Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Ya'qub Barvayeh


Age: 27
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: July 1, 2009
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Arbitrary shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Information regarding Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh was taken from the Amirkabir Newsletter on July 13, 2009, HRANA (Human Rights Activists News Agency) and Fars News Agency on July 21, 2009, Radio France Internationale on July 22, 2009, YouTube video clips, and a person close to Mr. Barvayeh who wishes to remain anonymous.

Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh, 27, was a graduate student at the Performance Art, Literature, and Architecture Department of Azad University in Tehran. His family resides in the south western province of Khuzestan. He earned his master’s degree in the town Arak (in Central Province). He was a hard working person who tried hard to be accepted in a graduate school program and went to Tehran to continue his education. He liked literature and poetry and was a talented creative writer. He wrote reviews of plays for newspapers. Those who knew him, remember him as a kind and warm person without any flaws.

After days of public protests against the presidential election results, the state’s suppression entered a new phase on June 20, 2009. Public gatherings were violently suppressed by Basij and plain clothes forces in various parts of Tehran. Basij forces shot people from the rooftop of their base at the Lolagar Mosque, which his located at the intersection of Navab and Azarbaijan streets. Several individuals were injured or killed. The exact number of casualties is unknown. On June 25, 2009, footage of Basijis shooting from the rooftop of their base was broadcast by various news channels, including Al Jazeera. Additionally, there are other video clips taken with cell phone cameras posted on YouTube, which clearly show two persons being shot. In reaction to this attack, the Basij base at the Lolagar Mosque was set on fire by angry protesters. On June 21, state-run television reported that several individuals were killed due to a fire at the Lolagar Mosque started by rioters during early evening prayers the previous night. However, video footage, broadcast on Iranian television, showed that the incident occurred during the day. Additionally, the report of the deaths was refuted on the same day by Radio France Internationale (Radio France Internationale, June 21, 2009).

According to the information available, on June 20, 2009, Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh, along with some of his friends, was returning home from the university after he finished an exam. His home was located two alleys from the Lolagar mosque. His friends lost track of him in the smoke of tear gas that was sprayed in the area. Mr. Barvayeh was shot in the head by Basiji forces. He was transferred to the hospital by people who were with him on the street. He remained in a coma for eleven days and died on July 1, 2009. His body was buried in the Barvayeh village near Ahvaz.

Official Reaction

According to a person close to him, when Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh was hospitalized no official asked about his condition. According to the same source, officials issued an active Basij ID for Mr. Barvayeh after his death. Normally, there is a ceremony to honor killed Basijis; however, there was no such ceremony by Islamic Republic officials for Mr. Barvayeh and no official mentioned of him as a member of Basij. It has been reported that officials, using intimidation and enticement, had tried to convince families of people who had been killed, to testify that their sons and daughters were in fact Basij. It appears as though these contradicting reports through various websites are an effort by the State to obfuscate and disrupt the flow of reliable information about those killed during the post-election unrest.

Victim’s Family

According to an informed source, when friends of Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh lost track of him in front of Lolagar mosque, they had no news of him for four days. Finally, when they were watching a BBC report, they saw a video of him on the ground and injured. After searching for him around town, they found him at the Loqman Hospital in a coma.

After Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh was shot, contradictory reports and interviews with his parents were published. Some of these reports were rejected later or questioned as to their authenticity.

In an interview with Fars news agency on the day after his death, Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh’s father stated that “my son …was martyred for the Islamic Republic of Iran.” But he did not state who killed his son. Meanwhile, according to a source familiar with this case, Mr. Barvayeh’s father was intimidated by the government to make this statement. According to this source, Mr. Ya’qub Barvayeh was a sympathizer of presidential candidate Mr. Musavi.


Election returns from Iran’s June 12th, 2009, presidential election declared Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected with 62.63 percent of the vote. Following the announcement, citizens disputing these official results demonstrated in the streets. Text messaging services were disrupted starting at 11:00 p.m. on the night before the election and remained unavailable for nearly three weeks, until July 1st. On Election Day, the deputy chief of Iranian police announced a ban on any gathering of presidential candidates’ supporters throughout the country. The same evening, security forces made a “show of strength,” increasing their presence in Tehran’s public squares to “reinforce security at polling stations.” Officials at election headquarters began reporting results soon after midnight, despite a statement from the Minister of the Interior that the first returns would not be announced until after the morning prayer (around 4:00 a.m.).

