By Kian Sabeti
Translation by Iran Press Watch
On Saturday, June 18, 1983, an hour after the weekly women’s visitation at the Adel Abad Prison in Shiraz, Mona Mahmudinejad and nine other Baha’i women were transferred from prison cells to the Abdullah Mesgar Base (Chougan Square), and were hanged in front of each other.
Prior to execution, each of these women was asked to turn away from the Baha’i Faith and become Muslim to save her life and escape the noose, but none of them agreed. All of them were whispering prayers as they were hung. The bodies of these women were buried without the knowledge of their families or religious ceremonies in the Shiraz Baha’i cemetery, Golestan Javid.
Those executed were:
Ezzat Janami (Eshraghi), 57, along with her daughter Roya, two days after the execution of her husband, Enayatullah Eshraghi
Nusrat Ghofrani (Yaldaei), 56 (her son, Bahram Yaldaie, was executed two days earlier),
Tahereh Arjomandi (Siyavashi); 32, her husband, Jamshid Siavashi, was executed two days prior)
Zarrin Moghimi Abyaneh, 29 years old
Mahshid Niroumand, 28 years old
Simin Saberi, 24 years old
Akhtar Sabet, 21 years old
Shirin (Shahin) Dalvand, 25 years old
Roya Eshraghi, 23, was executed with her mother.
Mona Mahmoudinejad, 17; her father, Yadollah Mahmoudinejad, was executed three months prior.
Mona and her father were arrested at their residence on October 23, 1982, by order of the Revolutionary Prosecutor, and sent to an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Prison.
On that day, 45 other Baha’i citizens were also detained in Shiraz. At the time of her arrest, Mona was a 16-year-old adolescent with the same youthful passion and joy, and full of hope to achieve grand aspirations in the future.
At first, it was thought that Mona would be released soon, because the only crime she had committed according to Shiraz Revolutionary Court officials was teaching the principles and rules of the Baha’i faith to several children of the same Faith. However, after a short time, it became apparent that she and the other detainees’ charges were ideological, and that their crime was to follow the Baha’i Faith. They were told that if any of the Baha’is were to turn away and become Muslim, they would immediately be vindicated and be released.
In the 782 issue of Khabar-e Jonoub newspaper, on February 22, 1983, an interview was published with Hojatoleslam Ghaza’i, the Shari’a judge and the head of the Shiraz Revolutionary Court, whose response clearly shows that the arrest and execution of Baha’is in Shiraz was solely due to their religious beliefs.
He said: “In response to this question, I must say that, in the hope of the great God, the Muslim nation of Iran … cannot tolerate the deviant Baha’is and toys of Satan, demons, or citizens of the superpowers and their agents. It is clear that in the Islamic Republic of Iran there is not the least place for Baha’ism and Baha’is. They say that we did not participate in any of the marches against the tyrant (Shah), that we did not participate in any of the Islamic Republic’s polls and the Assembly of Experts and… because these actions are part of politics and we are religiously precluded from interference in politics. I remind them … that until it is not too late, to recant from Baha’ism, which is rationally and logically condemned, otherwise it will not be long before the day when the Iranian nation will act on its religious duty with respect to the Baha’is…. The Baha’is know that they are not stronger than the Separatists, and the people of Hezbollah will not be incapable of eradicating them.”
Mona first was imprisoned in the Central Guards Corps without being allowed to contact her family until her mother eventually met with her on November 20th. After a few weeks, Mona was transferred from the Revolutionary Guards to Adel Abad prison in Shiraz. In this prison, Baha’is suffered the most severe torture to deny their Faith.
“Habibullah Hakimi,” one of the Baha’i prisoners, wrote in his memoirs: “They lay the prisoner on the bed, they cuffed their wrists and feet to the bed, cuffed the two toes, and they flog the bottom of the feet. .. The thugs, who were all called Abdullah, had to finish their job quickly, and with the same bedraggled whip they went to another, causing severe injuries and many complications .”
He went on to say that interrogations were initiated by intimidation and coercion to force the accused to say they had relations with Israel: “If one of the defendants were to present proof and reason, and state the truth, they would be sent to the punishment room, and they were brutally abused with a cable or a whip.”
Since Baha’is were considered unclean, they were held in cells separate from other prisoners. Hakimi explains, “When the Guards blindfolded the Baha’i prisoners and wanted to take them to interrogate, the Guards handed a rolled newspaper to the detainee, and they would hold the other end of the paper so that they would not become impure because they had touched the detainee. Baha’i prisoners even had special food plates.”
According to Soheila Vahdati, “In the ward, one at Adel Abad prison in Shiraz, in each women’s cell, there were three people together who had the right to go to each other’s cells. However, hygiene was tough and they did not have regular access to the shower.”
There is no information available on the trial of Mona Mahmoudinejad. In the book ” Story of Olia,” quoting one of Mona’s cellmates, the release of this 16-year-old girl was issued twice at a bail of 500 thousand Tomans[i], but when her mother went to the Prosecutor’s Office to pay the amount, she was also arrested on charges of “membership in a Baha’i organization” and imprisoned for five months.
A report from the Baha’i International Community (BIC) states that during lengthy and abusive interrogations, Mona and nine other Baha’i women were given a chance four times to denounce the Baha’i Faith and seek refuge in Islam. At the fourth time, when none had signed the prepared papers to deny Baha’ism, the death sentence for all of them was issued by the Shiraz Shariah judge for “spying for Israel.”
The ten women were hanged on Chougan Square on Saturday, June 18, 1983. According to an informed source, Mona Mahmoudinejad was the last person to be executed, because of her young age, so that she might deny her beliefs by observing the hanging of the nine other women. When her turn had come, she was given her last chance to turn away from her Faith. When she refused to do so, she was hanged as well.
[i] About $50,000 at the time