Nazanin Fatehi

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Nazanin Fatehi
Born1987 (age 31–32)
ResidenceKaraj, Iran
NationalityIranian (Kurdish)
Other namesMahabad
Criminal statusoverturned, released
Parent(s)mother Maryam [father's name unknown]
Motiveself-defense, victim of physical and sexual assault
Criminal chargemurder
Penaltydeath (qesas), by hanging
Commentsarrested and imprisoned March 2005; convicted and sentenced January 2006; conviction overturned, retrial and continuing detention ordered May 2006; retrial August 2006; cleared of intentional murder, ordered to pay diyeh, released on bail January 2007; detention approx. 24 mos.; assailant/victim name unknown; current whereabouts unknown.

Nazanin (Mahabad) Fatehi (Persian: نازنین فاتحی‎, born 1987) is an Iranian woman who was sentenced to death for stabbing a man who allegedly tried to rape her and her 15-year-old niece, events occurring when she herself was a 17-year-old. After more than 2 years in jail, Fatehi was cleared of intentional murder, ordered her to pay diyeh (blood money for the death), and released on bail (January 2007). As of 2012, Fatehi's whereabouts were reported to be unknown to concerned supporters outside of Iran.


Nazanin Fatehi and the niece involved in the event leading to Fatehi's arrest, also a minor, are described as being "from an economically deprived Kurdish family" living in "abysmal poverty".[1][2] Reports of family life include "a mother who [felt] that she was cursed to give birth to a girl" and the expectation that Nazanin would remain uneducated and care for siblings, and a father addicted to opium, with references to physical and psychological abuse from parents and a male sibling, and childhood sexual abuse by a family acquaintance.[2] Their home, in the relevant time period, was in Karaj, west of Tehran.[1]

Description of the crime, trial, and initial conviction[edit]

Nazanin Fatehi, as reported in the Iranian daily Etemaad, was 17 years old at the time of these events; she and her 15-year-old niece were traveling in a secluded park area near Karaj, their home, west of Tehran;[1][3] there, per the Amnesty International description of the case, a "group of youths surrounded the girls and tried to rape them". The men were alleged to have pushed Fatehi and her niece to the ground and attempted the sexual assault; the defendant then reportedly took a knife from her pocket, trying to protect herself, and stabbed one of the men in the hand.[citation needed]

According to Fatehi, as reported in the Etemaad article,[citation needed] the girls then tried to escape but the men overtook them;[citation needed] at this point Fatehi stabbed one of the male attackers in the chest (a wound that eventually led to his death), fled the scene for a police location, and reported the incident.[1] According to the account of the court proceedings in the Etemaad source,[citation needed] when being interrogated by the judge Fatehi began to sob uncontrollably and yelled: "I did not want to kill him! I am not at all a bad-doer. Mr. Judge, what do you want to do with me? I am a girl child! How many times do I have to say that I did this to defend myself and my niece?"[This quote needs a citation] According to the Amnesty account, the defendant told the court: "I wanted to defend myself and my niece… However, I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help".[1]

According to the original Etemaad story,[citation needed] one of the boyfriends[who?] recalls the events in this way: "In an instant, three young men approached us in a threatening manner and said some horrible things to us. Then, Mohammad,[who?] one of those men, attacked us with a rock. Samieh[who?] got off of my motorcycle and approached the men to fight them. Roozbeh[who?] and I were both scared, so we got on our motorcycles to flee, and just as we got on our bikes, I saw one of the men on the ground bleeding."[This quote needs a citation] No source has reported what independent witnesses said about the encounter.[original research?][citation needed] The Etemaad news story also reports that at the time of the attack, Fatehi was a runaway who was disowned by her family;[citation needed] however, a phone interview with Fatehi's mother is reported to have shown that her mother displayed great concern about her daughter's fate, and that she tearfully pleaded for her daughter's life.[citation needed] In the same interview, Nazanin's mother reportedly confirmed that she had asked the mother of the deceased man for pardon, but that she had been refused.

