Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Puya Maqsudbeigi


Nationality: Iran
Religion: Presumed Muslim
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: June, 2009
Location of Killing: Kermanshah, Kermanshah Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Extrajudicial killing
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

In the election aftermath, authorities turned to preserving “calm” and keeping weapons out of Kermanshah.  Mr. Maqsudbeigi, a medical student, was taken in for unknown reasons.

The information about Mr. Puya Maqsudbeigi was taken from the E’temad newspaper (June 21, 2009; August 3, 2009), the Change for Equality’s website (August 1, 2009), Rooz (August 3, 2009), the Green Path Movement (August 10, 2009), the Committee of Human Rights Reporters’ website (September 4, 2009), the Green Innocent Martyrs’ website, and the website of the League for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran.

Mr. Maqsudbeigi was a senior student at the School of Medicine in Kermanshah.

Based on information available, Mr. Maqsudbeigi was arrested by security forces on Saturday June 20, 2009 and was taken to Kermanshah prison where he was tortured. He was released but died as a result of injuries suffered while in detention. The exact date of his death is not known.

Officials’ Reaction

On June 21, 2009, the E’temad newspaper reported the director of the Ministry of Justice office in Kermanshah stating that 50 to 60 of those arrested in the post-election unrest, had been released. He described the atmosphere in Kermanshah province as “calm” and said “the borders are patrolled to prevent the import of weapons.”

Local officials arrested Ms. Zahra Nozari, Mr. Maqsudbeigi’s mother, on August 1, 2009 at 10 p.m. as she held a one-person sit-in in front of the Ministry of Intelligence office in Kermanshah. The sit-in, which lasted only one day and ended with Ms. Nozari’s arrest, was to protest the authorities’ failure to investigate her son’s death. The Rooz correspondent reported that Ms. Nozari’s friends and relatives “are under pressure and have chosen to remain silent… Many of the recent victims’ families are under pressure, hence the names of some victims are still unknown. Some families, forced to pay for bullets that caused their children’s death, have been forced to state that they do not have grievance against Iranian security forces. Some family members were even forced to announce that Mir Hossein Musavi [a presidential candidate] is responsible for their children’s death.”


Ms. Nozari, Mr. Maqsudbeigi’s mother, protested officials’ failure to investigate her son’s death. She covered her body with mud and held a one-person sit-in in front of the Ministry of Intelligence office in Kermanshah. She was arrested on the first day. She was held incommunicado for at least 9 days.


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, in which he announced his support for Ahmadinejad and warned protestors that they were responsible for any disorder and its consequences. Amnesty International stated that the speech gave “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.

Correct/ Complete This Entry