Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Afshin Vali


Age: 12
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: June 9, 1990
Location of Killing: Hossein Abad Village, Savojbolagh, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Other extrajudicial method

About this Case

Information regarding the extrajudicial killing of Mr. Afshin Vali, son of Farangis Foroughi Arani and Ebadollah, was obtained from the report and interview of his brother, Mr. Payam Vali, with Radio Zamaneh – Farzad Seifikaran (June 16, 2021) and Facebook (June 26, 2022).

Mr. Vali was 12 years old and he was born into a Baha’i family.  He lived in the village of Hossein Abad, near the town of Nazar Abad, in Fars Province.  He was in seventh grade.  According to his brother, “He was an excellent student and his GPA was always perfect.” (Radio Zamaneh)

Mr. Vali’s family were repeatedly threatened by the leader of Friday Prayers and by the people of their village, because of their Baha’i beliefs. In 1986, when his family moved from Nazar Abad to the village of Hossein Abad, and started to build a house, they were subjected to pressure.  A Moslem youth from that village demolished the walls of this house several times at night.  One time, while he was tearing down the wall, this young man was arrested: “The youth whose name was Asghar told my brother, ‘We will not let more Baha’is move to our village to cast a spell on us and pollute our village’”. (Radio Zamaneh)

Another time, in 1989, this young man tried to kidnap Mr. Vali’s sister, but he was recognized during this crime.  Her father complained to the Nazar Abad Police station.  However, after the people of the village attempted to mediate and the young man formally apologized to her parents, the father withdrew his complaint.

In the early spring of 1990, the Leader of Friday Prayers in the village of Hossein Abad gave a lecture against Baha’is during the Friday Prayers.  His brother says, “Some of my friends gathered around me and told me that the cleric had said shedding the blood of Baha’is is allowed, and if someone kills a Baha’i all his sins will be forgiven and he will go to heaven. These few sentences had a profound effect on me and settled in my mind.  I have never forgotten.” (Radio Zamaneh)

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Background

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran - the largest religious minority, with approximately 300 thousand members in 1979(1)- to systematic harassment and persecution, depriving 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, and are banned from public functions. Discrimination under the law and in practice has subjected them to abuse and violence.(2)

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran is not specific to the time of the Islamic Republic but it was in this era that it was amplified and institutionalized. During the Revolution itself, supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini attacked Baha’i homes and businesses and in certain instances, even committed murder.

On the eve of his return from France to Iran, in response to a question regarding political and religious freedom of Baha’is under the rule of an Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini stated: “They are a political party; they are harmful and detrimental. They will not be acceptable.” The interviewer asked another question: “Will they be free to perform their religious rites?” The Ayatollah responded: “No.” Khomeini had previously “spoken of the Baha’i threat to the Shah’s regime, Islam, national unity, and national security” in various speeches. (Asoo website, October 6, 2015).

Mr. Afshin Vali’s Death 

According to available information, on Saturday, June 9, 1990, while he was playing in the village, Mr. Vali was killed by a severe blow to the head.  The killers threw his body in a qanat well in the village of Hossein Abad.

His brother talked about that event: “We were playing in the village.  After a while, I separated from Afshin and went to another area to play.  When I got home, I realized Afshin was not home yet.  My mother, brother, sister, and I looked for him all over the village for 5 hours, but we did not find a trace.”  He says, “I don’t know what possessed me to go to that well.  When I got there, I saw Afshin’s toy on the water.  The well was about 5 meters deep, and the water had risen about two and a half meters.  I didn’t see the body, but as soon as I saw the toy, I ran home.  With great difficulty I was able to point out the direction of the well to my older brother.  When they went there they found the body in the well, and they were able to take it out with the help of the neighbors. (Radio Zamaneh)

They took Mr. Vali’s body to the Coroner’s office: “At the coroner’s office, they verbally told the father that Afshin had not swallowed even one drop of water, and that he had not drowned.  However, they could see the signs of a heavy blow to the head, indicating he had died before falling into the water.” (Radio Zamaneh)

On June 10, 1990, Mr. Vali was laid to rest in the Baha’i Cemetery of Zarnan Shahriar.

On the day of Mr. Vali’s memorial gathering, which was held at the family home, about 200 friends and relatives came to pay their respects.

Officials’ Reaction

According to available information, the commander of the Nazar Abad Constabulary and two other officers, all dressed in uniforms, came to the memorial gathering to pay their condolences.

Even though the coroner had determined that the cause of Mr. Vali’s death was a heavy blow to the head, officials did not try to find the perpetrator.

Family’s Reaction

Mr. Vali’s father believed that his son had been killed by young men in the village, but he could not prove this.  “Eventually this secret was revealed when two young men from the village of Hossein Abad, Hokm Ali and Asghar passed away.  When the second one of these, Hokm Ali, died after 17 years, one of the people from Nazar Abad went to Mr. Payam Vali (brother) and told him that Asghar and Hokm Ali had killed his brother and had thrown his body into the qanat well.  At the time, the murderers had threatened to kill anybody who revealed this to the family.  That was why nobody had said anything while they were alive.” (Radio Zamaneh).  After a while, several other people from the village of Hossein Abad and the town of Nazar Abad told Mr. Vali’s brother the same story.

When a Baha’i citizen was killed by two youths in Yazd, Mr. Vali’s brother noted similarities between that murder and the murder of his brother.  He wrote 62 letters to officials and explained about the circumstances of his brother’s murder.  When this brother’s store was forcibly closed by the government, he went to the county administration office in Nazar Abad to follow up with this matter.  He says: “When the political deputy of the county administrator saw me, he became agitated and said, ‘Why did you write so many letters?  We get phone calls and letters from the Interior Ministry every day, telling us to go and investigate.  In the past two weeks, I have had to go to Hossein Abad three times to make inquiries about your brother.’  I asked him, “So what did you conclude?’  He said, ‘Didn’t such and such people kill your brother?’  I said, ‘Yes, they did.’  He said, ‘These two are dead.  You want to get revenge now?’” (Radio Zamaneh)

After 31 years, Mr. Vali’s brother is publishing a picture of his brother’s resting place.  He says: “I took this picture to break the silence.  I wanted to show that the reason for injustice and inequality may be our continued silence.  People have been complacent and have not risen against the oppression.  When they become aware, they will surely protest and they will oppose this system of oppression.”      

Impacts on Family

After 31 years, when Mr. Vali wants to talk about his brother, he is overcome with sorrow and he cannot speak.  “The pain and suffering caused by Afshin’s killing is still fresh and palpable in Payam’s voice.”  (Radio Zamaneh) 


1- ‘Slow Death for Iran’s Baha’is’ by Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine,20 February 1984. Also see ‘The Persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, 1844-1984, by Douglas Martin, Baha’i Studies,volume 12/13, 1984, p. 3. There is no information about the current number of Baha’is in Iran.
2- The Islamic Republic Penal Code grants no rights to Baha'is, and the courts have denied them the right to redress or to protection against assault, murder, 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 equal to acts of Parliament. The Founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made execution a punishment for the crime of apostasy and decreed that a Muslim would not be punished for killing an apostate. 

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