Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi


Age: 28
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam (Shi'a)
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: August, 1988
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: War on God, God's Prophet and the deputy of the Twelfth Imam; Counter revolutionary opinion and/or speech

About this Case

Information about Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi was gathered from an article written by her cellmate on the Mojahedin Khalq website. Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi is listed among 3,208 members and sympathizers of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, whose executions were reported by the organization in a book titled Crime Against Humanity. She is also one of 1,000 people identified in a UN Human Rights Commission’s Special Representative’s Report, published on January 26, 1989. Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi is one of the 1,533 executed prisoners listed by the Association of Iranian Women of Köln (Germany). The list, published on September 10, 1997, is titled:  "A partial list of names of women executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.” The Boroumand Foundation has collected additional information regarding the 1988 massacre from the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports from the human rights organizations, interviews with witnesses and victims’ families; as well as the Bidaran website. *

Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi was born in Tehran. She was a sympathizer of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization and was active in the Social Faction of this organization. According to her cellmate, “Maryam was a well-known and unforgettable character in the prison. It seemed that various pressures and torture did not change her morale. Her loving laughter attracted attention in all the cells and sections of the prison. One of her outstanding characteristics was her positive and happy attitude towards others … . She was so energetic and playful that everyone called her “earthquake” jokingly … . Maryam was skillful in stone carving and creating miniature things with stone. Sometimes she worked for weeks on a piece. One of her masterpieces was carving a beautiful flower behind barbed wire on a small black stone, using only a needle. She then used blanket threads to create a beautiful and unique necklace.” Her brother, Reza Mohammadi Bahman Abadi was also hanged at Evin Prison in 1988.     

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary, and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis, the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to a split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released, along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and to recruit new members, based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and infiltration of governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda.  During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders. **

Arrest and Detention

According to the Mojahedin Khalq website, quoting a cellmate of Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi, she was arrested during a street demonstration on September 27, 1981. She was detained for seven years in Qezelhesar, Gohardasht, and Evin prisons and was tortured severely. According to her cellmate, who met her at the Punishment Section of Qezelhesar, “She was continuously tortured physically and mentally for months in a grave-like wooden containment, blindfolded and in absolute silence. When she returned to the public cell, she suffered from various diseases, including harsh backaches and severe arthritis, in such a way that touching water caused all the joints in her hands and feet to swell up and become painful.” 

Maryam was first transferred to the Evin prison in 1985. Then, she was transferred to Gohardasht. All female political prisoners were transferred to Evin Prison in the fall of 1987. Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi had some visitations with her family, but the dates of such visitations are unknown. Her cellmate describes these visitations as follows:  “Visitations normally included 20 people behind a glass wall and by phone. Each person took a cubicle with a number. After ten minutes, phones were cut off, and the visitation was over.”  


Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi was first tried and condemned to death, but the sentence had been reduced to life imprisonment. No information is available about her second trial. According to the testimonies of some of the political prisoners who were tried during the executions of the summer of 1988 in Gohardasht and Evin prisons. The trials took place in a room on the ground floor of the prison after a few weeks of isolation, during which prisoners were deprived of visitation, television and radio broadcasts, and outdoor time. In August and September, a three-member delegation, composed of Hojatoleslam Eshraqi, the prosecutor; Hojatoleslam Nayyeri, the religious judge; and Hojatoleslam PurMohammadi, the representative of the Ministry of Information. They asked prisoners their views on the Mojahedin, whether they would renounce their beliefs and if they were ready to cooperate against the Mojahedin.

Based on what the answers were, the prisoners would have been charged as being “counter revolutionary, anti-religion and anti-Islam,” or, “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders,” and would be sentenced to death.   The authorities never informed prisoners about the delegation’s purpose and the serious implications of their responses. During the summer of 1988, according to survivors, a large number of prisoners sympathizing with the Mojahedin or Leftist groups were executed for not recanting their beliefs. 

Relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refuted the legality of the judicial process that resulted in thousands of executions throughout Iran. In their 1988 open letter to then-Minister of Justice, Dr. Habibi, they argue that the official secrecy surrounding these executions is proof of their illegality. They note that an overwhelming majority of these prisoners had been tried and sentenced to prison terms, which they were either serving or had already completed when they were retried and sentenced to death.


No charge has been publicly leveled against the victims of the 1988 mass executions. In their letters to the Minister of Justice (1988) and to the UN Special Rapporteur visiting Iran (February 2003), the families of the victims refer to the authorities’ accusations against the prisoners  – accusations that may have led to their execution. These accusations include being “counter-revolutionary, anti-religion, and anti-Islam,” as well as being “associated with military action or with various [opposition] groups based near the borders.” 

An edict of the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, reproduced in the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, his designated successor, corroborates the reported claims regarding the charges against the executed prisoners. In this edict, Ayatollah Khomeini refers to members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization as “hypocrites,” who do not believe in Islam and who “wage war against God” and decrees that prisoners who still approve of the positions taken by this organization are also “waging war against God” and should be sentenced to death. 

Evidence of Guilt

The report of this execution does not contain information regarding the evidence provided against Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi.


No information is available on Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi’s defense before the three-member committee. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners noted that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The same letter, rebutting the accusation that these prisoners (from inside the prison) had collaborated with armed members of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in clashes with armed forces of the Islamic Republic, states that such claims “are false, considering the circumstances in prisons; for our children faced most difficult conditions [in prison, with] visitation rights of once every 15 days, each visitation lasting ten minutes through a telephone, from behind the glass window, and were deprived of any connection with the outside world. We faced such conditions for seven years, which proves the truth of our claim.”


Ms. Maryam Mohammadi Bahman Abadi was executed in Evin Prison during the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. The details regarding the sentences of the executions are not available.  Months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed the victims’ belongings to their families.  The bodies, however, were not returned to them.  The bodies were buried in mass graves, and the locations are not known to the families.  Authorities warned the families of prisoners against holding memorial ceremonies.


*“Crime Against Humanity” documents the 1988-1989 mass execution of political prisoners in Iran. The book was published by the Mojahedin Khalq Organization in 2001. The UN Human Rights Commission’s Special Representative’s Report published in January 26, 1989 contains a list of 1000 people who were executed in Iran in 1988. The report of “Names and particulars of persons allegedly executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran during the period July-December 1988,” specifies that although 1000 names are mentioned, “in all probability” there were several thousand victims. “Most of the alleged victims were members of the Mojahedin. However, members of the Tudeh Party, People’s Fedaiyan Organization, Rah-e Kargar, and Komala Organization and 11 mollahs were also said to be among the alleged victims.”

**The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’ efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the regime called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime.

In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq war. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the Forugh Javidan  Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country.

In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.

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