Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Mokhtar Rahimi

About

Age: 33
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: August 2, 2016
Location of Killing: Raja’i Shahr (Gohardasht) Prison, Karaj, Alborz Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God
Age at time of offense: 26

About this Case

Mr. Rahimi made and sold handicrafts in prison in order to provide for his wife and child

News of Mr. Mokhtar Rahimi and 24 other individuals’ execution was published by various sources including IRNA (August 3, 2016), IRIB News Agency (August 3, 2016), Fars News Agency (August 2, 2016), Khorassan Newspaper (August 4, 2016), HRANA (August 3, 2016), Kurdistan Human Rights Defenders Center (August 3, 2016), and the Amnesty International Report (November 17, 2016). Additional information about this execution was obtained through a Boroumand Foundation interview with a person close to Mr. Rahimi, from an Information Ministry Announcement (Islamic Republic of Iran Information Ministry website, August 3, 2016), Kurdistan Province Judiciary Announcement (Fars New Agency, August 2, 2016), from Mr. Rahimi’s video message recorded in prison and broadcast on YouTube (August 22, 2016), and from other sources.*

Mr. Mokhtar Rahimi was a Kurd residing in [the city of] Sanandaj’s poor neighborhood of “Qaradian”. He was married and had an 8 year old child. He had an eighth grade education and had a CNG [natural gas dispenser] store. According to a person who knew him, Mr. Rahimi was a religious man, a follower of the Shafe’i** branch of Islam who was not affiliated with any particular group or organization and had not participated in any religious and faith-based classes of the adherents of the Sunni faith prior to his arrest. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

According to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, he was a forgiving, quiet, and kind man who liked children. In prison, in addition to studying religious subjects of the Sunni faith, he made handicrafts and decorative objects and sold them in order to provide for himself, his wife, and his only child. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Sunni defendants’ families’ correspondence, including Mr. Rahimi’s, with the Leader, the Head of the Judiciary, and the President, as well as sit-ins and follow-ups with the authorities in protesting the arrest and issuance of a death sentence, bore no fruit. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

According to the Amnesty International report, security forces threatened Mr. Rahimi’s family and lawyers in order to prevent them from releasing information about the cases and to stop them from giving interviews to media and human rights organizations.

Background

Based on available information, in the years 2007 to 2009-10, Shi’a evangelists hurled numerous insults at Sunni beliefs and Sunni respected figures, with severe backlash from Sunni religious figures and activists. Following famous Shi’a movie director Ebrahim Hatamikia’s offensive statements about Aisha, the Prophet’s wife, in Khanevadeye Sabz (“Green Family”) Magazine (Volume 195, 2007-08), and statements made by several well-known preachers such as Hojjatoleslams Daneshmand, Juybari, and Ansari – whose speeches were covered by [IRIB,] state radio and television in certain instances – a number of religious Sunni youth from Kurdistan (who considered these insults as being organized) proceeded to hold classes, distribute books and CD’s in local mosques, universities, and their neighborhoods, protesting against these actions and raising awareness, as well as promoting and defending the tenets of the Shafe’i religion.**  These CD’s contained documented instances of offensive language used against Sunni beliefs, quoted from well-known religious sources of the Shi’a religion such as Bohar-ol-Anvar. The religious activities of these young people raised the security apparatus’ sensitivity.

Subsequent to Ayatollah Khamenei’s trip to Sanandaj in April-May 2009, several young Sunni Kurd religious activists were arrested in the name of fighting Salafi and Takfiri (term used to denote Sunni extremists such as al-Qaeda and ISIS) movements. Three months later, a number of assassinations were carried out in Sanandaj, including Mamusta Sheikh-ol-Eslam, member of the Assembly of Experts, and Molla Borhan Aali, a Sunni cleric. Security forces accused certain individuals of murder, who had been arrested after these assassinations. The arrestees denied any connection to armed, extremist, or radical groups, objected to the charges brought against them, and asked for a new and public trial, to no avail. Ultimately, six of the arrestees were executed in December 2012-January 2013, and six others on March 4, 2015. Also, continuing this process, 25 others, named “the Unity and Jihad Group”, were put to death on August 2, 2016.