Many supporters of other presidential candidates came out into the streets on June 13th, once the results were made public, to protest what they believed to be a fraudulent election. Candidates Mir Hossein Musavi, Mehdi Karubi, and Mohsen Reza’i, Ahmadinejad’s competitors in the race, contested the election, alleging many instances of fraud. They filed complaints with the Council of Guardians, the constitutional body charged with vetting candidates before elections take place and approving the results afterwards, requesting an annulment and calling for a new election. Before the Council of Guardians could review their claims, however, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, congratulated Ahmadinejad on his re-election. In the meantime, many people active in Karubi’s and Musavi’s campaigns were arrested.

On June 15th, unprecedented demonstrations filled the streets of central Tehran, in which an estimated three million protestors participated, according to statements attributed to the mayor of Tehran. As the demonstrations were ending, paramilitary forces attacked the marchers, injuring and killing several people. To prevent such news from being broadcast, the Iranian government expelled foreign journalists from the country and banned news agencies from reporting on the events. Over the next three days, protesters took part in peaceful demonstrations in Tehran. The repression entered a new phase on June 19th after Ayatollah Khamenei’s Friday sermon. The speech was understood by many, including Amnesty International, as giving “legitimacy to police brutality.” The next day and thereafter, police and plainclothes paramilitary groups attacked the protesters. Public gatherings of any kind were declared illegal, and police, motorcycle-riding special units wearing black uniforms and helmets, and plainclothes agents brutally enforced this restriction.

Individuals in civilian clothing, commonly referred to as plainclothes forces, are used in the Islamic Republic to disrupt political and trade union activities, student events and gatherings, electoral initiatives, and protests. Armed with sticks and clubs, and sometimes with chains, knives, batons, or firearms, they emerge when the state decides to suppress dissent. These plainclothes forces move about freely, violently beating protesters and arresting them, while the police passively look on or actively cooperate with them.

There is little information on the command structure and organization of such groups, whose members wear ordinary clothing rather than official uniforms and may be affiliated with the ministry of information, influential political groups, or the armed forces. Following the post-election demonstrations in June 2009, pictures of some plainclothes agents were posted on internet websites. Internet users helped to identify some of them and provided evidence that these individuals were affiliated with the Basij paramilitary groups, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and state intelligence forces. On September 16, 2009, a deputy commander of the Revolutionary Guards Corps of the Province of Tehran confirmed the active and decisive role of Basij forces in the repression of the demonstrations, saying, “Basijis, through their presence in recent events, have blinded the eyes of the conspirators, and they should be appreciated… The enemies of Islam wanted to make the air dusty and to exploit the recent events, but thank God, through the enlightenment of the Honorable Leader we were victorious against this conspiracy.” He also emphasized, “The zealous youth of [the] Basij, believers in the Guardianship of the Jurisprudent, are the second and third generations of the Revolution. They have been successful in this stage and victorious on this battlefield.”

When personal property was damaged during the protests, government authorities and state-run radio and television programs accused the demonstrators of vandalism and justified the repression. At the same time, however, footage posted online showed security forces destroying and damaging property on side streets and in uncongested areas away from the protests. Moreover, in a public gathering in Tehran on October 20th, the chief of Iranian police conceded that police had destroyed and damaged property and accepted responsibility for it.

The precise number of citizens injured, killed, or disappeared in the post-election violence is not known. According to various reports, there were hundreds of victims in demonstrations throughout the country. More than seventy names have been reported. It is said that officials have threatened victims’ family members, demanding their silence and that they refrain from giving interviews. Reports also allege that returning a victim’s body to a family has been made conditional upon their agreement to change the cause of death listed on the coroner’s certificate to that of a heart attack or some other natural cause — thus foregoing the right to file a complaint — as well as the family's agreement not to hold memorial services for the loved one.

According to government statements, more than 4,000 people were arrested throughout Iran in the weeks following June 12th. Many have been held at the Kahrizak Detention Center, where prisoners’ rights and minimum hygiene standards were typically ignored. Numerous reports of violence, including the torture and rape of detainees, have been published. State reports and testimonies confirm that a number of detainees at Kahrizak died in custody due to beatings, difficult and unbearable prison conditions, and torture.

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