Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Behnush Azarian


Age: 20
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: June 21, 1981
Location of Killing: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Plotting to overthrow the Islamic Republic; Sympathizing with anti-regime guerilla groups; Non-marital sex

About this Case

The news of Ms. Behnush Azarian’s execution, and 22 others, comes from the Kayhan daily on June 22, 1981 that quotes the Islamic Republic’s Public Prosecutor’s Central Office.

Furthermore, Ms. Azarian is one of the 1533 executed prisoners listed by the Association of Iranian Women of Köln (Germany). The list published in 1997 is entitled: "A partial list of names of women executed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Moreover, 2 electronic forms (e-form) and e-mails were sent to Omid by persons familiar with her case. According to the available information, Ms. Azarian was born in Abadan (Khuzestan province) and resided in Tehran. She was a member of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (minority) and was taught guerrilla warfare. At the beginning of the 1979 Revolution, her father sent to the United States to join her siblings who were students there, but she returned to Iran after a few months stating that she could not bear to be away from events in Iran. She studied mechanical engineering. Ms. Azarian was reportedly 6 months pregnant at the time of her execution

This execution was also reported in an addendum to the Mojahed magazine (No 261), published by Mojahedin Khalq Organization in 1985. The list includes 12028 individuals, affiliated with various opposition groups, who were executed or killed during clashes with the Islamic Republic security forces from June 1981 to the publication date of the magazine.

Ms. Azarian, a member of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (minority), a secular Marxist-Leninist revolutionary organization opposed to the Islamic Republic, was executed one day after the June 20, 1981 demonstration. The demonstration of June 20, 1981, took place in protest against the parliament's impeachment of President Banisadr and the Islamic Republic's systematic policy of excluding the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) from the country's political scene, the refusal of Ayatollah Khomeini to meet with MKO leaders, and his insistence for them to disarm. The MKO, a Marxist Islamist revolutionary organization, had until then supported the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and agreed to function within the framework of the new political system. On June 20th, the Organization officially changed its policy and tried to overthrow the regime by organizing mass demonstrations, in which some of the demonstrators were armed, all over the country. These protests, which were severely suppressed and resulted in the killing of dozens of demonstrators, were followed by a wave of mass arrests and executions by the Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary forces that targeted not only the MKO, but all other opposition groups. The massive repression, unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic, legitimized as official government policy the months-old state harassment and suppression of dissidents and resulted in the banning of all forms of independent political dissent.

Arrest and detention

Ms. Azarian was arrested along with several other members of the Fadaiyan Khalq Organization (minority), including her boyfriend and one of the leaders of the organization, in Tehran in a team house where she lived, in the winter of 1980. She was imprisoned at the Evin Prison and was not allowed visitation with her family (e-form).

While in detention, Ms. Azarian was reportedly seen by her family and friends on state television, where she was brought to confess and denounce her association with the Fedayan Organization. (e-form)

International human rights organizations have repeatedly condemned the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its systematic use of severe torture and solitary confinement to obtain confessions from detainees and have questioned the authenticity of confessions obtained under duress. In the case of political detainees, these confessions are, at times, televised. The National Television broadcasts confessions during which prisoners plead guilty to vague and false charges, repent and renounce their political beliefs, and/or implicate others. Human rights organizations have also pointed to the pattern of retracted confessions by those prisoners who are freed.


According to the Kayhan daily report, Ms. Azarian, along with 7 others, was tried by the Islamic Republic’s Central Court in the afternoon of June 21, 1981. The trial concluded the same evening.

The defendant's family did not get a chance to provide her with an attorney. It is mentioned on one of the electronic forms that in a letter Ms. Azarian wrote that she and the others were tried, but were not allowed to speak during their trials.


Ms. Azarian’s charges were announced by the Islamic Republic’s Public Prosecutor’s Central Office and published in the Kayhan daily. The charges are as follows: “being a corruptor, having a lover, and having sexual relations outside of wedlock.” She and her fiancée were both accused of the same charges. Also the Prosecutor’s communiqué states that they were arrested “in relations with the recent plots by the grouplets against the Islamic Republic regime [referring to the demonstrations organized by the MKO].”

The validity of the criminal charges brought against this defendant cannot be ascertained in the absence of the basic guarantees of a fair trial. International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic’s authorities have brought trumped-up charges against their political opponents and executed them for drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences. The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

There is no information available on whether evidence was used against the defendant.


According to the electronic form, Ms. Azarian wrote a letter to her family after her sentencing, informing them about the verdict and that she was not allowed to speak on her behalf during her trial.


The verdict on Ms. Azarian’s, and 7 other, case was announced in the same evening as the start of their trial on June 22, 1981. She was found to be a “corruptor on earth” and an “enemy of God” and sentenced to death. Based on the available information, her name and that of her fellow activists were repeatedly announced on the national television where they were declared “apostates” and “enemies of God”. She was executed at Evin Prison, at 9 pm, June 22, 1981.

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