The issuance and implementation of the death penalty for this group of Sunni adherents, was followed by the reaction of numerous domestic and international individuals and organizations. On June 12, 2014, eighteen human rights organizations, including the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation and a human rights lawyer, protested the sentences in a declaration and demanded that they be rescinded. Furthermore, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Defenders, and the Abdorrahman Borumand Foundation (December 31, 2014) issued several declarations and calls to action, demanding the rescission of the death sentences issued for the defendants of the case, and asking for a just, transparent, and public trial. Well-known Sunni figures such as Molavi Abdolhamid, Zahedan’s Sunni Friday Prayers leader, Hassan Amini, Sananadaj’s Imam Bokharai Seminary’s mufti and school director, and Molana Gergij, Azadshahr Sunni Friday Prayers leader, asked for the immediate rescission of the Sunni prisoners’ death sentences by sending open letters to the Islamic Republic’s Leader and the heads of the Judiciary, Legislative, and Executive branches. (Al-Arabiah, September 18, 2012). The Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation and 21 other human rights organizations issued a declaration condemning the implementation of the prisoners’ death sentences and asked for the immediate abolition of the death penalty. (August 16, 2016).

Arrest and detention

On October 14, 2009, Sanandaj Information Administration agents violently arrested Mr. Rahimi and his brother at their place of business in front of their father, without providing an arrest warrant, and took them to Sanandaj Information Administration detention center. He contacted his family by phone after 15 days, and visited with them in December 2009 for 15 minutes, in the presence of Sanandaj Information Administration agents at the Sanandaj Information Administration News Headquarters. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

In an audio file recorded in prison, Mr. Rahimi stated the following was the reason for his arrest: “I was arrested for inviting people to ‘Towhid’ (“monotheism”) and to worship the one and only God, and for shedding light on the true beliefs of the adherents of the Sunni faith, and keeping people away from polytheism, blasphemy, and idol worship… and for defending the violated rights of the adherents of the Sunni faith...” (File broadcast on YouTube, August 22, 2016).

Mr. Rahimi had been tortured while being arrested as well as in detention. He described the manner of his arrest: “As soon as they arrested me, they put me in a car and we drove toward the Information [Administration building]. In the car, I repeatedly asked why they had arrested me but they answered me with beatings and clubs. They simply would not answer me, and that was how they took me inside the Sanandaj Infrmation [building]. Once inside, they pushed me in a room where several people attacked me and beat me, and gave me electric shocks; it was that type of torture.” (File broadcast on YouTube, August 22, 2016).

Based on available documentation, Mr. Rahimi had told people close to him: “It’s a 10-minute drive from the store to the Information [building] and they would hit me with an electric club once every minute. When we got to Information, there were three huge guys in the interrogation room who slapped me in the face and tortured me with electric clubs until that night, without asking any questions. They were so big that I seemed like a little kid compared to them. They tortured me like that for four months; they beat me for two days and then the interrogator asked me some questions and I told him that I didn’t know anything at all. He would say: “You don’t know anything at all?” and would leave and those three big guys would return and hit me in the leg with clubs. They hit me so hard that my legs burned and I had to perform my prayers in a seated position for three days. In those three days, I had to add up my prayers because I didn’t know whether it was day or night or even what time it was. They wouldn’t even let me go to the bathroom and perform ablution, and all I could do was “Tayammom” (“performing ablution with earth or sand instead of water) and then pray. They beat me so much with electric clubs that all my clothes burned. They tortured me so much that my contact lenses moved. They tortured me for three days without interrogating me and I was alone in that room.” (Boroumand Foundation interview). Based on available information, after spending 6 months at the Sanandaj Information Administration detention center, Mr. Rahimi and three other defendants were transferred to Zanjan Prison’s solitary confinement cells at the “solitary” Hall, where he was held there for 110 days. He was deprived of going to the yard, phone contacts, and visitation with his family during detention. (File broadcast on YouTube, August 22, 2016).

Mr. Rahimi was subsequently transferred to Zanjan Information Administration detention center where he was held for 18 months. According to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, he and the other defendants in this case were under pressure and tortured in various ways such as turning on the heat in the warm season and cold air in the winter. He was allowed phone contacts with his family every 10 days, and visitations with them in the Zanjan Information Administration detention center yard every two and a half months. He was deprived of access to an attorney during detention. (Boroumand Foundation interview). 

On December 22, 2011, Mr. Rahimi and several other Sunni defendants were transferred to Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison’s Hall 10, which is known as the Sunni adherents’ Hall. (File broadcast on YouTube, August 22, 2016).

