Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Mahin Qorbani


Age: 27
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Single


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

About this Case

Information about Ms. Mahin Qarbani has been provided by an former cellmate, via an electronic form. Ms. Qorbani is among 3208 members and sympathizers of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO, also PMIO) whose execution was reported by the organization in a book entitled Crime Against Humanity. This book documents the 1988-89 mass execution of political prisoners. Information about the mass executions has been gathered by the Boroumand Foundation from the memoir of Ayatollah Montazeri, reports of human rights organizations, interviews with victims’ families, and witnesses’ memoirs.

Arrest and detention

Ms. Qorbani was arrested in 1981. The details of her arrest are not known. She was kept in Evin, Qezelhesar, and Gohardasht prisons. Due to her complaints against the mistreatment of prisoners by guards and those prisoners who had recanted their previous political activism, Ms. Qorbani spent most of her imprisonment in cells, where the conditions were particularly harsh in order to “punish” the prisoners. She had been arrested due to her affiliation with the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, but toward the end of her life, she no longer believed in their principles. She did not pray and tried to distance herself from other Mojahedin sympathizers, who were imprisoned with her. She was alone most of the time. In the last year before her execution, despite her youth she looked aged, with her face wrinkled and her hair grey.


Ms. Qorbani was tried and condemned to 10 years imprisonment. Specific details on the circumstances of the trials that led to the execution of Ms. Qorbani and thousands of other individuals in 1988 are not known. According to existing information, there was no official trial with the presence of an attorney and prosecutor. Those who were executed in 1988 were sent to a three-man committee consisting of a religious judge, a representative from the Intelligence Ministry, and a Public Prosecutor of Tehran. This committee asked the leftist prisoners some questions about their beliefs and whether or not they believed in God.

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 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 “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 the defendant.


No information is available on Ms. Qorbani’s defense. 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 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.”


According to her cellmate, Ms. Mahin Qorbani was the last individual, affiliated with the Mojahedin Khalq Organization, who was taken from section 3 of women’s ward and never returned. Before her name was called, she was worried that she may not be called. She did not want to be differentiated from other MKO sympathizers, even though she had distanced herself from them. She wanted to go and tell the prison guards that they had forgotten to call her. When her name was called, she quickly took her veil and left the ward. She was hanged in the summer of 1988.

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