Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Shahla Ka'bi


Age: 34
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Non-Believer
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: August 29, 1980
Location of Killing: Sanandaj, Kordestan Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Unspecified counter-revolutionary offense; Providing medical care to counter-revolutionaries; Corruption on earth

About this Case

With conflict in Kordestan, she and her younger sister were nurses at the same hospital.  Their ethics were on view, as patients arrived from both sides of the clashes.

Ms. Shahla Ka'bi is one of the two Kurdish sisters, both nurses, whose execution was ordered by the itinerant religious judge, Sadeq Khalkhali (Jomhuri Eslami daily, 31 August 1980). Further information about this individual was obtained through an interview (6 May 2004) with one of her close relatives who indicated that details regarding the defendant's detention and execution were passed on to them by one of her former cellmates. The relative also referred to a brief section regarding the Ka'bi sisters in the Book of Prison (Naser Mohajeri, ed., Vol. 1, P 189) and noted that a tribute commemorating their execution was published in the Komeleh Party newsletter of 31 August 2001.

The arrest and execution of Ms. Ka'bi took place in the context of intensifying, and at times armed, conflict between the Islamic revolutionary government of Iran and the mainly Sunni province of Kurdistan regarding the drafting of the constitution and, in particular, the autonomy of the region. Following Ayatollah Khomeini’s order in 18 August 1979 to combat the “anti-Revolutionary” elements in Kurdistan, at least 58 Kurds were executed by the itinerant religious judge Sadeq Khalkhali in the course of ten days, 19-29 August 1979 (Mansoor Boloori, “The Demise of Sadeq Khalkhali”, Iranian Political Bulletin, 30 November 2003).

Arrest and detention

Based on the interview, Ms. Ka'bi was first arrested and exiled to Qazvin along with her sister in the fall of 1979, following the military crackdown on the Kurdistan province. In the spring of 1980, and after negotiations between a government mission headed by Daryush Foruhar and the Kurdish People’s Representative Delegation, she was encouraged to go back to her home and profession. On June 14, 1980, following the re-capturing of several Kurdish cities by government armed forces, she was re-arrested along with her sister. The arrest warrant was issued by Ayatollah Sadeq Khalkhali, and she was arrested by the Revolutionary Guards from her home in Saqqez.

Ms. Ka'bi spent a total of three months in detention at the Saqqez, Sanandaj, and Evin prisons. During this time, she was interrogated by local and other Revolutionary Guards, had no access to legal counsel, and was prohibited from contacting or visiting family and relatives.


Based on the available information, no trial was held for this person.


The Jomhuri Eslami report mentioned Ms. Ka'bi's charges as "participation in recent clashes" and "collaboration with the insurgents." However, the reason given by the authorities to her family for her arrest was "treating the anti-Revolutionaries in the Saqqez hospital."

Evidence of guilt

Based on the available information, no evidence was presented to support the charges brought against the defendant.


Ms. Ka'bi was not given a chance to defend herself. Ms. Ka'bi who, according to her family, was not politically involved, had engaged in treating the victims of these clashes as a nurse in the hospital. Her relative referred to her altruism and work ethics as a nurse and added that she would treat anyone in need, including Revolutionary Guards.


According to Ms. Ka'bi's cellmate, the religious judge issued a collective death sentence for the prisoners at the Sanandaj Garrison at night. The sentence was carried out at dawn. One of the prisoners present at the Garrison described Ms. Ka'bi's execution as follows:

"The guard takes Shahla and her sister, Nasrin, out of the prison ward without saying a word. The sisters stand next to each other with their backs to the wall, their hands tied behind their backs. A Revolutionary Guard brings two pieces of black fabric to blindfold them. Nasrin refuses to be blindfolded, but Shahla accepts. The Guard scorns: 'You are afraid, huh?!' Shahla says: 'Of course not! I just don't want to see my sister die.' At this point, Nasrin asks to be blindfolded as well."

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