Mona Mahmudnizhad

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Mona Mahmudnizhad
Mona Mahmudnizhad.jpg
Born(1965-09-10)September 10, 1965
DiedJune 18, 1983(1983-06-18) (aged 17)
Known forExecution for membership in the Bahá'í Faith

Mona Mahmudnizhad (Persian: مونا محمودنژاد‎, September 10, 1965 – June 18, 1983) was an Iranian Bahá'í who, in 1983 (together with nine other Bahá'í women) was sentenced to death and hanged in Shiraz, Iran. She was accused of being a member of the Bahá'í Faith.[1][2][3]

The official charges ranged from "misleading children and youth", to being a "Zionist" (because the Bahá'í World Centre is located in Israel).[4]


Mahmudnizhad was born on September 10, 1965, to Yad'u'llah and Farkhundeh Mahmudnizhad (who had left their home in Iran to teach their religion in Yemen).[5]

In 1969 the government of Yemen expelled all foreigners and the Mahmudnizhad family returned to Iran. They spent two years in Isfahan, six months in Kermanshah and three years in Tabriz before finally settling in Shiraz in 1974. During this time her father repaired small appliances for work and served the Bahá'í community as part of various Bahá'í administrative bodies.[5]

Arrest, sentencing and death[edit]

While Bahá'ís regularly faced persecution in Iran, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 reinforced this further.[1][6] At 7:30pm on October 23, 1982, four armed Revolutionary Guards, sent by the public prosecutor of Shiraz, entered the Mahmudnizhad household and ransacked the home in search of Bahá'í material. They then took Mona and her father into custody. The two were blindfolded and taken to Seppah prison in Shiraz, where they were placed in separate quarters; Mahmudnizhad was detained in Seppah prison for a total of 38 days.[5]

On November 29, 1982, she and five other Bahá'í women were transferred from Seppah prison to Adelabad prison (also in Shiraz). After some time in Abelabad, she was transferred to the Islamic Revolutionary Court where she was interrogated and placed back in prison.

A few days later, she was once again interrogated in front of an Islamic Revolutionary judge.[5] After these series of interrogations, which involved physical torture by being whipped on the soles of her feet with a cable, Mahmudnizhad was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.[3] At the time of her sentencing, President of the United States Ronald Reagan, made a plea for clemency; despite this, the sentence of the 10 women was carried out on the night of June 18, 1983, at a nearby polo field.[2]

The other women who were hanged with Mahmudnizhad were:[5]

  • Nusrat Yalda'i, 54 years old
  • 'Izzat Janami Ishraqi, 50 years old
  • Roya Ishraqi, 23 and daughter of 'Izzat
  • Tahirih Siyavushi, 32 years old
  • Zarrin Muqimi, 28 years old
  • Shirin Dalvand, 25 years old
  • Akhtar Sabit, 19 or early 20s
  • Simin Saberi, early 20s
  • Mahshid Nirumand, 28 years old

In September 2007, the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center published a case study on the subject.[7]


Mahmudnizhad's story is the subject of several art works. Music artist Doug Cameron recreated Mahmudnizhad's story in a music video, Mona with the Children, which made the pop charts in Canada (#14 for the week of October 19, 1985).[8] The video was distributed throughout the music scene and was effective in bringing the persecution of Bahá'ís in Iran to international public attention.[1]

A play based on Mahmudnizhad's story titled A Dress for Mona has been produced[3] and in 2008 Jack Lenz produced a film called Mona's Dream.[9] Her pictures are also featured in Mithaq Kazimi's Quenching The Light video.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Affolter, Friedrich W. (2005). "The Specter of Ideological Genocide: The Bahá'ís of Iran" (PDF). War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. 1 (1): 59–89. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-11-27.
  2. ^ a b Reuters (1983-06-20). "Iran reportedly executes 16 Baha'is in secret". New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c Mullins, Sandy (2007). "Mona Mahmudnizhad". Bella Online. Retrieved 2007-09-25.
  4. ^ NOEL GRIMA (03 August 2008) ‘Mona’s Dream’ may be directed by Mario Philip Azzopardi, perhaps not in Malta Archived 2012-03-01 at the Wayback Machine, The Malta Independent
  5. ^ a b c d e The Story of Mona: 1965–1983. Thornhill, Canada: Bahá'í Canada Publications. 1985.
  6. ^ International Federation for Human Rights (2003-08-01). "Discrimination against religious minorities in Iran" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-10-20.
  7. ^ IHRDC: Community Under Siege: The Ordeal of the Bahá’ís of Shiraz
  8. ^ ""Pop Annual 1955–1999: Sixth Edition" for October, 1985". Retrieved 2007-09-25.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Mona's dream". 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-25.

External links[edit]