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

Mohammad Khan Zarghami Baseri

About

Age: 57
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Execution: December 31, 1980
Location: Fars, Iran
Mode of Execution: Shooting (extrajudicial)

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 right to liberty and security of the person. The right not to be subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention.

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Article 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 9.1.

  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the right to change and manifest one’s religion or belief.

    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.

    In its general comment 22 (48) of 20 July 1993, the United Nation’s Human Rights Committee observed that the freedom to "have or to adopt" a religion or belief necessarily entailed the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief. Article 18, paragraph 2, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert.

  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

    UDHR, Article 19; ICCPR, Article 19.1 and ICCPR, Article 19.2.

  • The right to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of one’s interests.

    UDHR, Article 20; ICCPR, Article 22.1.

The right to due process

    • 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.

Pre-trial detention rights

  • The right to know promptly and in detail the nature and cause of the charges against one.

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

  • The right to counsel of one’s own choosing or the right to legal aid. The right to communicate with one’s attorney in confidence

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

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

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.b.

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

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.g.

  • The right not to be subjected to torture and to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

    ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1 and Article 2.

Trial rights

  • The right to a fair and public trial.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1, Article 14.3.c.

  • The right to defense through an attorney or legal aid. The right to examine, or have examined, the witnesses against one, and the right to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on one’s behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses.

    ICCPR, Article 14.3.d and Article 14.3.e.

  • The right to have the decision rendered in public.

    ICCPR, Article 14.1.

Judgment rights

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

    ICCPR, Article 14.5.

  • The right to seek pardon or commutation of sentence.

    ICCPR, Article 6.4.

Capital punishment
  • The inherent right to life, of which no one shall be arbitrarily deprived.

    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 cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

    ICCPR, Article 7; Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Article 1Article 2%viol_ctcidp_2%.

About this Case

A trusted and well respected notable of Farse region, he wanted to see freedom established in Iran, but he was disillusioned with the outcome of the revolution and did not vote for the Islamic Republic.

The information about Mr. Mohammad Khan Zarghami Baseri’s assassination on December 31, 1980, is based on an electronic form sent to Omid by one of his children and an interview with her. Additional information has been drawn from Mr. Abdollah Shahbazi’s website, who is one of the founders of the Tehran-based Political Studies and Research Institute and its manager from the time of establishment in 1988 until 1998.

Mr. Zarghami Baseri was born in the Baseri tribe in 1923 and had 6 children. In addition to being a farmer, he was an influential figure in the region, the sheriff of his tribe in Qasrodasht Kamin (located in the southern province of Fars). When disagreements or fights broke out among the local residents and tribes, the parties went to Mr. Zarghami Baseri to mediate, as opposed to local state officials and courts. During the monarchy, at the time of the Shah’s land reforms, Mr. Zarghami Baseri was imprisoned and exiled for his disagreement with the state policy. Before the Revolution of 1979, he provided financial support for demonstrations opposing the monarchy. After February 1979, he was disillusioned with the outcome of the revolution, and did not participate in the referendum of April 1979. He even thought of leaving the country and refrained from further political activities.

According to his daughter, Mr. Zarghami Baseri “wanted to lead a peaceful family life. He enjoyed reading. He learned English in prison. He loved Marzieh’s songs” (a well-known Iranian singer).

In the morning of December 31, 1980, Mr. Zarghami Baseri and one of his employees were riding his vehicle toward his farm in Qasrodasht Kamin when they were shot and killed by Revolutionary Guards of Arsenjan (located in Fars Province). Mr. Zarghami Baseri was shot 11 times and his employee (whose name is not known) was shot once in the face. Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s daughter states that after the assassination, the Revolutionary Guards entered their house and expropriated his belongings as well as documents and birth certificates of family members. They sealed the doors to the house. They arrested two family members who had come to the house and took them to Arsenjan. They forced the family members to promise that the latter would not return to Qasrodasht Kamin.

Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s body was left on the ground until the afternoon when state agents transferred it to the local medical center. The interviewee says that she saw her father’s vehicle was full of bullet-holes. She states that the head of the Revolutionary Guards ordered the coroner to identify the cause of death as “laceration of the heart.” Only with much persistence, were family members able to retrieve the body from the officials. The family was told to bury the body in their house in Shiraz. At the funeral, not only did state agents prevent men from attending the ceremony, but they also distributed a leaflet signed by the Revolutionary Guards Corps of Arsenjan. In this leaflet, Mr. Zarghami Baseri was called “a fugitive spy.” Some of Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s male employees wore women’s veil (chador) in order to attend the funeral. He was buried next to his daughter, who had passed when she was 9. State agents reportedly had broken her marble gravestone and taken it away.

The interviewee says that the BBC radio as well as the Voice of Israel announced news of her father’s assassination. Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s properties as well as his brother’s and son’s vehicles were confiscated the day of his assassination. Additionally, his wife’s properties were also “temporarily” confiscated in 1981. More than one year after his death, the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Fars Province gave legitimacy to the confiscations.

Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s assassination and the confiscation on his property gave rise to protests of influential local residents and disagreements among state officials. Mr. Shahbazi emphasizes that “his assassination by ‘unknown’ men was carried out in violation of religious principles and without judicial sentence.” Ayatollah Montazeri also addressed this issue in his Diaries (Los Angeles: Ketab Corp., 2001) where he quotes a religious judge saying, some state officials “wanted to confiscate the Zarghami family’s properties but they could not find any reason for the confiscation, since they had inherited their property from previous generations. In the end, the officials found a Jewish person in the family, five generations before. They said that their property could be confiscated because of that; but I refused. Nevertheless, their property was eventually confiscated.” Local state officials emphasized to Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s wife that higher-ranking officials in Tehran had issued the order to confiscate their property.

On February 26, 1982, a member of the High Judicial Council issued a verdict, over a telephone conversation with the judge of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Fars concerning the confiscation of Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s property. The latter then wrote the sentence, which reads:

“In the name of God, based on a phone conversation with Hojjatoleslam Mo’men, esteemed member of the High Judicial Council, regarding careful calculation of late Mohammad Khan Zarghami’s illegitimate belongings… [such calculation] is impossible… After some negotiation, he [Hojjatoleslam Mo’men] said, ‘If he [the deceased] had legitimate income… it was spent for all his debauchery and extravaganza, equal to his wealth. Additionally, they [the family] took many belongings after they found out that the belongings were to be confiscated. This is certain and final decision that what is left is totally illegitimate and subject to confiscation.’”

Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s family members were not safe from harassment and unfair treatment of the local officials. In November 1982, when Mr. Zarghami Baseri’s wife, Mr. Agha Bibi Sheibani visited a local office to ask for the return of her confiscated property, she was arrested and detained and 4 months. During her detention, prison officials beat her head against the wall. She died four days after her release from prison due to brain hemorrhage (March 11, 1983). Their children’s property was confiscated in the early 1980s.

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