Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Soheila Mohammad-Rahimi


Age: 24
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
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

Soheila, daughter of Jalil, was compassionate, liked books, and loved to sing. Within a family of leftists, hers was a quiet commitment.

The information about Ms. Soheila Mohammad-Rahimi, daughter of Jalil, was gathered from interviews with her relatives. She is among 3,208 members and sympathizers of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization whose executions were reported by the organization in a book entitled Crime Against Humanity. This book documents the 1988-1989 mass execution of political prisoners in Iran.

She was born in Tehran on March 15, 1964. She was a senior, studying at Fatemeh Amini High School in Tehran and was a sympathizer of the Mojahedin Khalq Organization. Her sister, Ms. Mehrangiz Mohammad-Rahimi, was also one of the victims of the mass killings of political prisoners in 1988. Her brothers, Aziz and Hushang, were executed in 1981 and 1992, respectively.

Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was arrested for the first time on July 29, 1981, at the age of 17, along with her father and her brother, Hushang, in their house by Revolutionary Guards. After spending 24 hours at the Ferdosi Circle Committee, she was transferred to Evin Prison. From behind his blindfold, the interviewee saw her, along with her father and her brother, in a hallway in Evin Prison a month and a half after their arrest. Soheila and her family members were transferred to Qezelhesar Prison after three months in detention at Evin Prison. In 1981, she was tried at Evin and condemned to 10 years in prison. While in custody, she lost sight in one eye. In the summer of 1986, she was pardoned, because of her health and eye problems.

According to an interviewee, “Soheila was kind and compassionate. She did not talk much. She liked books and loved to sing. She also liked sports and played volleyball.

The Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) was founded in 1965. This organization adapted the principles of Islam as its ideological guideline. However, its members’ interpretation of Islam was revolutionary and they believed in armed struggle against the Shah’s regime. They valued Marxism as a progressive method for economic and social analysis but considered Islam as their source of inspiration, culture, and ideology. In the 1970s, the MKO was weakened when many of its members were imprisoned and executed. In 1975, following a deep ideological crisis, the organization refuted Islam as its ideology and, after a few of its members were killed and other Muslim members purged, the organization proclaimed Marxism as its ideology. This move led to split of the Marxist-Leninist Section of the MKO in 1977. In January of 1979, the imprisoned Muslim leaders of the MKO were released along with other political prisoners. They began to re-organize the MKO and recruit new members based on Islamic ideology. After the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, the MKO accepted the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini and supported the Revolution. Active participation in the political scene and infiltration of governmental institutions were foremost on the organization’s agenda. During the first two years after the Revolution, the MKO succeeded in recruiting numerous sympathizers, especially in high schools and universities; but its efforts to gain political power, either by appointment or election, were strongly opposed by the Islamic Republic leaders. *

Arrest and Detention

In 1986, after she was released from prison, Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi decided to leave Iran. She and her mother were going to the Iran-Turkey border but they were both arrested in the city of Salmas (in the West Azarbaijan province). They were interrogated for one week in Salmas and then transferred to Evin Prison. She had some visits with her father during the two-year imprisonment before her execution.


Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was tried after her second arrest and condemned to four years in prison. (Her mother was sentenced to two years imprisonment.)

There is no specific information about the circumstances of the trials that condemned Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi and thousands of other political prisoners to death within a few months’ period in 1988. According to existing information, there was no official trial with the presence of an attorney or 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.

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. Hassan 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.


In 1986, Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was charged with “intent to leave the country and join the Mojahedin Khalq Organization.” No public charge has been leveled against the victims of the 1988 massacre. 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, 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 the Mojahedin Khalq Organization’s members 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.


In her first two trials, Ms. Mohammad-Rahimi was denied an attorney. In their open letter, the families of the prisoners noted that the victims of the 1988 massacre were not given the opportunity to defend themselves in court. The same letter, rebutting the accusation that these prisoners had collaborated (from inside the prison) 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.”


No specific information is available about the defendant’s execution. Ms. Soheila Mohammad-Rahimi was hanged in Evin Prison during the mass killings of political prisoners in the summer of 1988. The officials gave her and her sister’s personal belongings to their father and told him, “Your daughters have been executed. You cannot hold a memorial ceremony for them.” The burial places of Soheila and her sister are not known. She was 24 years old.


*The exclusion of MKO members from government offices and the closure of their centers and publishing houses, in conjunction with to the Islamic Republic authorities’ different interpretation of Islam, widened the gap between the two. Authorities of the new regime referred to the Mojahedin as “Hypocrites” and the Hezbollahi supporters of the regime attacked the Mojahedin sympathizers regularly during demonstrations and while distributing publications, leading to the death of several MKO supporters. On June 20, 1981, the MKO called for a demonstration protesting their treatment by governmental officials and the government officials’ efforts to impeach their ally, President Abolhassan Banisadr. Despite the fact that the regime called this demonstration illegal, thousands came to the streets, some of whom confronted the Revolutionary Guardsmen and Hezbollahis. The number of casualties that resulted from this demonstration is unknown but a large number of demonstrators were arrested and executed in the following days and weeks. The day after the demonstration, the Islamic Republic regime started a repressive campaign – unprecedented in modern Iranian history. Thousands of MKO members and sympathizers were arrested or executed. On June 21, 1981, the MKO announced an armed struggle against the Islamic Republic and assassinated a number of high-ranking officials and supporters of the Islamic regime. *

In the summer of 1981, the leader of the MKO and the impeached President (Banisadr) fled Iran to reside in France, where they founded the National Council of Resistance. After the MKO leaders and many of its members were expelled from France, they went to Iraq and founded the National Liberation Army of Iran in 1987, which entered Iranian territory a few times during the Iran-Iraq war. They were defeated in July 1988 during their last operation, the Forugh Javidan Operation. A few days after this operation, thousands of imprisoned Mojahedin supporters were killed during the mass executions of political prisoners in 1988. Ever since the summer of 1981, the MKO has continued its activities outside of Iran. No information is available regarding members and activities of the MKO inside the country.

In defense: In spite of the “armed struggle” announcement by the MKO on June 20, 1981, many sympathizers of the organization had no military training, were not armed, and did not participate in armed conflict.

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