In September-October 2013, Information Administration forces transferred Mr. Maleki and several other Sunni defendants to Evin Prison Ward 240 for eight months, for having contact with the media through Telegram and WhatsApp and for providing information regarding the execution of six Sunni prisoners in December 2012. During that period, he only had one cabin visitation with his family, and one 20-minute in-person visitation on another occasion. Then, in April-May 2014, he was taken to Rajaishahr Prison once again. (Boroumand Foundation interview). 

According to the attorney for several of the prisoners who were executed along with Mr. Rahimi, these prisoners’ families lived in poverty. Had the prisoners been incarcerated in their own towns, they could have visited them once a week but in Tehran they could only visit them once every few months, and when they did come to Tehran for visitations, they had nowhere to stay. (Euronews, August 8, 2016).

Based on available information, Rajaishahr Prison guards insulted Mr. Rahimi’s family and the families of other Sunni prisoners when they came to visit. A person with knowledge described the prison guard’s treatment of the Sunni prisoners’ families during visitations as follows: “They would allow visitations once a month for 20 minutes, with prison guards insulting us. For instance, they would say: ‘Hello hello, al-Qaeda, Wahabis, Salafis,’ in a very mocking and derisive manner. They insulted us every which way in order to bother us… They would bring guards for inspection, in a very offensive way. For example, if our kids had something in their mouth, they would tell them to throw it in the trash can. When we would go for in-person visitations, there would be a wall between us, like an open kitchen. Baha’is and Shia’s, for example, their guys were free, but we weren’t. Even when we wanted to take our prisoner’s hand, the guards would say: ‘Bring your hands down’. We weren’t even allowed to touch our prisoner. Even when a mother wanted to hug her imprisoned child, a guard would stand between them. They had brought the prisoner themselves and we had been thoroughly inspected downstairs; what could we possibly pass to our prisoner?! They would stand there so no one would whisper into the prisoner’s ears. We even had trouble sending our children to the other side of the short wall.” (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Trial

In 2013-14, Tehran Revolutionary Court Branch 28 tried Mr. Rahimi and four other defendants in a closed door session. The trial, presided by Judge Mohammad Moghisseh, lasted only 10 minutes and was conducted in the presence of Sanandaj Information Administration forces and a Shi’a cleric. (Boroumand Foundation interview). 

The Court paid no attention to his and the other defendants’ objections to having been tortured in order to make forced confessions. (Amnesty International Report). According to a person familiar with the case, the judge insulted Mr. Rahimi’s and the other defendants’ religious beliefs when they were presenting their defense. (Boroumand Foundation interview). According to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, he and the rest of the defendants were taken to court once for trial and once for service of the decision, and they were beaten and insulted on both occasions. (Boroumand Foundation interview). 

The trial took place outside the jurisdiction of the defendant’s residence and detention, contrary to usual judicial custom.

Charges

According to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, and to the attorney for some of the individuals that were tried with him, the charge brought against Mr. Rahimi was “Moharebeh (“waging war with God”). He was also accused of “participation in religious and faith-based classes of the adherents of the Sunni faith, participation in the distribution of the declaration in defense of the adherents of the Sunni faith in Sanandaj, participation in assassination as the assassin’s driver, hiding his brother*** and providing him with financial assistance.” (Boroumand Foundation interview).

According to Kurdistan Province Judiciary’s announcement, the collective charges of these individuals were “establishing a Takfiri terrorist grouplet (Towhid and Jahad) for the purpose of Moharebeh and carrying out armed operations inside the country, terror and killing of innocent people and certain religious scholars including the martyrs Mamusta Sheikh-ol-Eslam and Mamusta Borhan Aali, killing a number of environmental protection enforcement agents in the city of Sanandaj, kidnapping and murder of several citizens including Khalifeh Farhadi from Qaraveh and Hedayat Hassankhani from Ilam, procurement of numerous weapons of war and manufacture of more than 50 bombs ready for explosion, bombing various targets in Sanandaj, several counts of armed robbery of jewelry stores in the towns of Qaraveh, Zanjan, and Hamedan, distributing poisoned food in order to assassinate certain Kurdistani citizens, attacking police and road police posts, attempted armed robbery of banks in the Province, and random shooting of firearms into the crowd at Sanandaj’s Azadi Square and killing and injuring 14 individuals.”*** (Fars News Agency). This announcement does not specify, however, who is charged with what crime. Furthermore, in describing these individuals’ charges, the Information Ministry’s announcement alludes to “limiting who is a Moslem and branding others as infidels based on personal interpretation of religion, low level of religious education of the principles members of the group, and religious interpretations based on their low level of understanding, being influenced by Wahabi and Takfiri thought, denying the basic tenets of the Shafei religion, calling well-known Sunni scholars infidels, adventurism, extremism in their belief, blind one-sidedness, and not accepting or standing the opinion of others, violent behavior.” (Information Ministry website, August 3, 2016).

