September 06, 2007

Letter of application to parties leaders inside Iran for reacting against waves of executions in Iran

The following letter has been written to prominent political parties and organizations in Iran after their general indifference towards the recent wave of executions in Iran. It has also been sent to several prominent religious leaders as well.The text of this letter has been published in English and Persian in many sites and newspapers

To: Seyed Mohammad Khatami,
Head of the Association of Combatant Clerics

Mehdi Karrubi
Secretary General of the National Confidence Party

Mohsen Mirdamadi
Secretary General of Islamic Iran’s Participation Party

Mohammad Salamati
Secretary General of Islamic Iran’s Mojahedin Organization

Gholamhossein Karbaschi
Secretary General of Servants of Construction Party

Ibrahim Yazdi
Secretary General of Iran’s Freedom Movement

Habibollah Peyman
Secretary General of the Movement of Combatant Muslims

Azam Taleghani
Secretary General of the Society for the Women of Islamic Revolution

Fatemeh Karrubi
Secretary General of the Association of Islamic Women

In the Name of God of Life and Wisdom

Esteemed Brother/Sister,

With greetings and best wishes for the health and happiness of you and your colleagues, I apologize in advance for my impudence. In the past days and weeks we have been witness to atrocities in the area of human rights. Unfortunately all reformist parties and activities have silent about the recent tragic events. The mentioned atrocities are the successive executions that in the past month have included 41 people in addition to a few that have been saved during the moment of sentence implementation. The number of executions has increased by 100 percent, in comparison to a similar span of time last year.

In fact, the figure of 170 people executed in the span of 7 months (which is based on the number of published executions) is truly astounding, particularly if we take into account the fact that 130 out of 198 countries in the world have totally banned capital punishment and 90 percent of today’s executions in the world occur only in the four countries of Iran, China, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Among these countries only Iran has shown a 100 percent increase in the past year while in the other three there has been a 25-30 percent decrease.

Isn’t this a human calamity? Hasn’t the global impact of these executions left a dark spot on the image if Iran and Islam? While people are imprisoned on charges of propagating against the order for merely expressing their viewpoints, doesn’t the news of these executions act as the biggest propaganda against the Iranian system? And while on an everyday basis crimes are committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t these consecutive executions in Iran deflect attention from those crimes and instead draw focus on our country?

130 countries no longer allow capital punishment and in others executions barely occur. For instance, in Afghanistan despite the phenomenon of terrorism and insecurity only three executions were carried out in the past year, even if more were issued. This is while we live in Iran, a country in which its religious leaders have repeatedly insisted on the priority of giving due respect to life and use of discretion over all religious commands and even requirements. The increase in the number of human executions occurs at a time when the Qur’an has accepted the punishment of qisas (retribution) only in case of premeditated murder and even then it has commanded the next to kin (and hence the government) not to rely on excessiveness: “Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive), but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (al-Isra, 33).

The recent executions, many of which involved individuals who had not committed premeditated murder and based on the comments of officials in charge were solely implemented to instill fear, are prime examples of the use of excessiveness. These sentences were issued and implemented in a hurry while hundreds of others who have committed similar crimes have been going through their appeal process for months and years in order to guarantee all the necessary precautions.

The bigger tragedy is the silence of the elite, political parties, and civil institutions on the one hand, and on the other the acquiescence of public opinion in the face of the propaganda and one-sided claims of the government-controlled media that do not allow anyone to scientifically debate these issues with those in charge. This silence causes the depth of this human and judicial tragedy to remain hidden.

Based on detailed knowledge of the content of a number of the files, and in light of the verdict rendered by judicial authorities, many of these individuals, according to existing laws, should not have been executed. Setting aside my personal views against capital punishment, and assuming complete agreement with the current laws and regulations, the executions of these individuals without due legal process are not legal and in fact must be considered criminal.

It can be shown through supportive documentation that a large number of those executed either had no lawyers defending them or were executed without an opportunity for appeal. In addition, there were doubts regarding many of the cases. In some cases, the crime committed did not justify or by law carry a death sentence as punishment; in other cases, other people who had committed similar crimes or even worse were not executed and received lighter sentences. There are clear examples through which it can be shown that even the written verdict lacked legal or religious validation. Lack of freedom of expression and prevention of legal criticism of the issued judgment and verdict in the press has created a situation in which the lives of human beings are easily dispensed with.

There is no doubt that the activities of criminals that threaten the security of citizens must be denounced on the basis of any human rights and ethical standards. Those committing crimes are undoubtedly deserving of punishment but not necessarily capital punishment. In addition, along with the punishment of deserving individuals, real and fundamental solutions must be sought. In all these executions, one basic principle should not be neglected that the rights of many of the criminals and thugs, in truth, have essentially been forfeited because of bad management and policies at the macro level. As such these executions are intended to deflect attention from the sources of societal problems.

In a society in which a large part of the national wealth and income is spent on military consumption, unproductive ceremonial and propagandistic gatherings, foreign aid to specific countries and so on, problems such as poverty, unemployment, the youth’s inability to marry, closure of all the means to satisfy legitimate needs and desires, lack of confidence in and feeling rejected by the current regime… are among the factors and backdrops for committing a crime. Why do we punish the effect instead of the cause?

According to informed sources, many of the judges and judicial authorities are also against the spread of capital punishment (not the principle of capital punishment). However there is an extra-legal resolve and a security outlook that is behind this spread.

Your political party or organization has rightly taken a stance against the arrest of students and has also rightly made space for extensive debate and dialogue about the upcoming parliamentary elections. But, believe me, the value and importance of human life and the issue of executions is not less important that student arrests and elections. From the ideological and human point of view, respect for the reputation and blood of human beings is to the extent that it takes precedence over all religious commands and even requirements.. From the national and patriotic point of view, the terrible increase in the number of executions is destroying and pillaging the reputation of out country. Shouldn’t this issue, at least to the extent of an expression of sorrow or a simple position, have a place in your party or organization’s plans?

Today, developed political parties in the world are not merely active in politics while remaining indifferent to human rights violations. It is not acceptable that on such important issues other governments and countries are the first to show sensitivity and take a stance while again we take silence as our route. My plea is for you to place this vital issue on your agenda.

I thank you infinitely for your attention to this matter.

Emadeddin Baghi

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