Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Nosrat Ghofrani Yalda'i


Age: 56
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Married


Date of Killing: June 18, 1983
Location of Killing: Central Prison (Adelabad), Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Hanging
Charges: Religious offense; Espionage

About this Case

The two poles of her life in Shiraz, Fars Province, were the family home and the local Baha’i Spiritual Assembly.

Ms. Nosrat Ghofrani (also spelled "Nusrat Ghufrani") Yalda'i, a homemaker and a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly in Shiraz, is one of the 206 Iranian Baha’is listed in a 1999 report published by the Baha’i International Community. The report, Iran’s Secret Blueprint for the Destruction of a Religious Community, documents the persecutions of the members of the Faith in the Islamic Republic of Iran and lists the Baha’is killed since 1978. Additional information was drawn from the newspaper Khabar-e Jonub, published in Shiraz (22 February 1983), and from various issues of the The Baha’i World. See for example: Vol. XVIII, 1979-1983, Haifa 1986 or description of events as published in A Tribute to the Faithful by Mah Mihr Gulistanih, or Olya's Story by Olya Roohizadegan and A Congressional Hearing in World Order Magazine, Winter 1983-1984 edition and a letter written by Mr. Ishraqi to his family outside of Iran on 29/11/1981.

The Baha’is in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Background

The authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran - the largest religious minority, with approximately 300 thousand members in 1979(1)- to systematic harassment and persecution, depriving them of their most fundamental human rights. The Baha'i religion is not recognized under the Constitution of the Islamic Republic, and Iranian authorities refer to it as a heresy. As a result, the Baha'is have been denied the rights associated with the status of a religious minority; they cannot profess and practice their faith, and are banned from public functions. Discrimination under the law and in practice has subjected them to abuse and violence.(2)

Persecution of Baha’is in Iran is not specific to the time of the Islamic Republic but it was in this era that it was amplified and institutionalized. During the Revolution itself, supporters of Ayatollah Khomeini attacked Baha’i homes and businesses and in certain instances, even committed murder.

On the eve of his return from France to Iran, in response to a question regarding political and religious freedom of Baha’is under the rule of an Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini stated: “They are a political party; they are harmful and detrimental. They will not be acceptable.” The interviewer asked another question: “Will they be free to perform their religious rites?” The Ayatollah responded: “No.” Khomeini had previously “spoken of the Baha’i threat to the Shah’s regime, Islam, national unity, and national security” in various speeches. (Asoo website, October 6, 2015).

Arrest and detention

Ms. Yalda'i was arrested on the evening of 23 October 1982 by revolutionary guards who entered her home about ten minutes after members of a Baha'i committee, to which her son belonged, had left the premises. After the guards searched their home, collected and removed Baha'i and other books and documents, she, along with her son, husband and her Baha'i neighbor were arrested and taken to the Sepah [Revolutionary Guards] Detention Centre, where she was humiliated and tortured.

Because of her religious beliefs, the prison authorities considered her to be an unbeliever, and thus "unclean", and she was subjected to humiliating treatment similar to that of atheist political prisoners. Prison wardens refused to have any physical contact with the prisoner even when, for example, they were guiding the blindfolded prisoner to the interrogation room. In such case guards would give her the end of a folded newspaper and hold the other end, avoiding contact.

During her initial interrogation on 25 October 1982, she was asked about the names of other members of the Local Assembly. After refusing to submit information about fellow Baha’is, she was taken to the basement of the prison by a female guard, who removed some of her clothes, tied her to a bed facing down, and instructed a guard to flog her while the female guard verbally abused her, and the interrogator stood next to the bed holding on to her file. During that episode, she received 50 lashes on her back and 50 on her feet (Olya's Story, p. 122). During her detention, she was repeatedly asked to denounce her faith publicly and urge other Baha’is to return to Islam. As she refused to do so, she was beaten as many as 200 lashes twice. According to reports by former cellmates, weeks after she was subjected to such treatment, sore spots and open wounds were still visible (World Order, p. 27).

While in custody, Ms. Yalda’i faced psychological abuse by various methods including sleep deprivation She was also taken by the officials at night to point out homes of Baha’is. She was confronted twice with fellow Baha'i prisoner, Yadu’llah Mahmudnizhad and once with her son, Bahram, while the guards threatened to torture him.(Olya's Story, p. 125). She was kept in solitary confinement for 55 days with very limited personal hygiene privileges. On 15 January 1983, Ms. Yalda'i was transferred to Adelabad Prison where she remained in custody until her execution.


Iranian authorities provided no detail regarding Ms. Yalda'i's trial to her family. However, according to reports by the the Baha’i World, authorities informed the defendant that she would be subjected to four “sessions” in which she would be given the opportunity to recant her faith and accept Islam. She was informed that if she did not sign a prepared statement rejecting Baha’ism, she would be killed. It is unclear if all these sessions took place and whether or not these sessions replaced a trial.


The text of the indictment was not provided to Ms. Yalda’i’s family. However, the available information indicates that the charges against the defendant related to her religious beliefs. While in detention, the defendant was interrogated and tortured to recant her faith. Further, in an interview published in the Newspaper Khabar-e Jonub the religious judge, head of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal of Shiraz, in charge of the case, warned the Baha’is “to embrace dear Islam and …recant Baha’ism, which is rationally and logically doomed, before it is too late”.

