Stop Anti-Sharia and Inhumane Execution Sentences!
In their second letter to Sadegh Larijani, Head of the Iranian Judiciary, the Defenders of Human Rights Center has objected strongly to the issuance and execution of death sentences, especially in the cases of those arrested during post-elections protests. The group has demanded emphatically that the Head of the Judiciary stop the executions and prevent death sentence verdicts for post-elections protesters. The Center asked the Head of the Judiciary to examine the disproportionate charges and sentences of the suspects, and to respond regarding whether the Judiciary’s conduct is politically motivated.
The letter, which was published on 9 March 2010, has the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi’s signature under it. In the aftermath of the Iranian elections, more than 13 execution sentences were issued for protesters, two of which have been carried out so far. The Defenders of Human Rights Center is comprised of distinguished Iranian human rights attorneys who have been under severe pressure from Iranian intelligence and judicial organization, some of whom have been informally barred from accepting the cases of political prisoners. The Defenders of Human Rights Center states its reason for publishing this letter is the emergence of news about the surge of death sentences, as in the case of Mohammad Amin Valian, the young student who is accused of throwing rocks during Ashura Day protests.
Part of the letter states: “You are aware that Iran is one of the countries in which, unfortunately, death sentences are still issued and carried out, and over the recent years, this has placed Iran in the second position on a list of countries with the death penalty, and in first place in executing children under the age of 18. During the events of the past eight months, also, we have witnessed repeated and severe violations of human rights on a large scale. This has brought harm to many Iranian families, much of which is irreparable.”
The letter continues with describing the ways in which such sentences are issued: “One of the things which will never be compensated for is the loss of tens of our innocent fellow countrymen, some of whom died on the streets and some in illegal detention centers under inhumane conditions, and some through execution sentences. Some of those who lost their lives were not even among the post-elections protesters, but killed by bullets or beaten to death with unimaginable brutality on the streets. Of course many of them were peaceful protesters who received bullets, batons, torture, and death in response to their peaceful protests.”
The authors of the letter expressed surprise at “murderers of the Iranian youth, who created tragedies in Kahrizak and Tehran University dormitories, living in peace and complete safety.” They have also objected to the “mohareb” charge and the subsequent maximum penalty, i.e. execution, for young people who participated in the peaceful protests,who were confronted with excessively violent actions of officers and plainclothes agents who enjoy immunity, and who in order to defend themselves, or through an excited state of youth, picked up rocks.”
Addressing the Head of Iranian Judiciary, Shirin Ebadi asked: “The question is whether based on Sharia, wisdom, logic, and legal grounds there is a reasonable relationship between these irrevocable and irreparable sentences and the peaceful behavior of the protesters? Doesn’t issuing such sentences intensify the perception of political conduct within the Judiciary? I am sure as a knowledgeable source about Islamic rules, and like any other God worshiping, truth seeking individual, you cannot justify and defend such rulings the way those who are issuing these sentences do, and in your position as Head of the Judiciary, which is responsible for safeguarding and implementing justice, you cannot remain silent.”
The letter continues: “You are well aware that these sentences have no justification according to Iranian laws either, and they are certainly regarded as inhumane, anti-Sharia, and anti-humanity. Even if such behavior from certain parties is driven by Iran’s political circumstances and aimed to create fear and intimidation in the society, it is still the wrong thing to do, as issuing and implementing execution orders deeply hurts the conscience of the society, leading to public dissatisfaction and suspicion of the regime, and heightening social objections which will benefit no one. Considering the country’s sensitive and dangerous circumstances both internally and internationally and in the region, the Defenders of Human Rights Center strongly objects to execution orders and the hurried implementation of these unfair sentences. The Center emphatically and insistently requests your prevention of heavy sentences such as execution, and that a remedy be devised for the orders already issued. We ask that the Judiciary’s trend of release of political prisoners, which is a good and necessary action for the Iranian society, continues, offering Iranian families joy and hope on the threshold of Nowruz.”