This is true for the ten innocent Bahá’í women who were executed on 18th June 1983 in Iran.


Vivian Merchant :

It is great to give up oneself for one’s country, but far greater is the sacrifice of one’s life for one’s fellow human beings. This is true for the ten innocent Bahá’í women who were executed on 18th June 1983 in Iran. They were among the hundreds of individuals who were killed for being Bahá’ís but the story of these ten women has stood out throughout the years as they were all women and most of them were very young. Their ages were in the range of 17 to 57 years.

Freedom of expression is a divine gift to which every human being is entitled. With the advent of democracy this has become a fundamental right conferred upon every citizen of a country by their respective governments. The followers of the Bahá’í faith believe and practice what was stated by its prophet-founder Bahá’u’lláh: “In every country where any of this people reside, they must behave towards the government of that country with loyalty, honesty and truthfulness.” Indeed, it is a paradox that the promoters of justice, equality and truthfulness were subjected to harsh interrogations and torture, and subsequently execution.

Forty years have passed since the occurrence of this heart-wrenching and soul-stirring incident. Each one of these women has a unique story to tell. The life of each one of them stands out as an embodiment of love and sacrifice. Through a selfless act of loving submission and obedience, they have left a legacy in human history. If one were to have the chance of meeting with the living members of their families, each of them would have a distinct story to share.

As a teenager, I had the honor and privilege of meeting the mother of Mona Mahmoudnejad, the youngest of the ten women.  Part of a group of friends who had gathered together to listen to the narrative of the life her wonderful daughter who was arrested and martyred, we were deeply touched. An eloquent writer, Mona was noted for her academic excellence and good memory. She was committed to providing moral education to young children, both girls and boys from economically weaker families. While she was in prison, even in the face of severe trials and difficulties, she had deep love and affection for her fellow inmates.

In support of the global campaign titled#OurStoryIsOne, I wish to offer a humble tribute in honor of these ten brave women whose martyrdom is a testimony to the ideals of social justice and equality. It is a significant milestone in the unfolding story of the interplay between the forces of love, resilience and faith on the one hand, countering the dark forces of tyranny, oppression and ignorance on the other.


*The writer is an alumnus of JNU and is currently working as Executive Assistant at Chapters International