Montreal, June 18, 2023 - Forty years ago, at dawn, ten young women were hanged in Shiraz, Iran! This heinous act was carried out in the city's public square, each one hanged before the bewildered eyes of the others. The last to be executed was a 17-year-old girl, frequently reprimanded by her teachers at school for writing essays on the theme of freedom! These essays finally led her to the gallows!

That was on June 18, 1982.

Forty years later, the women of Iran rekindled the fire lit by Tahirih, a young poetess aged 35, also executed on August 16, 1852 in Tehran's Ilkhani Garden, 130 years earlier.

The voices of thousands of mothers and sisters are joining Tahirih's today

- The emancipation of women is only a matter of time!

The time has come!

Pain has become common agony! It's not just Bahá'ís who are suffering,

it's a country,

it's humanity, suffering and weeping collectively! 

Perhaps, at last, the Persian nation will be able to understand the agony of 180 years of persecution of a community whose sole aim is the establishment of universal peace!

When the revolutionary guards raided and searched Mona's home, in her small room, they found her school essays, a clear evidence to arrest her! Her mother asked them why they were arresting her, she's only a child!

One of them replied:

"Don't call her a child, when she grows up, she'll set the world on fire with her writings!"

During the interrogation, they discovered that Mona also helped children learn to read and write. These children had no access to school because of their beliefs!

The oldest of the ten women executed at dawn this June was 57.

She was hanged first.

Her 23-year-old daughter Roya was hanged at the same time,

Roya’s father had been executed two days earlier!

Of this family of four, only the youngest daughter, Roya's sister, was freed

- another torture technique used by their executioners!

In the space of 24 hours, 80 Bahá'ís were arrested in Shiraz. They were interrogated, tortured and locked up in windowless cells, unable to breathe properly.

Whenever the prisoners had the opportunity to receive visitors, their questions focused on the springtime air and the scent of Shiraz's orange blossoms - after all, they'd been used to that scent in their previous lives!

Many prisoners were executed or died under torture during that fateful week.

It is reported that a further 22 people were executed that week! The execution order was signed by a simple clergyman,

a so-called judge from Shiraz,

without the knowledge of government authorities,

nobody intervened and nobody prevented this odious act.

Human rights agencies and governments the world over have condemned this barbaric act!

The Iranian leader at the time pointed out that defending the rights of the Bahá'ís by certain governments is an irrefutable proof that they are spies for foreign agents!

This comment was part of the Friday sermon in a Tehran Mosque!

Three weeks after this speech, ten women were executed by hanging in a public square in Shiraz!

The time of the execution is unknown! Only a vague remark that it was at dawn on June 18.

At 11 a.m., relatives of the young victims rushed to the Forensic Medicine Department. The revolutionary guard on duty refused them permission to see their daughters' bodies for the last time, as it was time for midday prayer and he didn't want to miss it! At the mothers' request, he agreed to grant them a short visit. He led them to a small, barely air-conditioned room where the bodies of ten women were piled one on top of the other. Mona's mother found her daughter's body first!

Mona's face was covered by her long hair and a piece of black cloth covered her eyes.

Other mothers had trouble recognizing their chador-covered children! They kissed their faces one last time with tenderness and love, then were forced out of the room by the same revolutionary guard who feared being discovered by his superiors!

The eyes of the mothers watched a horrible tragedy, they saw a drama rarely seen in the history of human genocide!

Ten blindfolded bodies with the imprint of hanging rope around their necks, draped in their chadors!

Nothing remains of them, not even their graves!

Years later, a mother visited the presumed site of their burial.

A vendor who ran a kiosk nearby told her that, following the news of the women's execution, early in the morning a truck emptied a number of bodies wrapped in their chadors. They buried the bodies here, on this spot.

Later, we learned that the bodies had been moved elsewhere, and that their bones had perhaps been scattered by the wind - nobody knows!

Forty years on, the awareness of Iranian women today is a wake-up call,

an opening of the mind,

a fundamental understanding that 

thousands of years of dogma,

centuries-old persecutions,

decades-old injustices,

thousands of days old prejudices,

that half of humanity,

the mothers and sisters of man,

the educators of the children of the future,

now, assume responsibility

to achieve a goal which is the organic unity of humankind,

shoulder to shoulder with their brethren!

A world where injustice will have no place and

where no one can dominate the others!

Nevertheless, the question remains:

why human beings commit such crimes?

Perhaps the next generation will understand that

human life has another purpose

than to be sacrificed for dogmatic ideologies!


Photo: Roya Eshraghi, 23, was executed along with her mother, Ezzat-Janami Eshraghi, 57. Her father was executed on 16 June 1983.

Reference: Fragments of interviews with the victims’ family members scattered around the world!

Bahá’í World News Service



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