On Sunday, 19 October 2014, activists from Washington DC gathered outside the offices of the Islamic regime in Iran to commemorate the World Day against the Death Penalty, and to demand an end to execution in Iran and around the world.
Below is the statement prepared for the occasion by Mission Free Iran:
We are here today outside the offices of the Islamic regime in Iran to mark the occasion of the World Day against the Death Penalty. We are here to condemn the regime in Iran, and all other governments that wield the death penalty against their citizens, for the use of execution as a tool of terror.
In the specific case of Iran, we would like to point out that while Western governments and the international media work to focus the world’s attention on the Rouhani’s charm offensive on the nuclear front, or consider the potential to cooperate somehow with the regime in Iran against the Islamic State terrorists that are devastating peoples’ lives throughout Syria and Iraq, those same governments and media outlets continue to studiously ignore the fact that the regime in Iran has rapidly escalated the rate of executions of Iranian people, many of whom are political prisoners.
In service of their own interests, governments and the international media have chosen to ignore these murderous crimes of the regime. However, activists around the world refuse to remain silent. Around the world, we are raising our voices to condemn the ongoing executions in Iran.
Since Rouhani came to power in Iran on August 4, 2013, nearly 1,000 people have been executed in Iran. This means that Iran continues to hold to dubious distinction of executing more people per capita than any other country in the world.
In the past year alone, we have lost many of our beloved, including political prisoners Habib Golparipour and Shirko Moarefi. The Kurdish prisoner Habibollah Golparipour was sentenced to death in a five-minute trial in March 2010 based on the books he was carrying when he was arrested. Shirko Moaarefi was executed after years spent in prison under torture on the basis of an accusation about his political ideology. Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani is another political prisoner who was convicted of cooperation with a political group and executed on June 1, 2014.
In 2014, we also lost two teachers, Hadi Rashidi and Hashem Shabani. They belonged to a group that promotes Arabic education, literature, and culture among Ahwazi Arab youth. For this, they were accused of waging war against god, and these two young teachers were executed. Prior to his death, Shabani said that his writing sought to “[defend] the right to live freely with full civil rights. With all these miseries and tragedies, I have never used a weapon to fight these atrocious crimes except the pen.”
Under sharia law, the punishment for apostasy – a medieval concept that means you disagree with prevailing religious ideology – is death. At least 33 Sunni Muslim prisoners are on the death row and several of them in danger of execution because they believe in a different brand of Islam than the Shi’ite regime. A recent example of execution on charges of apostasy is that of Mohsen Amir Aslani, who was executed just a few weeks ago on 24 September 2014. He was convicted of corruption on earth, insulting Prophet Yonah and heresy: he said he did not believe the story that Jonas had been swallowed by a whale.
In the year 2014, the barbaric regime in Iran still executes people for being gay. According to the Iranian state media, on 26 August 2014, two men identified as “Abdollah Gh. Ch.” and “Soleiman Gh. Ch.” were hanged publicly in Shiraz. According to the official website of the Iranian Judiciary in Fars Province, their offenses were “sodomy.”
We have lost these, and many others in the past year, just as this regime has taken the lives of countless thousands of Iranian people since it countered their 1979 revolution for freedom and equality.
And there remain many on death row. We would like to point out just two cases:
Reyhaneh Jabbari is a young woman who defended herself against a would-be rapist. Through defending herself, she injured her attacker and he subsequently died. Now she is to be executed because she defended herself. Reyhaneh’s execution has been scheduled for implementation several times, but each time it has been stopped by the protests of people in Iran and around the world. Most recently she was sent for execution on 30 September 2014; the regime could not kill her then, again returning her to her prison cell, but they can execute her at any time.
Sayed Hossein Kazemeini Boroujerdi is an Iranian clergyman who has spoken out against political Islam and been strong advocate of the separation of religion and state. For this, he was sentenced to an 11-year prison sentence. As a result of his imprisonment, at the age of 56 he now suffers from a number of illnesses, including diabetes, asthma, Parkinson’s disease, kidney and heart problems and severe pain in his legs and waist. He has also gone partly blind in one of his eyes, and he collapses frequently. In an effort to passively execute him, the regime has refused to provide him with the medical treatment he requires – a common tactic used against political prisoners. And on 1 October 2014, he was transferred from his usual prison cell to an unknown location, with the promise that he would be executed soon.
These are only two among many others at imminent risk of execution, including Zeinab Jalalian, Zanyar and Loghman Moradi, Habib Latifi, Mohsen and Ahmad Daneshpour, Habib and Ali Afshari, and many, many more.
Everybody knows that the Islamic Regime’s survival depends on executions. This is not news. The fact that the reformists – the sponsored government, Rohani’s government – have increased the number of executions, is proof of this.
What is new is the anti-execution movement in Iran, which involves thousands of people and organizations. It is new that a filmmaker pays the blood money and saves the life of a young boy by announcing that the sales of the film will be used to stop the execution. It is new that Iran’s artists and filmmakers and poets stand with Reyhaneh and demand her freedom. It is new that at the gallows in public squares, people protest against execution, and aggrieved families choose to release the convicted from the noose.
These are new developments, and news of them makes our hearts warm and our souls proud. Without execution, the Islamic Republic will cease to exist. We are certain of this, and we hope for it.
And so we’re here to share with you the story of what is happening in Iran today, and ask for your support in demanding human rights for Iranian people, and in raising your voice for all people suffering from lack of human rights around the world.
Because the fact of the matter is, whether you stand up and raise your voice against the de facto execution of black boys in the streets of America, or if you stand up and raise your voice against executions in the prisons and public squares of Iran, we’re all the same struggle together, the same fight for freedom, equality and humanity.
And so together we demand the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners in Iran.
We demand an immediate end to all executions in Iran and worldwide.
Long live revolution.
Down with the Islamic Republic of Iran.