Abdorrahman Boroumand Center

for Human Rights in Iran

https://www.iranrights.org
Omid, a memorial in defense of human rights in Iran
One Person’s Story

Farrokhru Parsa

About

Age: 57
Nationality: Iran
Religion: Islam
Civil Status: Married

Case

Date of Killing: May 8, 1980
Location: Evin Prison, Tehran, Tehran Province, Iran
Mode of Killing: Shooting
Charges: Prostitution and/or procuring; Adultery; Embezzlement of public funds; Unspecified anti-revolutionary offense; Collaborating with the political police SAVAK

About this Case

From biology teacher to doctor to Minister of Education, she made a big impact on schooling in Iran.  In the end, her independent mind and passion for improving girls’ education were seen as a threat.

The Prosecutor General of the Islamic Revolution announced the execution of Mrs. Esfand Farrokhru Parsa, former Minister of Education, along with two other individuals, in a communiqué published on May 8, 1980. The daily Enqelab-e Eslami reported the news the same day, quoting the Prosecutor's communiqué. Ettelaat (April 23 and 27, 1981) and Enqelab-e Eslami (April 29, 1980) reported on the first, second, and fifth sessions of her trial.

Ms. Parsa was a well-known public figure in pre-revolutionary Iran. She started her career as a biology teacher in a Tehran high school. She studied medicine and became a medical doctor. Her political career included membership in the Iran Novin Party, deputy in the Iranian Parliament, and a long tenure in the Ministry of Education.

Arrest and detention

No information regarding the circumstances of the defendant's arrest, which took place on February 17, 1980, and her subsequent detention is available.

Trial

Based on press reports, The Revolutionary Tribunal of Tehran tried Mrs. Parsa and Mr. Homayun Jaber Ansari. The first and second sessions of her trial took place on April 22 and 23, 1980. The press reports indicate there were three sessions of her trial.

Charges

The indictment against Mrs. Parsa was read by the presiding judge during the first session of the trial on April 22. The charges against her, as reported in Ettelaat, were:

"plunder of public treasury; causing corruption and spreading prostitution in the Ministry of Education; collaborating effectively with the disbanded SAVAK in order to repress and dismiss freedom loving combatant employees from the Ministry of Culture to strengthen the hated Pahlavi regime; giving effective speeches to strengthen the above mentioned regime; participating in passing anti-people laws; using her function and position to break the laws and make the education system reliant on imperialist culture; being close to Nasiri, who was executed; having unlawful relationship with the her office Director."

The indictment concludes following the description of the evidence (see below), "based on the fact that [the accused] belongs to the Baha'i sect, the Azali Branch, and has pretended to be a Muslim. Based on other evidence in her file, it is clear that the accused has committed sins. It is thus requested that her case be examined and she be sentenced to the maximum penalty and her property be confiscated."

International human rights organizations have drawn attention to reports indicating that the Islamic Republic’s authorities have executed individuals on trumped-up charges such as drug trafficking, sexual, and other criminal offences. The exact number of people convicted based on trumped-up charges is unknown.

Evidence of guilt

The indictment described the basis for the above mentioned charges. The evidence included individual complaints and reports regarding the defendant’s record as a Minister. The indictment listed the complaints as follows: "the complaint filed by Sharifzadeh accused her of using her position to close the plaintiff's school;" "the complaint filed by Abdolali Najafi stated there was abuse and corruption in the Ministry of Education and bribes were paid to journalists sympathetic to the hated Pahlavi regime for propaganda purposes;" "the complaint filed by Heidar Erfani accused her of being the cause of the plaintiff's exile;" "a report regarding the fact that the accused has misused several million tomans and has made the Ministry of Education dependant on American imperialist culture;" "a complaint by Mr. Mohammad Azizi accused her of forcing him to retire and causing him financial and psychological damage;" "a complaint filed by Mojtaba Modares Tirani accused her of closing his school which dishonored him and caused him damage;" "a complaint filed by Ms. Zahra Abaspur that the accused fired her husband, the doorman in Reza Pahlavi's school, because he failed to show respect to Prime Minister Hoveida, seriously affecting their lives and causing extraordinary damages;" "the complaint filed by Ms. Akhtar Ali Ashab stating the accused was an incompetent Minister and was taken advantage of by her assistants causing dissatisfaction and division among the staff;"

The indictment also referred to "a report by the disbanded SAVAK [political police] stating the accused imported 400 thousand rials worth of goods for her personal use without paying custom fees (abuse of power);" "an incitation letter to her, as Minister, from Nasiri [former head of the political police], who was executed;" "the fact that the accused was declared incompetent as a minister and responsible for the ruin of the education system by the employees of the Iran Novin Party;" a SAVAK report stating there was a weekly meeting of a number of the Mardom Party members during which the the defendant was accused of using her position to buy valuable carpets with government money and taking them to her house;" "the fact that the accused talked to her children who lived overseas using government funds."

