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)
Cause of deathExecution by hanging
Known forExecution for membership in the Baháʼí Faith

Mona Mahmudnizhad (Persian: مونا محمود نژاد, September 10, 1965 – June 18, 1983) was an Iranian Baháʼí who, in 1983, together with nine other Baháʼí women, was sentenced to death and hanged in Shiraz, Iran on the grounds of being a member of the Baháʼí Faith.[1][2][3] The official charges ranged from "misleading children and youth" to being a "Zionist", as the Baháʼí World Centre is located in Israel.[4]

The nonprofit Mona Foundation focusing on girls' education was named after her in 2001.


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 worked repairing small appliances and served the Baháʼí community in various Baháʼí administrative bodies.[5]

Arrest, sentencing and death[edit]

While Baháʼís regularly faced persecution in Iran, it increased following the Islamic Revolution of 1979.[1][6] At 7:30pm on October 23, 1982, four armed Revolutionary Guards, on the orders of the public prosecutor of Shiraz, entered the Mahmudnizhad household and ransacked it in search of Baháʼí material. They then took Mona and her father into custody. They were blindfolded and taken to Seppah prison in Shiraz, where they were placed in separate quarters; Mahmudnizhad was detained there for 38 days.[5] On November 29, 1982, she and five other Baháʼí women were transferred from Seppah prison to Adelabad prison, also in Shiraz.

After some time, she was taken to the Islamic Revolutionary Court where she was interrogated and then returned to prison. A few days later, she was again interrogated in front of an Islamic Revolutionary judge.[5] After these 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]

President of the United States Ronald Reagan, called 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, 24 years old
  • 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 Baháʼís 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 planned to produce 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 Baháʼís of Iran" (PDF). War Crimes, Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. 1 (1): 59–89. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2007.
  2. ^ a b "Iran reportedly executes 16 Baha'is in secret". New York Times. Reuters. June 20, 1983.
  3. ^ a b c Mullins, Sandy (2007). "Mona Mahmudnizhad". Bella Online. Retrieved September 25, 2007.
  4. ^ NOEL GRIMA (August 3, 2008) 'Mona's Dream' may be directed by Mario Philip Azzopardi, perhaps not in Malta Archived March 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, The Malta Independent
  5. ^ a b c d e The Story of Mona: 1965–1983. Thornhill, Canada: Baháʼí Canada Publications. 1985.
  6. ^ International Federation for Human Rights (August 1, 2003). "Discrimination against religious minorities in Iran" (PDF). Retrieved October 20, 2006.
  7. ^ IHRDC: Community Under Siege: The Ordeal of the Baháʼís of Shiraz
  8. ^ ""Pop Annual 1955–1999: Sixth Edition" for October, 1985". Archived from the original on November 12, 2002. Retrieved September 25, 2007.
  9. ^ "Mona's dream". 2007. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved September 25, 2007. (archived)

External links[edit]