Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Foruzan Abdi Pirbazari


Age: 31
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

Known to be open-minded and tolerant, she was the captain of Iran’s national volleyball team, she knew how to organize and boost her colleagues’ morale.

Ms. Foruzan Abdi Pirbazari is one of the victims of the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Many of the executed prisoners were members or sympathizers of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO). However, members or supporters of Marxist Leninist organizations such as, the People’s Fedayian of Iran (Minority) or Peykar, which opposed the Islamic Republic, as well as the Tudeh Party and Fadayian Khalq (Majority), which did not oppose the regime, were among the victims. Complementary information about the mass execution has been gathered from the memoirs of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with family members, and memoirs of witnesses by the Boroumand Foundation.

Ms. Foruzan Abdi Pirbazari is listed among 3,208 members and sympathizers of the People's Mojahedin of Iran Organization whose execution was reported by the Organization in the book Crime Against Humanity. Her name has also been mentioned in the list of the victims of the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners published in a November 2, 1989 United Nations Report of the Economic and Social Council on the “Situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” by Mr. Reynaldo Galindo Pohl (El Salvador), Special Representative of the Commission on Human Rights, as well as the book 67 Massacre by Mr. Mas’ud Ansari. Additional information was drawn from the Bidaran and the Mojahedin websites, a report from Monireh Baradaran, who was her cellmate at various periods during her imprisonment and another cellmate, Mina Entezari’s memoirs.

Ms. Abdi was born in Tehran in 1957. She was the captain of the National Volleyball team and a sympathizer of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. According to her cellmate, Ms. Abdi was very popular among other inmates. Her cellmates remember her for her open-mindedness and tolerant attitude towards other political prisoners. In one instance, her cellmate recalls, when a repenting prisoner who was in charge of the cell ordered a leftist prisoner to separate her dishes from the others (because prison authorities treated prisoners who did not believe in God as “unclean”), Ms. Abdi had intervened and stressed that “no one considers the leftist prisoner as ‘unclean’ and whoever does, should separate her own dishes from others”. Ms. Abdi had also kept her athletic spirits during her years of imprisonment and organized volleyball games during the short period when female prisoners had access to a volleyball court at Qezelhesar prison.

Arrest and detention

Ms. Foruzan Abdi Pirbazari was arrested in 1981. The MKO website quotes one of her cellmates saying: "I saw her in section 8 of Qezelhesar in 1982. It was a section for special punishment and sometimes there were 25 to 30 people in a cell [that was meant to fit 3]… They placed Foruzan and some others in a restroom in early 1983. The place was so dirty that all of them contracted skin diseases. Then, they were transferred to solitary confinement at both Gohardasht and Qezelhesar prisons where they stayed until early 1986."

Ms. Baradaran, who saw Abdi at Gohardasht prison, reports that Ms. Abdi was protesting against the inhuman rules and behaviour of prison guards. As a result, for almost a year and half (fall 1983 - winter 1984), she was held in solitary confinement and was deprived from recreation time outside, from having contacts with others, reading newspapers, and having regular visits from her family.

Sometime in 1986, Ms. Abdi was transferred from Gohardasht to Evin prison where she was detained until her execution. During this period, she also spent most of her imprisonment in the closed section of the ward that prison authorities used for punishing prisoners. Those held in this section were held in closed cells and were allowed to leave their cells 3 times a day (for 30 minutes), during which time they could use the bathroom, wash their dishes and their clothes.


The details of Ms. Abdi’s first trial, in which she was condemned to five years imprisonment, are not known. However, she was not released after serving her term because she refused the authorities’ terms for her release.

(Authorities required prisoners to make a statement in front of other prisoners rejecting their ideas and their political groups as a condition for their release. Later, authorities would only require a signed statement. After the prison massacre of 1988, prisoners were required to sign a statement giving up political activities.)

There is no specific information about the 1988 trials that condemned Ms. Abdi and thousands of other political prisoners to death in just a few months period. According to the available information, the Iranian authorities did not try the victims of the 1988 mass execution in a court with in the presence of a defense lawyer. The prisoners who were executed in 1988 had been questioned by a three-member special committee, composed of a religious judge, a representative of the Intelligence Ministry, and the Tehran Prosecutor. The committee questioned the leftist prisoners about their beliefs and their faith in God and religion.

The relatives of political prisoners executed in 1988 refute 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 serving at the time they were retried and sentenced to death.


No charge has ever been publicly levelled against the victims of the 1988 mass execution. 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 accusations against the prisoners that may have led to their execution, as 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 from the Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, reproduced in the memoirs of his designated successor Ayatollah Montazeri, corroborates the reported claims regarding the charges against the executed prisoners. In this edict, Ayatollah Khomeini refers to the MKO members 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 contains no evidence provided against the defendant.


No information is available about her defense. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners note that defendants were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. Against the assertion that prisoners were associated with guerrilla forces operating near the borders, the families submit the isolation of their relatives from the outside during their detention: "Our children lived in most difficult conditions. Our visits were limited to 10 minutes behind a glass divider through a telephone every two weeks. We witnessed over seven years that they were denied access to anything that would have allowed them to establish contacts outside their prison walls." Under such conditions the families reject the claim of the authorities that these prisoners were able to engage with the political groups outside Iran.


The details of the death sentence are not known. According to her cellmates, Ms. Foruzan Abdi Pirbazari was transferred to the “sanatorium” section of Evin sometime in the late July 1988 and never returned. She is believed to have been among the first group of women who were hanged during the mass killings of the political prisoners in August 1988. Prisoners had read a poem on a cell wall in that section of Evin. The poem is believed to be written by her before her execution.

According to available information, months after the executions, prison authorities informed the families about the executions and handed in the victims’ belongings to their families. The bodies, however, were not returned to them. The bodies were buried in mass graves. Authorities warned the families of prisoners against holding memorial ceremonies.

Correct/ Complete This Entry