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations allude to reports according to which, in certain cases, the Islamic republic of Iran’s officials bring false charges against their opponents (including political, civil, and union activists, as well as ethnic and religious minorities) such as drug trafficking or commission of public or sexual crimes, and execute them along with other regular criminals. Hundreds of people are sentenced to death in Iran every year; however, the number of those who are sentenced to death based on these false charges is not known.

Evidence of guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against the defendant. According to Kurdistan Province Judiciary’s announcement, however, the confessions of some of the defendants in the case, during interrogations and on camera, were used against them as evidence. The announcement stated: “In interviews with Press TV and Kurdistan Province Network subsequent to their arrest, a number of the defendants declared themselves to be ‘followers of the Salafi, Jihadi, and Takfiri thought’ and ‘have expressly described the details of their crimes.” (Khorassan Newspaper).

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress. In the case of political detainees, these confessions are, at times, televised. The National Television broadcasts confessions during which prisoners plead guilty to vague and false charges, repent and renounce their political beliefs, and/or implicate others. Human rights organizations have also pointed to the pattern of retracted confessions by those prisoners who are freed.

Defense

Mr. Rahimi was not given the opportunity for a defense at trial. He was assigned a court-appointed lawyer in spite of having retained two attorneys of his own. The attorneys Mr. Rahimi himself had retained were never able to meet with him; they were not even allowed to enter the courtroom on the day of the trial, or even submit a brief in defense of their client. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

They said: “You have to say that you’ve done this. We want to help you, we want to release you; say what we tell you to say and we’ll take care of it.”

Mr. Rahimi was not given the opportunity to meet with or even speak with his court-appointed attorney before trial. Mr. Rahimi’s court-appointed lawyer was able to read the case file only a few minutes before trial, and he was not given an opportunity to defend his client. (Amnesty International Report).

According to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, he and his family, and their counsel, made several requests to the Judiciary branch to have a public trial, all of which went unanswered. At trial, Mr. Rahimi denied the charge of participation in assassination and declared that his confession had been obtained under torture. Furthermore, according to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, the victim’s family believed the government was responsible for the assassination. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

After they were transferred to the general ward and were no longer under the duress and pressures of interrogations, the defendants in this case including Mr. Rahimi, had an opportunity to publish a video file from inside prison and completely deny the charges brought against them, stating the confessions broadcast on TV were obtained under duress and torture. He denied the charge of participation in armed struggle and contact with armed groups. He said this concerning the way [the interrogators] extracted confessions: “The interrogator lined up a bunch of crimes I knew nothing about; he said things and I had no idea what he was talking about, but he insisted I had done those things. The interesting part of it is that I was at Be’sat Hospital, accompanying my brother-in-law who had broken his arm, at exactly the same time he said I had done those things. According to Mr. Rahimi, he had been tricked into making a confession. He said: “They said ‘you have to take this crime on and say that you’ve done it.’ Whatever they did, they succeeded in deceiving me; they made false promises saying they wanted to help me, that they had arrested me but they wanted to release me, ‘just say what we ask you, put our minds at ease, and we’ll take care of everything.’ I had no other choice because I was under torture and beatings and I couldn’t take it anymore, and so, I was forced to say the things they wanted me to say. They put me in front of cameras after a while and told me some things they wanted me to say, and after that ‘it’s over and we will release you.’ They have made a CD of precisely the things I said on camera and that has become [evidence of] my crime and they have sentenced me to death based on that CD.” (YouTube, August 22, 2016).

Based on available information, Mr. Rahimi considered all charges as lies and stated that the reason he was arrested and tried was simply because he defended the religious beliefs of the adherents of the Sunni faith. His court-appointed attorney objected to the court’s decision and denied the charge of Moharebeh. (HRANA, July 4, 2013).

