Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Ahmad Na'imabadi


Age: 22
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Unknown


Date of Killing: June 15, 2009
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Arbitrary shooting
Charges: Unknown charge

About this Case

Mr. Na’imabadi was twenty-two and back in school, following his mandatory military service.  He enrolled in film and animation studies and kept up, some, with politics.

Information about Mr. Ahmad Na’imabadi was obtained from an interview with his mother on Rooz Online (June 1, 2010). Additional information was obtained from the Human Rights Activists in Iran News Agency website (July 21, 2009); the list of “72 Martyrs of the Green Movement” by Ali Reza Beheshti (a campaign manager for the 2009 presidential candidate Mir Hossein Musavi), which was published on the Norooz website on September 4, 2009; the list of the casualties of the post-2009 presidential election unrest posted on the Parcham website (October 3, 2009); and from Ms. Ma’sumeh Ebtekar’s blog (September 24, 2009).

Mr. Na’imabadi was born on March 22, 1987. He was in his first year at university, studying film production and animation. He had completed his compulsory military service.

On June 15, 2009, Mr. Na’imabadi participated in a demonstration protesting the presidential election results. He was shot by the Basij forces of Ashura, Battalion 117, near Azadi Square in Tehran. He died in his brother’s presence soon after being shot. He was 22 years old.

On June 15, 2009, a demonstration to protest the result of the presidential election took place in Tehran. Several people were killed or injured by paramilitary forces of the Basij as the demonstration came to an end and people began to disperse. The Basij forces of Ashura, Battalion 117, opened fire on protesters from the rooftop and through the windows of their building located at the beginning of the Mohammad Ali Jenah Highway on the north side of Azadi Square. Video clips of these shootings, posted on YouTube, showed tens of protesters in front of this Basij building chanting slogans. Direct clashes between people and Basij forces were not seen in these clips. However, the videos clearly showed the Basij members shooting at people from the rooftop and through the windows; and gunshot noises could be heard as well as scenes of civilians moving injured people. During an interview with the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, an eyewitness present at the time of these shootings by Basij forces stated: “The crowd was so huge that a large demonstration took place everywhere people went. Around 7:00 p.m., I walked north from Azadi Square towards the Ariashahr neighborhood. The crowd was chanting slogans… We went far away from Azadi Square. The number of military forces on the streets – wearing multi-colored clothes – gradually increased. Black clothed agents were also present on the streets. There was a limited number of police. We walked for about 800 meters or a kilometer when I heard a noise. People said it was the sound of shooting. We turned around. It was not evident where the noise came from… I heard the sound of a machine gun shooting a round of bullets and then heard single shots being fired. The crowd pointed towards one place. I saw a building that was crowded… On the rooftop, Basij members were moving about, but it was not very clear what was going on. I turned back and saw a young boy who was shot in his side and was bleeding severely.” This eyewitness emphasized that people nearby the Basij building were not armed. The exact number of victims in this incident is unknown.

Mr. Na’imabadi’s body was taken to the Rasul Akram Hospital. Hospital personnel stated that they had to deliver his body – along with eight other bodies – to the Ministry of Intelligence. Mr. Na’imabadi’s family located his body a week later when a person from the coroner’s office contacted the family and asked them to visit the office at the Kahrizak coroner’s office to identify it.

At the Kahrizak coroner’s morgue, the Na’imabadi family saw a pile of blood-stained clothes in a corner of the room. Mr. Na’imabadi’s body was bare and his family members saw stitches on his body (Rooz Online). Mr. Na’imabadi’s belongings were not returned to the family. A pair of shoes was given to his mother, who says, “We were given shoes that did not belong to my son… The officials did not return his mobile phone, wallet, or clothes. I wanted to keep those things to remember him by, but we were even denied that.” On their second visit, the family members were told that the clothes they had seen piled up on the ground were destroyed.

Officials’ Reaction

Mr. Na’imabadi’s family’s house was under state surveillance from the time of his death until his body was returned to the family. According to Mr. Na’imabadi’s mother, “if anyone wanted to come to our house, an agent would stop them and ask numerous questions.” The family was not allowed to hold a ceremony at the burial. A memorial service was held at a mosque the day after the burial, but the family was given a document that stated that they could only say religious prayers and could not speak about Mr. Na’imabadi. His mother says that the banners and signs put up to convey condolences to the family were taken down. Staff of the Behesht-e Zahra cemetery told the family that they had erased the word “martyr” from his gravestone (Rooz Online).

Following Mr. Na’imabadi’s death, the family filed a complaint with the criminal prosecution office. Seven months later, in January 2010, state officials informed the family that the criminal prosecution office would not investigate the case and that they should contact the prosecution office of the armed forces. Officials from the latter advised the family against publicizing information about Mr. Na’imabadi’s death, while encouraging them to accept blood money. (Blood money is typically provided by the party that caused a victim’s death. If the victim’s family accepts blood money, they in effect will have withdrawn any legal claim against the party causing the death.) The authorities threatened the family saying, “it is in your benefit not to speak about this, and not to worsen your circumstances any further” (Rooz Online).

In late May 2010, officials informed the Na’imabadi family that Mr. Ahmad Na’imabadi was killed by a shotgun used for hunting and therefore the prosecution office of the armed forces could not investigate the case. The authorities also encouraged the family, once again, to accept the blood money. According to Mr. Na’imabadi’s mother, the judge assigned to the case consistently pressured the family not to speak publicly about their son’s death.

The Family’s Reaction

After Mr. Na’imabadi was shot and killed, his family filed a complaint with the criminal prosecution office in June 2009 and another complaint with the prosecution office of the armed forces in January 2010. The family stated that they would not accept blood money and that they would continue their efforts to find out who shot their son. Mr. Na’imabadi’s mother said, “they simply killed my son and then called him a hooligan and then likened him to ‘dirt and dust.’* My son spent hours standing in a long line to vote. The television showed the voting stations’ lines and Mr. Khamene’i [the Supreme Leader] thanked those who voted. Until then, we and our children were still good people. How did we suddenly become dirt and dust? The judge continually pressured us not to speak up. Why not? We only want to find out who killed our son… They’re playing a game, they know who killed our children and they know who ordered the killings. But they keep saying don’t speak up, it’s in your interest.” She went on to say, “They told us to accept blood money. We don’t want money; we want to know who killed our son… I will not calm down until they reveal who killed my son and who gave the order. I will not calm down until they are brought to justice” (Rooz Online).


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.

*‘Dirt and dust’ is a reference to President Ahmadinejad’s statement of June 14, 2009, denigrating the demonstrators protesting against the presidential election: “the nation’s huge river will not permit any opportunity for the expression of dirt and dust.”

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