Elaheh Orouji, 25, was born to a prosperous family. She was a student of architectural engineering in Tehran’s Melli University.
Before the 1979 revolution that toppled the Shah, she had become familiar with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI) through her husband, Bahman Javadi-Asl. Through the PMOI, Elaheh learned about the suffering of her fellow Iranians.
Elaheh Orouji had all the comforts of luxury, but as a revolutionary woman, she chose to live a simple and undecorated life and refused to have more than others. This characteristic attracted other students to her and the PMOI.
Elaheh was chosen to head the Muslim Students Society in Melli University after a period of political activity with the PMOI. Many who had seen her at that time described her as energetic, compassionate, and inspiring to those around her.
In 1980, Khomeini shut down universities under the pretext of a Cultural Revolution. Elaheh endeavored tirelessly to prevent closure of the girls’ dormitory in Tehran. After a few months, she succeeded in preserving the dormitory for female students. The dormitories were used by PMOI student activists for educational classes, meetings, and other political activities.
A student from the Melli University wrote: “Elaheh was in charge of our association. We would get up early and exercise, then have breakfast together, then start our classes.”
“We didn’t have many facilities in the dormitory. We didn’t have enough beds, and Elaheh would sleep on the floor so others would be comfortable,” the student continued.
“She was frail, but she was the first to sacrifice her comfort for others. Her bravery, vitality, and speed in tasks we had was so much that the students called her a ‘gazelle’.”
Elaheh was arrested in 1981 with her husband. She was well-known to the regime’s agents and was being followed.
Despite being pregnant, she was taken directly to the Evin Prison’s Ward 209 under torture. On February 8, 1982, her name was falsely announced among those killed in the attack on the residence of Ashraf Rajavi and Moussa Khiabani. She endured severe torture for about 7 months.
One of her fellow inmates wrote: “I saw her in those days and hugged her. I was amazed that she was concerned more about other arrested students instead of her own pain and pressures. Elaheh would say that she should inform others about PMOI’s positions, so they know how to deal with the challenges in prison.”
Elaheh was serious and diligent in her work. She would say: “You should always be meticulous in all you do. This is necessary in this struggle. We should use the least energy for the most outcome.”
Elaheh was hanged in her prison cell in 1984. The regime’s agents hung her by her own chador and told her family that she had hanged herself. Elaheh had already given birth to her child during a short prison leave, but the regime’s agents did not allow her to see her baby son, Mehdi.