According to a person with knowledge, and following the same school of thought as Mr. Rahimi, no such group as “Towhid and Jihad”, membership in which was one of the charges against him and his co-defendants, exists, and this was a name fabricated by the security apparatus subsequent to their arrest. Mr. Rahimi and a number of Sunni activists were arrested in 2009 and some were executed before Mr. Rahimi; but the name “Towhid and Jihad” was brought up only a few years after these people’s arrest, and after the first group had been executed. (Boroumand Foundation research).

Based on files that were prepared in prison by cell phones, the defendants of this case had declared that the confessions had been made under severe torture. The file that was published after Mr. Rahimi’s execution and the other defendants by a government website, contained video clips of ISIS forces in Syria and Iraq, which had been combined with the forced confessions of some of the defendants. (Amnesty International Report). It is not clear why certain evidence such as “numerous weapons of war and more than 50 bombs ready for explosion,” which the Kurdistan Province Judiciary claims to have discovered, was not shown in the video file published by that government website.

According to the defense attorneys for some of the defendants, there are serious issues with the dispensation of these cases, and, given the change in the Islamic Penal Code, the conditions for Moharebeh were not met for most of the defendants, and the cases were not adjudicated in accordance with the new Islamic Penal Code. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Mr. Osman Mozayyan, attorney for some of the defendants in the case said: “There are people in this case who have committed one or two counts of murder of citizens. Now, whether this can be considered Moharebeh is doubtful, but all the individuals are looked upon the same way, regardless of whether they were involved in those operations or not; and this is a problem that really exists… Many of these defendants did not use arms at all. We expected their request for a new trial be considered, given the change in the new law and the change in the definition of Moharebeh. However, since the revolutionary court does not provide lawyers with a copy of the court decision, lawyers are legally not able to [ask for] a new trial without the copy of the decision. They must either have a copy, or handwrite the entire decision. The decisions are long because each decision concerns 20 to 25 people and there is one page for each person. Another issue is that we told the defendants to request a new trial, but the officials have not considered their request in spite of the positive promise they gave us. Even in one case where I wanted to read the case file, the presiding judge of the court branch would not allow it, saying he was finished with the case, whereas the case was at the appeals stage and legally, I had the right to read his file.”

According to Mr. Mozayyan “all of these individuals had submitted a request for a pardon but neither their request for pardon, nor their request for a new trial was not considered and taken under advisement. Even when they were serving the court decision on the defendants, they were not given a copy; they were just told to sign under the letter. And when the court-appointed attorneys and the retained attorneys wanted to meet with their clients and obtain their signature, the court would not allow it and would not issue an order to allow us to meet with our clients. And when we wanted to obtain their signature at Rajaishahr Prison, they would tell us at the entrance that since these defendants were al-Qaeda, “you are not allowed to meet with them. Leave your retainer agreement or power of attorney here and come back tomorrow to get the signature.” The lawyers’ defense of these defendants was mostly done without meeting them and without speaking to them. And if they were able to talk to them at all, it was in the hallway of courtroom, in the short time they had been brought for trial. As for their trial, they would bring multiple people together and each was tried for tried for a few minutes. They would only ask them a few questions. In the cases that I defended, the court insisted that all the investigations and all the charges were correct, and they did not pay much attention to the briefs. And when the ruling was issued, the court would simply repeat its own justifications and the contents of the indictment, without any reference to the attorneys’ defense, not even dismiss the defense with its own arguments and/or evidence. I saw some of the briefs presented by both court-appointed attorneys (because all of them were introduced to the court by the bar association) and attorneys chosen by the defendants, and they had all presented very good and comprehensive defenses; they had even spent months to write those briefs and had done a very good job. Unfortunately, however, I believe, my professional belief is, that the court did not pay attention to the defenses mounted by the attorneys, and not all these people deserved the death penalty given their cases.” (Iran Human Rights Organization, August 4, 2016).

