December 16, 2022 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1672

Compassionate Doctor Sentenced To Death In Iran

December 16, 2022 | By Anna Mahjar-Barducci and R. Sosnow*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1672


The following is the first in series of articles recounting the stories of the people on death row in Iran since the beginning of the uprising against the Islamic Republic. According to media reports, two have been executed so far in connection with the protests: Mohsen Shakeri,[1] 23, hanged December 8, and Majid Reza Rahnavard,[2] also 23, hanged December 12.[3] Both were charged with the crime of moharebeh – "war against God."

It is worth noting that a December 9, 2022 op-ed titled "The Terrorists' Commotion About Lawful Punishment" in the online daily Javan, which is affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), stated that Shekari was not the first person to be executed in connection with the protests, and that dozens more would face the same fate. It said: "Shekari is not the first to be sentenced to hang during the recent rioting, nor will he be the last... Furthermore, in the recent events, over 60 security forces members were murdered, and for each murder one or more murderers were responsible... The law obligates the judiciary to sentence each of these perpetrators of murder to death."[4]

Below is the story of Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou and his wife Farzaneh Ghare-Hassanlou, who were arrested at their home in early November.

The Arrest Of Dr. Hamid And Farzaneh Ghare-Hassanlou

Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou and his wife Farzaneh Ghare-Hassanlou were arrested at their home in the Alborz province capital, Karaj, which is effectively a satellite city of Tehran, on November 4 at 2 a.m. in front of their 10-year-old daughter. The couple has two children, but their son is at university.

The Ghare-Hassanlou family (Source: Twitter)

According to reports, on November 3, the couple was on the way home from an event marking the 40th day of mourning for Hadith Najafi, the young woman killed at a peaceful protest in Karaj who has become a symbol of the anti-regime unrest in the country.[5] According to the Iran Human Rights Society, on their way home they became stuck in traffic, and their detour brought them near the Karaj-Qazvin road in the Behesht Sakineh area of Karaj, where, according to the regime, an anti-regime demonstration had turned on Basij and other regime security forces, stabbing Basij member Ruhollah Ajamian to death[6] and attacking others.

Dr. Hamid and Farzaneh Ghare-Hassanlou (Source: Iran Human Rights Society)

Death Sentence For Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou

In early December, the Chief Justice of Alborz Province (Karaj Revolutionary Court) charged Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou with Ifsad fi Al-Arth – "corruption on earth" – a capital crime in Iran, and sentenced him to death by hanging for alleged involvement in the killing of Basij member Ajamian.

Fifteen people were tried for Ajamian's death, though the Shargh daily reported 16. Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou was sentenced to death along with four others. His wife and three minors – Mehdi Shokrollahi, Arian Farzamnia, and Amir-Mehdi Jafari – received lengthy prison terms.[7]

Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou's brother Hassan stated that the doctor had examined Ajamian as he lay on the ground, told people nearby that he was still alive, and urged that he be taken to the hospital.[8]


According to reports, Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou was tortured while in custody; his ribs were fractured by relentless beatings[9] that exacerbated his chronic heart and lung conditions,[10] and his lung was punctured. He was sent to hospital two days after his arrest. Some social media reports said that he was informed of his death sentence following his third surgery.[11]

His wife, Farzaneh Ghareh-Hassanlou, was sentenced to 25 years and banned from social contact in Ahvaz prison.

Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou shows signs of torture (Source: Twitter)

Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou in hospital (Source:

A Forced Confession

No relatives of the Ghare-Hassanlous were permitted to attend the trial.[12] In the first two weeks of his detention, Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou was not allowed to make phone calls, although prior to her trial his wife was permitted to speak with her family for six minutes daily after the sixth day of her detention.[13]

A friend of the couple stated: "The only evidence for the sentence is a false confession forced under torture from his wife Farzaneh – a routine practice of the security forces in Iran. On the first day she would have remained firm, Hamid's brother recounted, but on the second day the judicial officers told her that they knew her son was in the Tabriz University dormitory, and if she did not confess by tonight that Hamid had beaten the victim [Basij member Ajamian], they would arrest her son and he would have to suffer the same torture that she herself suffers, including threats to kill her son. The cases were heard in three hearings over six days before the sentences were handed down."[14]

According to a call for their release published by, "the City prosecutor's office has refused to allow the accused individuals to retain their own lawyers, using 'national security' as a pretense." The call added that Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou had been discriminated against by prosecutors for his "affiliations with Sufism."

During the second session of the court hearing, on December 1 (the Persian date is Azar 10), Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou pleaded innocent. He said that he accepted the accusation that he had been "negligent" medically regarding Ajamian, but stated that he had not carried out "the criminal act that resulted in the death of Shahid [martyr] Ajamian." As the judge asked the defendant to state his final defense, he said: "I do not accept the charges."[15]

Iranian media reported the news of his death sentence on December 12 (Azar 21). It is worth noting that, according to the records available online of the second session of the hearing, a court-appointed lawyer was present. Furthermore, in photos from this second session, Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou appears to be wearing a coat over hospital garb.

Farzaneh Ghare-Hassanlou during the second session of the trial (Source:

Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou during the second session (Source:

Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou during the second hearing (Source:

Dr. Hamid Ghare-Hassanlou during the second hearing (Source:

(Source: Twitter)

(Source: Twitter)

Doctors Hold Protest Rally In Support Of The Couple

Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou was described as a philanthropist and a "compassionate" physician, with more than 26 years of experience as a radiologist. He participated in charitable activities, helping to build schools in poor and underserved communities of Iran. His wife was equally active in humanitarian activity.[16]

In social media, it was reported that Iranian doctors staged a protest rally in support of the couple, in front of the Ministry of Health and in front of Evin prison in Tehran.[17]

Doctors demonstrating in front of Evin prison (Source: Iran International)

Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou's mother also released a video in which she asked that her son's death sentence be overturned.

Dr. Ghare-Hassanlou' mother (Source:

* Anna Mahjar-Barducci is a MEMRI Senior Research Fellow; R. Sosnow is Lead Editor at MEMRI.


[3] Iranian activist Masih Alinejad posted a video showing the public hanging of Majid Reza Rahnavard. Alinejad writes that Basij members are chanting "Allahu Akbar," and that the person who sent the video said that members of the public had refused to attend the hanging., December 12, 2022.

[5];, November 3, 2022.

[6], December 12, 2022.

[7] Sharghdaily., December 12, 2022.

[8], December 8, 2022.

[9], December 9, 2022.


[11], December 9, 2022.

[12], December 12, 2022.

[13], December 12, 2022.

[14], December 12, 2022.

[15], December 2, 2022.


[17], December 14, 2022.

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