Human Rights, Not One More Execution

Reading the Islamic Republic: Sakineh, Shahla, and the Killing Ground of Vakil-Abad Prison

Shahla Jahed is to be executed! The Islamic Republic has shamelessly announced that her appeal, and her lawyer’s struggle to prove to the Islamic court that she never couldhave committed the crime that she is unjustly accused of, was rejected.

For those who do not know Shahla, she is a woman who has been convicted of murder in a high-profile case and sentenced to death by hanging, despite the fact that she has clearly and publicly said in court that she confessed to the murder only under rape and torture.

At the same time, Hasan Qashqavi, the deputy foreign minister of Islamic Republic, has announced that in the past year, they have executed 500 people in Vakil-Abad prison in Mashhad alone. He has declared that they are willing to kill 100,000 if need be in order to maintain their reign of terror.

The reason the Islamic Republic has advertised its plans to execute Shahla Jahed, the reason it has publicly proclaimed having turned Vakil-Abad into a killing ground, and has, despite ever-growing international awareness and outrage, announced that it is willing to continue the slaughter, can be simply explained by the impact of recent events, specifically, the world’s refusal to allow the regime to execute Sakineh Ashtiani in silence.

In order to survive, the Islamic Republic must uphold its reputation as an unremitting executioner. It has a fundamental need to kill, both in great numbers, and also in the most grotesque ways imaginable: by lowering people into holes in the ground and throwing stones at them until they die; or by publicly hanging people, leaving the bodies suspended from cranes in squares, parking lots or wherever most visible by the largest possible number of citizens, creating an atmosphere of terror and a general sense of fear in order to suppress dissidence and thereby maintain power in Iran.

But the pressure that has been brought to bear on the Islamic Republic in the name of Sakineh Ashtiani has disarmed the regime of one of its most potent weapons: the threat of a stoning execution. No matter how it has twisted and turned, regardless of the lies it has told about Sakineh’s case, the Islamic Republic remains pinned by international and domestic opprobrium for its embrace of the practice of stoning. It has found no refuge from the global condemnation of its vicious abuses of Sakineh Ashtiani, her family, and her lawyers. The Islamic regime has been defeated twice by an international campaign to save Sakineh both from stoning and from execution. This is a devastating blow by ordinary people, women of Tbilisi, Kiev, Yerevan, women and men from all over the world.

The Islamic Republic cannot now stone anyone to death in Iran. The Islamic Republic has been prevented until now from executing Sakineh Ashtiani, and is under direct threat of diplomatic sanctions by the Western governments if they “touch a hair on Sakineh’s head.” Humanity has put the Islamic Republic in a defensive position by disarming the regime of its ability to stone people to death, and by forcing its hand back from executing Sakineh Ashtiani. This puts the regime in an untenable position, given that it remains dependent on its ability to kill at will.

By promulgating the impending execution of Shahla Jahed, whose well-known case is similar enough to serve as a substitute for Sakineh Ashtiani, by shamelessly bragging about hundreds of executions in Vakil-Abad, the Islamic Republic is desperately trying to take back what humanity has taken away from it: absolute freedom to kill! The very existence of the Islamic Republic is dependent upon reclaiming what we have won, and the Islamic Republic fears for its existence under mounting international pressure that is quickly becoming unbearable.

This is not the nuclear issue, or any other concern that is supposed to be solved at one point or another behind the closed doors or in the lobbies of International Politics by giving something and taking something. This inexorable pressure on the Islamic regime is generated by millions of women and men motivated not by “politics” or “national interests” but by humanity. The force behind this mounting pressure can not be bought and sold or even negotiated with. These millions in an ever-growing united front for humanity have already choreographed the most unusual political reactions of the governments of the world, from Sarkozy of France to Clinton of the USA, to an otherwise very regime-friendly Brazil.

This force has one promise, and the criminal gang of murderers in Iran have felt what is coming their way. The pressure will amass, and political isolation will delegitimize the Islamic regime, opening up new fields of political struggle against its barbarity. The Islamic Republic has understood that sooner rather than later, it will be forced to confront this new player on the scene of International Politics in each and every case of implementation of executions, Ghesas, Hadd, and the entire inhumane Shari’a law.

To us, the international grassroots activists who stand against the barbarity of the Islamic regime, Shahla is only another Sakineh. They are substituting Shahla for Sakineh in the gallows, and by killing Shahla they believe, in their minds, that they will have killed or wounded the sprit of the victorious campaign for Sakineh. And we should not accept this.

A word to the family of the victim in Shahla’s case: Ghesas is as savage and barbaric as the Islamic regime in its entirety. Ghesas, like the rest of Islamic laws, has no place in a civilised society. Demanding blood by the blood owner, irrespective of the crime, is not only inhuman, but plays in the hands of the Islamic regime and their crimes against not only against 70 million Iranians, but against all of humanity.

Mission Free Iran
November 11, 2010

Note: Shirin Ebadi and colleagues were quick in Shahla’s case, as in Sakineh’s, to declare once again that Shahla’s case is a regime-manufactured distraction from the “real” victims of the regime’s repression, political activists. To Ebadi and other political rhinos, we say that Shahla is no less a political prisoner than any other, and killing 500 human beings only in Vakil-Abad is no less a political issue than the mass murders of the 80s, which were, by the way, committed by those to whom Ebadi has sworn allegiance.


One thought on “Reading the Islamic Republic: Sakineh, Shahla, and the Killing Ground of Vakil-Abad Prison

  1. Thank you for commenting on the case of Shahla Jahed, especially in relation to Sakineh Ashtiani’s case. By declaring the former’s case as non-political, Shirin Ebadi and others unfortunately assist the killing machine of a regime, which keeps its citizens as hostages. There are no divisions in humanity, each single life is important.

    Posted by Arshama | November 11, 2010, 2:41 pm

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