‘guarantee the security of the Turkish-Iranian border, adopt the necessary measures to achieve this, and conduct continuous and effective cooperation. In their own countries, Turkey and Iran will prevent the actions, which are considered criminal by the country, of terrorist organizations and of all opposition persons and groups that engage in activities against the state structure, territorial integrity, and legal administration of the other country.' This agreement came only days after the Iranian Minister of Information and Security, Hojatoleslam Ali Fallahian, had reportedly said on Tehran television, 'We have been able to deal blows to many of the mini-groups outside the country and on the borders. As you know, one of the active mini-groups is the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which operates through two groups, the main group and the auxiliary branch, in Kurdistan. There is also Komeleh [Komala]. We were able to deal vital blows to their cadres last year. The main and auxiliary organizations of both KDP and Komeleh were dealt severe blows and their activities were reduced'."

"Amnesty International includes in its definition of extrajudicial executions the killing of specific individuals which can reasonably be assumed to be the result of government policy at any level." 

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