Save Nazanin


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Nazanin Fatehi's nightmares

Nazanin's attorney objects to payment of blood money

Delara Darabi in risk of imminent execution

Stop child executions in Iran

Happy Persian new year Nazanin

Amnesty issues appeal for Delara Darabi

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This website was created to spread information about the 19-year old Iranian girl Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, who was previously sentenced to death by hanging for killing a man who ambushed and tried to rape her. At the end of May, the Iranian head of Judiciary overturned her death sentence, and sent the case back to a lower court. Nazanin's re-trial ended on Jan 10 2007.

In this new trial, Nazanin was exonerated on the charge of murder, but sentenced to pay blood money. Nazanin's lawyers appealed this sentence, but paid bail (collected by donations) so Nazanin could be released from prison. Nazanin was released from prison and reunited with her family Wednesday January 31.


On January 3, 2006, Nazanin was sentenced to death for murder by a criminal court, for killing one of three men who tried to rape her and her niece.

According to the Iranian daily Etemaad, then 17-year-old Nazanin and her niece Samieh had been spending some time in a park west of Tehran with their boyfriends, when three men started harassing them. The girls` boyfriends fled from the scene, leaving them helpless behind. The men pushed Nazanin and her niece down on the ground and tried to rape them, and to protect herself, she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand. The girls tried to escape, but the men overtook them, and at this point, Nazanin stabbed one of the other men in the chest, which eventually killed him.

According to the newspaper, she broke down in tears when she told the court: "I wanted to defend myself and my niece. I did not want to kill that boy. At the heat of the moment I did not know what to do because no one came to our help." Nevertheless, the court sentenced her to death by hanging.

In May, the case was sent to the Supreme Court for consideration. When Nazanin learned that her file has been sent to Tehran, she made a phone-call to her family and asked them to visit her in prison. She said that by the end of the week the Supreme Court would decide her fate. Nazanin’s father left the next morning to visit her in prison. She would not let her father go. She cried and said “I’m scared Dad, don’t leave me here”.

The verdict was given at the end of May 2006. The death sentence was overturned after direction from the head of Judiciary, Ayatollah Shahroudi. It was decided that the case would be sent back to a lower court for a new ruling. After the ruling Nazanin was held in solitary confinement for a couple of weeks, and denied visits from her family.

Nazanin's re-trial started August 30, 2006. She was represented by a lawyer specialized in these kinds of cases, and she did a very good job of defending herself. The trial only lasted for one day, and was then postponed until January 10, 2006. This trial has now finished, and although the written verdict has not been presented, Nazanin's defense attorneys have received verbal confirmation from the court that she will be exonerated from the charge of murder, and that the killing has been recognized as self-defense. However, they think that she used excessive force when defending herself and her niece, and have therefore asked Nazanin to pay blood money in order to receive a pardon from the family of the deceased and then be released from prison.

Nazanin's attorneys are appealing the sentence of blood money, but this appeal may take several months. In the mean time, her lawyers have paid bail, collected by donations from all over the world, so Nazanin could be released from prison.

Nazanin was released and reunited with her family January 31 2007.

In a western country Nazanin would probably be acquitted or at most receive a short prison sentence after the first trial, as she obviously acted in self-defense. Furthermore, since she was only 17 years old, she would be treated as a minor. In Iran however, the minimum age for the death penalty is 15 years for males, and 9, yes nine years for females (Iranian civil code, Article 1210). Although there is no record of girls that young being executed, the fact that the law opens for this speaks clearly about what kind of regime Iran is.

Another point worth noticing is that if Nazanin had let the men rape her, she could in the worst case have been arrested for extra-martial sex, which carries a maximum penalty of 100 lashes.

Initially, Nazanin’s case did not get much attention from the media, as is usual with death sentences in Iran. Thanks to Nazanin Afshin-Jam, who created the petition to save Nazanin’s life and told about her in interviews, the media started to pick up, but it was not until the case came up for review by the Supreme Court that it finally got the attention it deserved in the media. In this period, the case also got substantial attention at blogs and private home pages, and a lot of people wrote the Iranian government and protested Nazanin’s death sentence. This was probably a significant reason for why the Ayatollah Shahroudi chose to overturn the death sentence.

Sources, news articles and links about Nazanin

What you can do

Donations are still accepted to help balance the cost of the campaign and to help Nazanin Fatehi’s family. Other than that Nazanin does not really need our help anymore as she is free and with her family.

