Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Sirru'llah Vahdat-Nizami


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


Date of Killing: May 4, 1986
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Unspecified execution method
Charges: Religious offense

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."

Mr. Sirru'llah Vahdat-Nizami is one of the 206 Iranian Baha’is listed in a 1993 report published by the Baha’i International Community. The report documents the persecution of the members of the Faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran and lists the Baha’is killed since 1978.

Arrest and detention

No information is available on the circumstances of this defendant's arrest and detention.


No information is available on Mr. Vahdat-Nizami's trial, including whether or not he had legal counsel.


The charges against Mr. Vahdat-Nizami are not known.

Evidence of guilt

No information is available on the evidence presented against the defendant.


No information is available on Mr. Vahdat-Nizami's defense.

However, the representatives of the Baha'i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They note that Baha'is' requests to access their files are usually denied, and access to attorneys is often denied. 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.


This defendant was sentenced to death and executed. Baha'is have reported to human rights organizations that the text of sentences is often not communicated to them.

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