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Azizollah Rajabzadeh

Title: Head of Tehran Police (October 2008 - January 2010)

Sanctions: European Union (April 12, 2011)

In April 2011, the European Union sanctioned Azizollah Rajabzadeh for human rights violations.[1]

According to the Official Journal of the European Union, Rajabzadeh was the highest-ranking official accused in the case of prisoner abuses at the Kahrizak Detention Center in southern Tehran. [2] In late 2009, reports emerged that detainees arrested after the contested elections in June of that year were dying under suspicious circumstances. [3] According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, Rajabzadeh claimed that no one was abused or died at the Kahrizak Detention Center.  [4]

A later investigation by the Iranian Majlis, however, determined that three young men had died as a result of maltreatment while in custody there. [5] According to the Tehran Military Prosecutor’s indictment, Rajabzadeh is guilty of “Authorizing false reporting,” as well as, “Negligence and violation of government regulations in carrying out duties, resulting in loss of lives and bodily harms.”  [6] The indictment further states: “Considering that Lieutenant-general Rajabzadeh held the position as the Commander in Chief of the Law Enforcement in Greater Tehran, and that the detention centre was operated under the supervision of the said force, Rajabzadeh failed to present any convincing argument in his defence [sic] and continued to shirk responsibility.”[7]

The Guardian reported that Rajabzadeh was named in a leaked police video in which his forces were caught beating students, burning beds, and firing tear gas during the raid that killed five students in dormitories at Tehran University on June 14, 2009. The video revealed that the police under Rajabzadeh’s command were so violent that even some members of the Basij attempted to restrain them. [8] According to Rajabzadeh, “police officers acted with profound insight and measured force.” [9] The Guardian reported that following the raid, police apparently took 87 students to a nearby police building and tortured them. [10]

According to the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, police under Rajabzadeh’s command were also caught on video running over protestors during the Ashura Day demonstrations in December 2009. [11] According to the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, Rajabzadeh himself was so close to the violence that he was injured on the scene.[12]


[1]Council of the European Union, “Council Regulation (EU) No 359/2011 of 12 April 2011 Concerning Restrictive Measures Directed Against Certain Persons, Entities, and Bodies in View of the Situation in Iran,” Official Journal of the European Union, April 12, 2011. p. 100/7.

[2]Council of the European Union, “Council Regulation (EU) No 359/2011 of 12 April 2011 Concerning Restrictive Measures Directed Against Certain Persons, Entities, and Bodies in View of the Situation in Iran,” Official Journal of the European Union, April 12, 2011. p. 100/7.

[3]“Kahrizak Prison Chief Dismissed, Arrested,” PressTV (Iran), August 10, 2009. (http://www.payvand.com/news/09/aug/1084.html)

[4]“A Year Later: Suppression Continues in Iran,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, June 12, 2010. (http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3162-a-year-later-suppression-continues-in-iran.html?p=28)

[5]“A Year Later: Suppression Continues in Iran,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, June 12, 2010. (http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3162-a-year-later-suppression-continues-in-iran.html?p=28)

[6]“Complete Text of the Indictment of Tehran Military Prosecutor Against 12 Persons Responsible for the Kahrizak Tragedy,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, December 16, 2009. (http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/indictments/3374-kahrizak-indictment.html)

[7]“Complete Text of the Indictment of Tehran Military Prosecutor Against 12 Persons Responsible for the Kahrizak Tragedy,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, December 16, 2009. (http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/human-rights-documents/indictments/3374-kahrizak-indictment.html)

[8]Saeed Kamali Dehghan, “The Truth About Iran’s Campus Attack,” The Guardian (U.K.), February 23, 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/23/iran-campus-attack-film)

[9]“A Year Later: Suppression Continues in Iran,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, March 2, 2011. (http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3162-a-year-later-suppression-continues-in-iran.html?p=28)

[10]Saeed Kamali Dehghan, “The Truth About Iran’s Campus Attack,” The Guardian (U.K.), February 23, 2010. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/feb/23/iran-campus-attack-film)

[11] “A Year Later: Suppression Continues in Iran,” Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, March 2, 2011. (http://www.iranhrdc.org/english/publications/reports/3162-a-year-later-suppression-continues-in-iran.html?p=28)

[12] Raha Tahami, “Iranian Police Meet Stiff Resistance in Ashura Protests,” Institute for War & Peace Reporting, January 12, 2010. (http://iwpr.net/report-news/iranian-police-meet-stiff-resistance-ashura-protests)