Mahnaz Parakand graduated with a degree in law from Tehran University. While still a student, she was arrested for participating in the 1981 demonstrations in Iran that saw thousands of opponents of the new Revolutionary regime rounded up and executed. She was sentenced to death in 1981, but the sentence was reduced to life imprisonment, of which she served five years and was barred from finishing her degree for a further two years. She was denied a license to practice law until 2002. Once she was able to obtain it, Parakand began defending political prisoners and joined the Defender of Human Rights Center, a law firm that defends and advocates for the rights of political prisoners in Iran. She defended prominent human rights lawyers Shirin Ebadi, Nasrin Sotoudeh and Abdolfattah Soltani; as well as the seven Bahá'í leaders known as the Yárán, and numerous other human rights and political activists. In 2011, she was summoned to Evin prison in Iran, and after facing the threat of execution again, she left Iran for Norway where she now works as an activist with an interest in human rights and women's rights in Iran.