Nazanin Fatehi was sentenced to qesas, to death in retaliation for murder, in January 2006,[1][4] by a criminal court of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[citation needed] The verdict was death by hanging.[citation needed][3]

Public reactions to the initial conviction[edit]

Fatehi had claimed to act in self-defense; critics[who?] have pointed out that in another country she might have been acquitted, or received only a short prison sentence.[citation needed] Iran also makes minors of young age eligible for the death penalty—at 15 years for males, and 9 years for females.[5][better source needed] In response to their review of the facts of the case, Amnesty International began to lobby on behalf of Fatehi.[citation needed] "I think cases like this are illustrative of the fact there is a serious human rights crisis in Iran; the death penalty, discrimination against women and a whole host of other concerns. It really is time for the international community to put those issues right at the top of the agenda", said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. In this and others public statements, Amnesty International addressed its concerns about the Fatehi case.[citation needed]

Musician, activist, and former Iranian Miss World Canada Nazanin Afshin-Jam initiated an appeal, the "Save Nazanin Campaign", starting a petition that attracted more than 350,000 signatures worldwide (January 2007), in an effort to save Fatehi's life.[3][6][7] Negar Azmudeh, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, helped the Campaign, arguing that the case demonstrated the unjust treatment of women in Iran.[citation needed] Azmudeh told Canadian Television (CTV) that had Fatehi been killed by a man, he would likely not have received a death sentence "[b]ecause the value of his life would be twice as much as Nazanin's."[This quote needs a citation]

The aforementioned petition regarding the Fatehi case was directed at Mr. Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations.[citation needed] Following a meeting at the UN between Nazanin Afshin-Jam and UN high commissioner Louise Arbour, the UN contacted the Iranian government regarding the Fatehi case.[citation needed] In relation to the international appeal effort, Fatehi gave an interview in 2006, via questionnaire, to Ms. Afshin-Jam.[citation needed][relevant? ] Ms. Afshin-Jam also addressed Canadian parliament members regarding the matter on June 5, 2006, and MP Belinda Stronach rose in the House of Commons of Canada during Question Period to ask the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay to confirm that he had received assurances from the Iranian embassy that a new trial was ordered for Fatehi.[citation needed]

Legal appeal and overturn of sentence[edit]

Fatehi's case was scheduled to be reviewed by the Iranian Supreme Court the week following the original conviction.[when?][citation needed] Her time in prison, initially for 6 mos. before the overturn of sentence, but stretching eventually to 2 years, includes reports of being drugged and beaten.[2] As reported by the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, the Supreme Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran ordered the death sentence of Nazanin Fatehi overturned on June 1, 2006 "reportedly on the instruction of the Head of the Judiciary", Ayatollah Shahroudi,[1][7] subject to payment of diyeh (blood money) to the family of the alleged rapist that had died.[citation needed] Fatehi was nevertheless placed in solitary confinement[when?], and a retrial set for August 2006.[ambiguous][citation needed]


The retrial of Nazanin Fatehi began on August 30, 2006,[where?][citation needed], lasting from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. Fatehi, her 3 lawyers, and members of her family were present,[citation needed] while members of the family of the deceased were absent.[citation needed] Fatehi told the Judge that she has been honest from the very beginning; extending an arm out to the Judge, she expressed that it she had come forward, giving the knife to the police at the scene, and telling them that she had stabbed the man in self-defense, to protect her honor.[citation needed] Further addressing the Judge, she asked what he would have done, facing 3 attackers, but received no response.[citation needed] Fatehi's mother Maryam addressed the court, expressing discontent that officials had made Fatehi sign her own death sentence earlier,[when?][citation needed] since Nazanin had no education and was unable to read or understand the papers being signed.[citation needed] She was ultimately asked to leave the courtroom, for the emotion she was displaying.[citation needed] Fatehi's father stood up and addressed the court, denying newspaper reports that Nazanin was a run-away and that he had told the Judges to go ahead with the execution.[citation needed] A Judge replied that the claims appeared in their reports; the subsequent request by Nazanin's father for verification of the information led the court to acknowledge that the records did not support the injurious statements.[citation needed] According to an Etemaad report on the retrial, Fatehi's niece also testified in her favor.[citation needed]

