Update to IRN29286.E of 8 May 1998 on reported cases of apostasy and the penalties imposed (1997-1998) [IRN30910.E]

No reports of executions of persons convicted of apostasy in the period 1997-1998 could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, several sources reported that a man called Ruhollah Rowhani was executed on 21 July 1998 for allegedly trying to convert a Muslim woman to the Baha'i faith (The Providence Journal-Bulletin 10 Sept. 1998; Canada News Wire 22 July 1998; AI 24 July 1998). AP reported that the Iranian government denied the report of this execution (26 July 1998). Prior to this reported execution no Baha'i had been executed since 1992 (The Providence Journal-Bulletin 10 Sept. 1998; Canada News Wire 22 July 1998; New York Times 24 July 1998).

Human Rights Without Frontiers reported that as of July 1998 the following Baha'i persons were in prison under sentence of death: Musa Talibi and Dhabihu'llah Mahrami for apostasy; Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam, Hidayat Kashifi Najafadabi and Ata'u'llah Hamid Nasirizadih for "continuing 'Family Life' meetings;" and Bihnam Mithaqi and Kayvan Khalajabadi for "Zionist Baha'i activities" (15 Oct. 1998). However, Amnesty International reported that Musa Talibi and Dhabihu'llah Mahrami were originally charged with apostasy and then convicted of espionage (1998, 200), while the Baha'i International Community stated that "court records show clearly that it was for 'apostasy' that the two men were initially tried, convicted and sentenced to death," while noting subsequent claims by the Iranian government that the two men were convicted of spying for Israel (Jan.-Mar. 1997). The Director of Governmental Relations for the Baha'i Community of Canada stated in a 25 January 1999 telephone interview, that Musa Talibi and Dhabihu'llah Mahrami are the only persons they have on record as being in prison at this time under conviction of apostasy.

On July 23 1998 the U.S. Department of State reported that seven Baha'i were under sentence of death and that three of the planned executions were believed to be "imminent." In October 1998, Amnesty International and the Baha'i International Community reported that Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam and Hedayatollah Kashifi-Najafadabi could soon be executed after having had their death sentences confirmed (9 Oct. 1998; July-Sept. 1998). They had not been charged with apostasy but had been accused of being involved in the same case for which Ruhollah Rowhani was reported to have been executed (ibid.). The Director of Governmental Relations for the Baha'i Community of Canada stated that the death sentences of Sirus Dhabihi-Muqaddam and Hedayatollah Kashifi-Najafadabi have been appealed to the Supreme Court which has not yet released a decision (25 Jan. 1999).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). 9 October 1998. "Urgent Action: Iran: Fear of Imminent Execution." (AI Index: MDE 13/18/98) London: Amnesty International.

_____. 24 July 1998. "Public Statement: Iran: Amnesty International Condemns Execution of Baha'i." (AI Index: MDE 13/12/98) London: Amnesty International.

_____. 1998. Amnesty International Report 1998. New York: Amnesty International USA.

Associated Press (AP). 22 July 1998. "Iran Denies Executing Member of Baha'i Sect." (NEXIS)

Baha'i Community of Canada, Ottawa. 25 January 1999. Telephone interview with the Director of Governmental Relations.

Baha'i International Community, New York. "In Iran, One Baha'i Is Executed and Two More Are Sentenced to Death, Raising Sharp Doubts About the New Government's Human Rights Policies." One Country. Vol. 10, Iss. 2. [Internet] www.onecountry.org [Accessed 12 Jan. 1999]

_____. January-March 1994. "Sentenced to Death for 'Apostasy,' Two Baha'is in Iran Await Appeals." One Country. Vol. 8, Iss. 4. [Internet] www.onecountry.org [Accessed 12 Jan. 1999]

Canada News Wire. 22 July 1998. " Baha'i Executed in Iran; Killing Raises Fears of Intensification of Religious Persecution." (NEXIS)

Human Rights Without Frontiers [Brussels]. 15 October 1998. "Religious Intolerance and Discrimination."

Iranian Christians International, Colorado Springs, Colorado. 24 November 1998. "Iranian Government Steps Up Persecution of Religious Minorities." [Internet] www.domini.org [Accessed 25 Jan. 1998]

New York Times. 24 July 1998. "Iran Hangs Bahai in Religious Case." (NEXIS)

The Providence Journal-Bulletin. 10 September 1998. Letter nby istine Muller. "Iran's Evil Persecution of Baha'is." (NEXIS)

United States Department of State, Washington, DC. 23 July 1998. "Press Release on Execution of Baha'i in Iran." [Internet] bounty.bcca.org [Accessed 12 Jan. 1999]

Additional Sources Consulted

Keesing's Record of World Events [Cambridge]. 1998.

Resource Centre. Iran country file. May 1998-present.

_____. Iran: Amnesty International country file. May 1998-present.

Electronic sources: IRB Databases, LEXIS/NEXIS, Internet, REFWORLD, World News Connection (WNC).

Four non-documentary sources contacted could not provide information on the requested subject.