But there are still more than 70 Iranian youths awaiting execution for crimes committed before they turned 18 years. Iran is a signatory to international covenants which forbids execution for an offense committed when the offender was under the age of 18, but that does not stop them. You can help these youths the same ways you helped Nazanin:

  • Help spreading the story about about these condemned prisoners! Tell everyone you know, family, friends and others who might be interested. Show them this web page and ask them to take action for these youths.
  • Contact newspapers, TV-channels, blogs and other media and ask them to report these stories from Iran. US residents can contact local or national media via
  • Write about the Iranian use of death penalty in your own blog, homepage, or in internet forums or chat rooms you frequent.
  • Write the Iranian government or the Iranian embassy of your country , and ask that the lives of these youths will be spared. Read more
  • Contact politicians/representatives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in your country or your embassy in Tehran and ask them to pressure Iran. US representatives can be contacted via
  • Go to to learn more about execution of minors in Iran and how you can help to prevent it.

Personal information about Nazanin

Nazanin is 19 years old and have five siblings. Her family is very poor, and live in a semi-ruined house, where 6 of them sleep in the same room. The father has serious health issues that have prevented him from working in the past 7 years. He has been in and out of the hospital and has undergone 4 major operations on his liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. His health is a serious problem for the already poor family.

Nazanin's mother used to clean houses and wash rugs and clothes to support her family. However, in the past year, she has been unable to work because her hands are ruined from the chemicals she has used over the years. She has also developed other severe health problems that prevent her from returning to work.

The family are Kurdish, from the area of Sanandaj but they live in Karaj (a suburb of Tehran). Nazanin needed to stay home and take care of the household and as a result she could not attend school and her education is equivalent to 2.grade.

The family could not afford a lawyer for Nazanin, and as a result she had a state appointed lawyer during her trial. However, thanks to Nazanin Afshin-Jam and the International Committee against Execution, Nazanin had a private lawyer with experience from similar cases in her re-trial.


Nazanin Afshin-Jam's homepage (entry May 16)
Audio interview with Nazanin's mother

Information about Iran's execution method

Nazanin was previously sentenced to death by hanging, which is the usual method of execution in Iran.

Most of the countries which in the last century have executed prisoners by hanging, used the long drop method, which, if applied correctly, break the neck of the condemned and result in instant loss of consciousness.

Iran, on the other hand, use the suspension method, where the condemned is hoisted up via a winch turned by two executioners or guards, or made to stand on a simple crate which will be kicked from under him/her. Unlike the drop method, the prisoner suffers for several minutes before he/she die from asphyxiation.
The only reason for using suspension instead of long drop is to prolong the suffering of the condemned.
If the execution is public, the condemned prisoner is often hoisted into the air by a telescopic crane. Sometimes the body is left hanging for several hours.

Death penalty in Iran

Iran has one of the highest numbers of executions in the world. In 2004, Iran executed at least 159 people, which placed them second only to China.

Amnesty International recorded 69 executions between July 2005 and the end of January 2006. According to Iranian media, there were 10 executions, and 21 new death sentences were given out, between Jan. 20 and Feb. 20, 2006. According to, Iran executed at least 181 people in 2006.
There is no reason to believe that the number of executions will fall in the near future.

The usual method of execution is hanging, but Iranian law also opens for stoning as punishment for adultery and incest. In 2002 the head of the judiciary announced a moratorium on stoning. Iranian judges have later imposed sentences of stoning, but these are usually overturned higher up in the court system. However, Amnesty International has reported that in May 2006, a man and a woman was executed by stoning in a cemetery in Mashhad, by members of the Revolutionary Guard and Bassij Forces.

Since 1990, Iran is one of eight countries that are known to have executed prisoners who were under 18 years when the crime was committed. Over the last 17 years, Iran has executed at least 22 child offenders, eight of them in 2005, and four in 2006. (Full list here).

This is in direct violation of Iran's obligations as a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
By signing them, Iran has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offense committed when they were under the age of 18. These treaties also prohibit the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishments.

The list of crimes that can lead to death penalty is long. Capital offenses in Iran include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, repeated sodomy, adultery or prostitution, treason and espionage.