Canadian activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam made a video appeal to Iranian officials 5 days prior to the re-trial, and, with the Calvin Ayre Foundation, released a documentary titled "The Tale of Two Nazanins"; the short documentary directed by Hossein Martin Fazeli featured Nazanin's family in Iran, and an emotional phone conversation with Nazanin Fatehi from her prison.[7][8]

No judgement was made at the first convening of the retrial, and the court announced a continuance scheduled for January 10, 2007.[citation needed] After brief delays, the trial began with many observers in the courtroom, and 2 of Fatehi's defense attorneys proceeding with their defense.[citation needed] The re-trial ended on January 14 with a unanimous decision by the 5 judges,[citation needed][4] clearing Fatehi of intentional murder, but ordering her to pay diyeh (blood money/restitution) for the death,[1][3][citation needed] i.e., in order to receive a pardon from the family of the deceased.[citation needed]

Release, and appeal of diyeh[edit]

Fatehi's lawyers, Shadi Sadr and Mohamad Mostafaei,[9] appealed the court decision regarding the payment of diyeh (see above), and made arrangements for Fatehi to be released from prison on bail.[citation needed] The amount of bail was on the order of ≈US$40–50,000 (400-465M rials),[4] in addition to the diyeh of >US$32,000 (300M rials),[3] and a trust fund was established by Nazanin Afshin-Jam to collect the necessary funds to post bail in order to free Fatehi.[citation needed][10] On January 31, 2007, Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi was released on bail. In April 2007, Nazanin's attorney filed objection to the part of the verdict that required Nazanin Fatehi to pay the retribution.[citation needed][needs update]

Current status[edit]

As of July 2012, the whereabouts of Fatehi were reported as unknown by individuals in the West with whom she had prior contact[11], with current contact being only the most sporadic.[2][6][12] A book from Canadian supporter and activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam appeared in 2012 chronicling the divergent lives of these two Iranian Nazanins, whose lives intersected during the period of Fatehi's trial;[13] media responses to the book were generally positive.[3][6][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Amnesty International Report, 2011, "Iran: The last executioner of children 5. Campaigning wins reprieves (Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi)", released 1 January 2011. See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d Cheryl Girard, Winnipeg Free Press Print Edition, 2012, "A lifeline to Iranian teen from a world away", 16 June 2012, See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f ICI Radio Canada article, 2007, "Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi is saved" (Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi est sauvée), 15 January 2007. See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Winnipeg Free Press Print Edition, 2007, "Jailed Iranian teen freed", 1 February 2007, See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  5. ^ Darius Kadivar, 2006, "Taking a Stand: Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Former Miss World Canada 2003, Struggles To Save Iranian Compatriot From Execution", Payvand Iran News, 27 April 27, 2006. See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Margot Grant, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 2012, "Fighting for condemned children", 6 July 2012, See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Payvand Iran News, 2007, "Bodog.TV broadcasts Tale of Two Nazanins", 8 January 27, 2007. See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  8. ^, 2007-2014, "Save the Life of An Iranian Woman", April 12, 2010. See See or, accessed 1 May 2014.
  9. ^ Farnaz Fassihi, The Wallstreet Journal [online], 2009, "Debate Over Child Executions Roils Iran's Presidential Vote", 29 May 2009, See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  10. ^ "Working to save the life of an Iranian Woman". Calvin Ayre Foundation. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  11. ^ "The Tale of Two Nazanins coauthor Nazanin Afshin-Jam reveals that the other Nazanin is alive". Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly. 2012-07-04. Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  12. ^ Pauk McLeod, The Chronicle Herald [online], 2012, "News–Five Questions, Afshin-Jam: No conflicts in this household", 9 July 2012, See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  13. ^ Nazanin Afshin-Jam and Susan McClelland, 2012, "The Tale of Two Nazanins", Scarborough Ontario:HarperCollins Canada, 272 pp. ISBN 9781554689729. See, accessed 1 May 2014.
  14. ^ David Maynard, Rights, 2006, "Save Nazanin from Nazanin", 2 October 2006, See, accessed 1 May 2014.

External links[edit]