According to Mr. Osman Mozayyan “trial session or sessions took place without the prosecutor’s representative, contrary to the Islamic Penal Code, and lasted three, four, or five minutes, and the court did not pay the slightest attention to the defendants’ and their attorneys’ defense.” Mr. Mozayyan said: “I defended numerous times. Numerous times I said: ‘Mr. Moghisseh, I’m defending, please listen.’ He would just keep his head down and be on his phone and then he would say: ‘Hurry up; what is it you want to say?’ And then the rulings were issued in a few pages, almost identical. That is, the text of the decision would be generally exactly the same, and there were no references to any details. In a way, an identical decision was issued for everybody, whereas they did not all have the same conditions and had not all done the same things.” According to Mr. Mozayyan, the rulings for all of these individuals were issued at the time of the old Islamic Penal Code. In the new law, “Moharebeh is taking up arms in order to spread fear in the Islamic society” and there is no Moharebeh as long as there is no weapon; and if the cases are taken up again, many of these people would not be considered Mohareb.” He emphasized: “Most of these individuals are very young and have no experience with the law, don’t know how to defend themselves, and speaking Farsi in court was very difficult for some of them. In spite of all that, the court did not allow them to meet with their attorneys. None of them were able to meet with their attorneys, and if there was a conversation between attorney and client, it was either done on the phone or in the few minutes they were in court. Regarding court-appointed attorneys, Mr. Mozayyan said: “many of them presented very good defenses but unfortunately, the court did not pay attention to the defenses and punished all these people in one manner and in the same way; the death sentence was upheld at the Supreme Court as well.” According to Mr. Mozayyan, Mr. Nassiripur, the Sentence Implementation judge had thrown him out of his room numerous times, saying “Why are you defending the Daesh”, whereas he was defending the defendant not the charge.

Additionally, Mohammad Seifzadeh, jurist and member of the Human Rights Defenders Center, who had spent several years in Rajaishahr prison with these prisoners, said: “on enight the officer in charge said: ‘this morning the guys from Hall 10 were taken to court, more than 30 of them, and they returned them all, they issued death sentences at that session, please go talk to them.’ I went to Hall10, all the Sunni guys gathered around and we talked to each other warmly. We talked about Islam, the Koran, the Prophet Mohammad, human rights, etc. One or two of the guys said: ‘We’re not afraid of execution but what we saw today had nothing to do with a court of law, not even in the Middle Ages. We had no right to defend ourselves; they had already written down our names and our sentences. They took 37 people in, told them they were sentenced to death, and got their signature, all in about 15 minutes.’” Siamak Qaderi, a journalist who was in the same ward with the defendants, said that Messrs. Soltani and Sefzadeh, jailed attorneys, gave them legal advice and added: “These attorneys were their advisers in [aiding them to] recount the details of their arrest, investigation, and trial, and at times, would prepare [written] defenses or requests for them. I can say with the utmost certainty that, in spite of the very serious difference of opinion they had with these people, the attorneys considered the process of their adjudication completely against the Law on the Rules of Procedure, contrary to common sense, humanity, and against human rights tenets.” Sa’eed Madani, a political prisoner who was incarcerated with the defendants, alluded to the made up case against these individuals and said: “From the first days I was released from prison, I asked every human being with integrity who had a hand in the judicial and the executive system for help, to get them to reconsider their case with impartiality, disregarding the hoopla, so they could notice the multitude of contradictions and false reports in the file, and thereby prevent the continuation of this major and unforgivable injustice. It seems, however, that not even the slightest bit of conscience, humanity, honor, and piety remains in order to hear the cries of the oppressed.” (Euronews, August 8, 2016).

Judgment

Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Court Branch 28 sentenced Mr. Mokhtar Rahimi to death. Supreme Court Branch 32 upheld the sentence. (HRANA, July 4, 2013).

Based on available information, beginning at 7:30 PM on Monday, August 1, 2016, in order to prevent any news of the implementation of the death sentence against Mr. Rahimi and 24 other defendants from being disseminated, Rajaishahr Prison officials activated the machine that sends interference on cell phones, cut off the Prison’s main phone lines, and limited visitations and prisoners comings and goings to the yard and to the infirmary. (HRANA, August 3, 2016).

According to a person close to Mr. Rahimi, the night before the execution, the Prison’s special guards took Mr. Rahimi and the rest of the defendants from Ward 4 to solitary confinement cells, handcuffed, shackled, and with [tape over] their mouths, so that other prisoners would not be able to hear them and find out was going on. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Mr. Rahimi and 24 other defendants, including his brother***** were hanged at [the city of] Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison in the morning of Tuesday, August 2, 2016, without due process regarding sentence implementation. (Boroumand Foundation interview). Following Mr. Rahimi’s and the other defendants’ execution, Rajaishahr Prison Ward 7, Hall 21 prisoners who were mostly Sunni Moslems, went on a strike to protest their execution and to empathize with their families. (HRANA, August 3, 2016).