Some recent notable death sentences in Iran

Delara Darabi

Delara Darabi is twenty years old and risks execution for a murder committed when she was seventeen.
According to the Iranian newspaper Aftab, she broke into a house together with a male friend named Amir Hossein, with the intention of robbing the woman who lived there. The woman was murdered during the robbery. Initially, Delara confessed to the murder, but later she withdrew her confession, and claimed Hossein was the killer. She told that she had confessed to save him from execution, because he believed her low age would save her from a death sentence.

However, as we have seen with Nazanin, being a minor won’t protect you in Iran, and Delara was sentenced to death by hanging in a court in the city of Rasht. Amir Hossein was reportedly sentenced to ten years of prison.

Delara is a talented artist and has used paintings as a form of therapy in prison, and also to get out word of her sentence. Last year there was an exhibition of her paintings in Tehran. You can see some of them here.

Her death sentence have now been confirmed twice by the Supreme Court and her execution may be imminent.

A website dedicated to save Delara has been made at

Please go there to learn more about her case and how you can help her.
A petition has also been made.

More information:

Ateqeh Rajabi

Ateqeh Rajabi (sometimes reported as Atefeh) was a sixteen year-old Iranian girl who was executed in Iran after being sentenced to death by an Iranian judge, Haji Rezaii, for allegedly having committed "acts incompatible with chastity" (having sexual intercourse with an older man), and for removing her hijab while arguing with her judge in court.
Ateqeh reportedly had no access to legal counsel during the trial and was allegedly not believed to be mentally competent. Her death sentence was upheld by a Supreme Court of conservative mullahs.

Haji Rezaii, the religious judge, was reportedly so incensed with Ateqeh’s "sharp tongue" during the trial that he traveled to Tehran to convince the mullahs of the Supreme Court to uphold the death sentence. She was publicly hanged in Neka, Iran, in August 2004, by the judge himself. Her body was left hanging for some time so people could see what happened to teenagers who committed acts incompatible with chastity. Amnesty International, as well as human rights organizations from the international community at large, declared the execution to be a crime against humanity and against children of the world.

Ateqeh`s body was allegedly removed from the grave soon after the burial by unknown perpetrators.

Update July 29:

BBC2 showed a documentary about the execution of Ateqeh, called "Execution of a teenage girl." It can be viewed here. The Guardian has published an article about the making of the documentary, written by the director.


Leyla Mafi

Leyla Mafi is an Iranian woman who was sentenced to 99 lashes and death by hanging when she was 19 years old.

Leyla Mafi was forced into prostitution by her mother when she was eight years. She got pregnant and received her first child when she was nine. For this she was sentenced to and received 100 lashes for prostitution. She gave birth to twins at 14, for which she was whipped again.

In May 2004 she was arrested and accused of "indecent acts", running a brothel, incest and having a child outside of marriage. Amnesty International reported her mental skills to be at the level of an 8-year old, but this was disputed by judicial officials. She was convicted and sentenced to 99 lashes and death by hanging.

The Iranian Supreme Court lifted the death sentence at March 27, 2005, but upheld the sentence of 99 lashes. The case was then sent back to the court of Arak for a new ruling.

In October 2005 the court acquitted Leyla of incest and for running a brothel, because she had given "conflicting confessions." She received a new sentence of 99 lashes for "indecent acts with a close relative" (not intercourse). She was also sentenced to 3 1/2 years of prison for "being available for sex."

Leyla Mafi was whipped in February 2006. Soon afterwards she was transferred to a women’s institution, where she must stay for eight months. Her lawyer said that Leyla was glad to be alive, despite the terrible ordeal she had to endure, and thanked everyone who worked to save her.

In January the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported that Leyla has been given help by Iranian human right activists, paid for by private funds. She lives in a secret apartment in Tehran, protected from her family, and is getting education at the private Omide Mehr center. The Iranian journalist Asieh Amini tells that Leyla is getting back to life, and learns how to read, write and cook. And most important, the apathy is gone, and she is is receiving psychiatric assistance to treat the emotional scarring she has been left with after her traumatic ordeal. Leyla will continue to receive help as long as there is funding available.

The Iranian human rights activist Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, who followed the case closely, do not believe the death sentence would have been lifted if not for international pressure.

Note: I originally wrote that Leyla Mafi was sentenced to death by stoning, but this was wrong. She was sentenced to death by hanging, as the article now says.