The judge also discussed at length the charges and the alleged crimes committed by the defendants and argued that they were arrested because they were active members of the Baha’i administration and because of their “direct or indirect” relationship with the House of Justice based in Israel, which “follows the Israeli government”.

The judge’s statements regarding those arrested also stressed that the religious activities of the defendants were criminal activities based on Article 13 of the constitution, which “deems illegal any activity for Baha’is and considers a crime the organization of committees, councils, or receptions and any such activities…”

Finally, in his interview, the head of the Shiraz Revolutionary Tribunal addressed the Baha’i community as a whole, asking its members to recant their faith or face the consequences: “Soon a day will come when the Muslim nation will deal with the Baha’is the way they dealt with the Hypocrites** …who have diabolic religious pretexts, and will carry out its religious duty, and Baha’is should know that …the Hezbollah Umma will have no difficulty uprooting them.”

Evidence of guilt

No information is available on the evidence presented against the defendant or the latter’s relationship with the Israeli government. . However, in his February interview the religious judge elaborated on the Baha’i community’s activities and beliefs as the evidence of their guilt.

The Judge refuted the assertion that Baha’is do not get involved in politics and abide by their government, noting that they had not been supportive of the Islamic Republic and had their own administration: “…These people say: ‘We did not participate in any demonstration against the idolatrous [regime]… We did not participate in any of the Islamic Republic’s votes…because all this is politics and, from a religious perspective, we condemn participation in politics. We have our own elections and the Baha’i administration is independent...” While establishing the fact that Baha’is act independently from the state and have an independent administration, the House of Justice, as evidence that they are not loyal to the government, the judge also argued that because the House of Justice is located in Israel, the Baha’is are loyal to the government of Israel.

The very fact that Baha’is have a religious administration outside the “administration of Islam”, is, for the judge, a proof of disloyalty and guilt: “So we can see that these…children of Satan and mercenaries of Israel’s House of Justice have created an administration and a government, no matter how ridiculous, in the face of the government and the administration of Islam. Ironically, they say that ‘we are submissive to the government and whatever the government says we abide by it.’ However, this is only a way of covering the fact that they are acting independently from the people.”


No information is available on Ms. Yalda'i's defense. However, the representatives of the Baha'i community stress that their members are being persecuted for their religious beliefs. They note that Baha'is' requests to access their files are usually denied, and that even though they have been allowed to avail themselves of the services of a defense counsel since the mid-1990s, attorneys are often under pressure not to accept Baha'i clients. They refute the validity of charges such as counter-revolutionary political activities or spying leveled against them in Iranian courts. They point out that the fundamental principles of their religion require them to show loyalty and obedience to their government and refrain from any political involvement.

They believe that the accusation of espionage for Israel is unfounded and based solely on the fact that the Baha'i World Centre is in Israel. They point out that this centre was established on Mount Carmel in the late 19th century, long before the establishment of the State of Israel.


The authorities did not communicate the text of the sentence to Ms. Yalda’i’s family. However, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Tribunal justified the sentence against the arrested Baha'is in his February interview with Khabar-e Jonub newspaper where he stated:

“It is clear that there is no room, whatsoever, for Baha’is and Baha’ism in the Islamic Republic of Iran.. ...” He referred to the individuals who were sentenced to death as kofar harbi [refers to those unbelievers who live in areas outside Muslim rule and who have no rights, not even the right to live] and noted that: “the individuals who have been sentenced to death were active members of the Baha’i faith to whose evil, naïve people were exposed. Their association with satans inside and outside [the country] and their enmity with Islam and Muslims are to a large measure obvious.”

The publication of this interview led the families of the prisoners to visit the Emam Jom’eh (Friday Prayer leader) and Governor of the Fars Province as well as officials in the Capital to look into the authenticity of the news. At the same time an international campaign in favor of the imprisoned Baha'is was launched, but it remained unsuccessful. The Revolutionary Court of Shiraz sentenced Nusrat Yalda'i to death and the Supreme Court approved the sentence. On 18 June 1983, she was taken, along with the other women, to Abdo’llah Mesgar Garrison, also known as Chogan Square where she was forced to watch as the other women were hanged. When her turn came, she was given a final chance to recant her faith. When she refused to do so, she was hanged.

The authorities did not inform Ms. Yalda’i’s family of her execution. Her family learned of the execution accidentally and was not allowed to bury her body. The authorities buried her along with the other executed Baha’is in the Baha’i cemetery of Shiraz, without washing her or observing any other burial custom.


1- ‘Slow Death for Iran’s Baha’is’ by Richard N. Ostling, Time Magazine,20 February 1984. Also see ‘The Persecution of the Baha’is of Iran, 1844-1984, by Douglas Martin, Baha’i Studies,volume 12/13, 1984, p. 3. There is no information about the current number of Baha’is in Iran.
2- The Islamic Republic Penal Code grants no rights to Baha'is, and the courts have denied them the right to redress or to protection against assault, murder, and other forms of persecution and abuse. In so doing, the courts have treated Baha'is as unprotected citizens or "apostates," citing eminent religious authorities whose edicts are considered to be a source of law equal to acts of Parliament. The Founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Khomeini, made execution a punishment for the crime of apostasy and decreed that a Muslim would not be punished for killing an apostate. 

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