Based on available documentation, Mr. Rahimi’s cause of death in the death certificate was stated as “respiratory illness”. Given reliable information regarding Mr. Rahimi’s execution, it is not clear why the cause of death has been declared as “respiratory illness.” (Documents existing in the Boroumand Foundation research).

After Mr. Rahimi’s execution was carried out, security forces called Mr. Rahimi’s family to come and see him for the last time, but on their way to Rajaishahr Prison, they were contacted again and told to go to Kahrizak morgue to identify the body. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Mr. Rahimi’s family identified his body in the presence of Sanandaj Information agents. The body was not turned over to them for burial but the authorities buried Mr. Rahimi in Section 308, Row 114, Number 68 of Tehran’s Behesht Zahra Cemetery, in the presence of his family. The family was not allowed to conduct the burial according to Sunni religious rites. According to a person with knowledge of the case, after Mr. Rahimi’s execution, Information Ministry agents stopped his family’s car on the way back from the cemetery and obtained a pledge from them not to hold any funeral services. In spite of the Information Ministry agents’ threats, his family did hold services for him and a large number of people attended. (Boroumand Foundation interview).

Even though Mr. Rahimi was executed, the death certificate states the cause of death as “respiratory illness”.

According to the attorney for several of the defendants, “pursuant to the law, at the time of carrying out a death sentence, a number of officials as well as the condemned’s attorney must be present; none of their attorneys were asked to attend the execution, however. Most importantly, a person must be buries either according to his/her will, or to the wishes of his family. Naturally, the remaining family members want their dead to be buried in their city of residence and this is their personal right. This is contrary to religious tenets and principles as well as the wishes of the condemned and the will of the survivors.” (Iran Human Rights Organization, August 4, 2016).

____________________________________________________

*Other sources: Roj Halat (July 20, 2011), Boroumand Foundation (August 11, 2016), Fars News Agency (August 2, 2016), Amnesty International (November 27, 2016), Aljazeera (August 4, 2016), HRANA (November 12, 2013, December 14, 2013, January 3, 2014, January 29, 2014, February 1, 2014, February 21, 2014, March 4, 2014, March 17, 2014, August 3, 2016), Boroumand Foundation interview with Osman Mozayyan (August 22, 2016), Boroumand Foundation interview with Hossein Ahmadi Niazi (September 2, 2016), and Boroumand Foundation research.

** The Shafei religion is the name of a branch of Sunni Islam that follows Abu Abdollah Mohammad Idris Shafei, one of the four Imams of Sunna and Jama’a. The Shafei religion is the third oldest religion of the adherents of Sunni Islam, that follows Mohammad, Abu Bakr, Osman, and Ali.

*** By broadcasting reports and special programs on November 15, 2013, and March 14, 2014, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (State radio and TV) hurled several accusations at the defendants in this case, including “the assassination of Mamusta Sheikh-ol-Eslam, member of the Assembly of Experts”, “keeping and storing weapons”, and “contact with PEJAK group”. Furthermore, on August 3, 2016, Kurdistan Province Network broadcast a four-part documentary entitled “Takfir and Terror” in which, in addition to accusing them of assassinating religious and judicial figures, including Mamusta Sheikh-ol-Eslam, Mamusta Borhan Aali, and Judge Kamiani, it accused them of various crimes such as “robbing jewelry stores”, “assassinating four environmental protection agents”, “attacking and opening fire on passersby and traffic police in Sanandaj’s Azadi Square”.

****Mr. Farhad Rahimi was arrested by the Sanandaj Information Administration in July-August 2006 for selling unauthorized religious books and CD’s of the adherents of the Sunni faith, and was released after three days. The court gave him an eight-month suspended sentence. On April 30, 2009, he fled and went into hiding in Sanandaj, following the arrest of several of Sanandaj’s religious activists of the Sunni faith. Ultimately, however, on September 27, 2009, Sanandaj Information Administration forces attacked his hiding place in Sanandaj’s Sharifabad neighborhood and shot him dead.

*****Mr. Mokhtar Rahimi’s brother, Mr. Bahman Rahimi, was arrested at the same time he was and was also executed on August 2, 2016, with 24 other defendants at [the city of] Karaj’s Rajaishahr Prison, for “Moharebeh,” “propaganda against the regime participation in religious belief and political classes,” and “performing religious rites that were prohibited by the government.”

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