In the fifth session of the trial ( Enqelab-e Eslami), the Prosecutor's representative defended the indictment. He criticized the defendant for her conduct while in office. He blamed her for having traveled to India and having visited that country's satellites, visits which were not relevant to her function/ profession. He also mentioned other official trips by the defendant to neighboring countries, gifts, her properties, a contract with the Franklin publishing house when she headed the Farah Educational Center, and "her plundering of public treasury". The report does not provide additional details on whether or not the Prosecutor provided any documents or specifics to support the above mentioned allegations.

Two plaintiffs testified against the defendant, following the statements made by the Prosecutor's Representative. The first witness, Mr. Hasan Nami, presented himself as an educator and noted that he had documents against the defendant that he would "provide to the Court if necessary." He testified generally against the officials in the Ministry of Education and noted that he had been in prison while they were in power and now he had a high management position in the Ministry of Education.

He accused the defendant of having considered herself a member of the Board of Directors in spite of the victory of the revolution and gave instructions to withdraw a large amount of money (1.5 million tomans) from the bank. He stressed the fact that the money was withdrawn quickly (within 48 hours), which proved that "these people belonged to a huge gang." Mr. Nami, also accused the defendant of having bought "800.000 tomans of Lab material for the Ministry of Education Complex No 2 before the building was completed. These materials, he said, "which are not worth 100.000 tomans, are not of use to us and are in storage." The report of this testimony does not mention documents provided by the witness to the Court regarding his allegations against the defendant.

The second witness testified on April 29. Ali Akbar Shams presented himself as an educator and brought accusations against a Deputy Minister of Education who, he asserted, "had used Israeli resources in this country and is not in Iran anymore." The newspaper report notes that the witness gave details about the harm done to him (including terminating his contract) by the Ministry of Education but provides no other details about his testimony.

Defense

The Court allowed Mrs. Parsa to make statements in her own defense in the second session of her trial (reported in Ettelaat daily on April 27) before the plaintiffs' testimonies. The report of the trial does not indicate that the defendant was allowed to question those who testified against her, and there is no mention of defense witnesses.

In her statements, the defendant denied the charges brought against her in the indictment. Regarding the accusation of plundering public funds, she declared: "I deny this charge. I was not able to use or misuse public funds since I was not involved in any financial or purchase related matters. If there is any specific evidence, I am accountable." Ms. Parsa also denied having imported goods without paying custom fees: "in the indictment, it was stated that [I] had brought 40,000 tomans worth of goods from Italy without paying custom fees. I have not imported any good from anywhere and if I have done so, there must be some custom document or receipt for the transaction. The SAVAK report is baseless. All their reports are lies."

She also rejected the charge of "unlawful relationship" with her subordinate stating: "I have no evidence to prove it. All I can do is to swear that this accusation is a lie."

Ms. Parsa defended herself against the charge of collaborating with the political police, SAVAK. She stressed that her refusal to collaborate had in fact caused SAVAK to retaliate and spread rumors against her: "For a couple of years, they [the SAVAK] were asking me to create an intelligence network among teachers but I knew that such a network would create an inquisitorial environment where there will be spying and teachers would be arrested. As long as I was in that position, I prevented the creation of such a network and this is why the letter was written. … I suggested instead an anti-communist campaign and submitted a project that [the Shah] approved. Some anti-communist literature was published and we were asked to distribute it among teachers. Of course this alternative did not satisfy them [the Political Police] and as long as I was in my position, they spread rumors and acted against me."

Regarding the charge of dependency on the American imperialist culture, she noted that during her tenure, she had ended the contract of American advisers in the Ministry and had not hired anyone to replace them. She also stressed that there were no relations between the Iranian Ministry of Education and the American Department of Education.

In the last session of her trial, Ms. Parsa defended herself against information contained in a SAVAK report, which was quoted by the prosecutor's representative in the 4th session of the trial and in a testimony by a plaintiff. The SAVAK agent had reported that Ms. Parsa had shown impatience regarding the hijab (Islamic dress code) in a gathering of directors of religious schools (See charges). She referred to the accusations against her concerning that meeting and said: "I did not oppose the hijab. I said that the hijab should not be an obstacle to women's participation in public life. In religious schools, for example, girls did not participate in athletic activities at all. Otherwise, in directives I sent out, I always invited women to dress properly and respect the hijab."

Ms. Parsa defended her record as a public figure. She explained why she had joined the Iran Novin Party: "[I] believed that we were in a state of transition from a dictatorship to freedom and since women were allowed to work and think and be effective in government, I told myself that I could have a constructive role." [Statement quoted by the representative of the Prosecution Office in the fifth session of the trial] She stated that as a Minister of Education, she had strived to hire the best educators, to constantly improve the school curricula, and make sure that students had access to technical and professional training while studying: "I am not saying there was no corruption in the past, but", she said, "I tried not to be involved and I did my best to keep away from corrupt practices."

Judgment

The Revolutionary Tribunal of the Center declared the defendant a "corruptor on earth". The Public Prosecutor's communiqué noted that Mrs. Parsa was convicted for "plundering the national treasury," "causing corruption and spreading prostitution" in the Ministry of Education, "collaborating with SAVAK" and "dismissing combatant educators from the Ministry of Education," "being involved in passing anti-people laws," and "making our education system reliant on imperialist culture." She was executed at dawn.

Correct/ Complete This Entry