Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

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

Nuranieh Yarshater


Age: 58
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Baha'i
Civil Status: Single


Date of Killing: February 10, 1981
Location of Killing: Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Stabbing

About this Case

Information regarding the extrajudicial execution of Ms. Nuranieh (Nura) Yarshater (also spelled "Nuraniyyih Yarshatir") daughter of Rohanieh and Hashem, was collected from Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran website (June 24, 2020), Katayun Taqizadeh on Facebook (February 22, 2021), Kayhan Newspaper, London (August 26, 2018), Ehsan Yarshater Wikipedia, and memories of Ms. Mah Mehr Golestaneh and Dr. Cyrus Towfiq about Ms. Yarshater. 

Ms. Yarshater was 59.  She was born in Hamedan, into a Baha’i family originally from Kashan. Her father was a merchant and her mother, Rohanieh Misaqieh, was known as a progressive woman. Ms. Yarshater had three brothers. One of her brothers is Mr. Ehsan Yarshater who was interested in Persian language and literature. He edited the Encyclopaedia Iranica and founded the Center for Iranian Studies, among other activities.

According to available information, Ms. Yarshater lost her parents in childhood. She and her younger brother went to live with their grandmother, Ms. Jahan Misaqieh. Ms. Yarshater attended Tarbiat (Baha’i) School in Tehran.  In her youth she married Mr. Ruhollah Motevajeh, but they eventually separated. She had two sons from that marriage. She knew English and worked at the Book Translation and Publishing Company of the Pahlavi Foundation. Being a Baha’i, Ms. Yarshater did not have a comfortable life in Iran. “She was persecuted and harassed because of her adherence to the Baha’i Faith.  She was often verbally assaulted by prejudiced neighbors, and her car was twice deliberately rammed.” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran)

The Baha’i International Community published a report in 1999, entitled “Iran’s secret blueprint for the destruction of the Baha’i community”.  This report catalogues the persecution of Baha’is in Iran and lists the Baha’is who had been killed since 1978. Ms. Nuranieh Yarshater is one of 206 people listed in this report.

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

Authorities of the Islamic Republic have subjected the members of the Baha'i religious community of Iran (the largest minority, with approximately three hundred thousand members) 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. *

They have been banned from any activities in the public realm, and their political, social, and economic rights are constantly violated. Baha’is are deprived of the right to education, particularly higher education, and are banned from holding jobs in the government or in government-affiliated entities. They are not even safe and secure in owning private businesses, and in many cases, their places of business have either been attacked by individuals and groups affiliated with the government or are shut down for refusing to work on religious holy days. The Iranian regime arrests Baha’is on trumped up charges on a regular basis. [3] 

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). 

Ms. Yarshter’s Death

On February 10, 1981, Ms. Yarshater was murdered in her home in Tehran by person or persons unknown.  Her wrist and throat had been slit with a kitchen knife.

According to available information, Ms. Yarshater’s brother found her body a few days after she was killed.  Ms. Yarshater had been home alone at the time of the murder.  (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran)

The London Edition of Kayhan Newspaper attributed the extrajudicial execution of Ms. Yarshater to her brother’s activities: “Ever since the early day, the Islamic Republic opposed Dr. Yarshater and his activities in safeguarding Persian culture and language.  Dr. Yarshater was known to be a Baha’i and he worked for the preservation of Persian culture and language.  Both of these attributes were in complete opposition to the goals of the Muslim revolutionaries.  The first blow sustained by Dr. Yarshater was the murder of his sister Ms. Nouranieh Yarshater in Tehran.” (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran) 

Officials’ Reaction

According to available information, the police report states that someone entered Ms. Yarshater’s home by force.  The authorities did not pursue this murder.

Family's Reaction

Ms. Yarshater’s brother pursued the case of her murder, but he was not able to make any progress in finding the murderer.  Police officials did not do anything to resolve this case. (Archives of Baha’i Persecution in Iran)


[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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