Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Number 2 (With a Bullet)

Bloggers are creatures of habit, and what with travelling and readjusting to life back in Rabat, I am just now playing catch-up with many of my regular cyber-haunts. I confess that it was with not a little reluctance that I clicked onto a human rights site from Iran (a tautology of sorts) because it had been a number of days since I had taken a peek and a number of days (to my knowledge) since anyone had been executed in Iran.

Iran is estimated to be second only to China in terms of the number of people it executes but there is good news: Amnesty International believes that Iran is the only country that still executes child offenders. Even China isn't guilty of that dubious honour - as far as we know. Yes, Iran is # 2 but with a bullet, steadily climbing the charts of infamy.

In Iran - the country which declared the human rights group headed by Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi "illegal" - one can be executed for a variety of offences (including anything vaguely sexual) by hanging, firing squad or stoning. Hangings are commonly carried out with a crane, a slow and painful death as the condemned is hoisted (not dropped from a height) so that his or her neck does not break, or a low platform (again ensuring an agonisingly slow death); executions can be conducted both behind prison walls (sometimes in secret) or in public squares - depending on what message needs to be sent to the offenders' communities.

Click click .... ahhhh, here we go. Two men were hanged yesterday because they were drug smugglers (which translates directly from the Persian for "political dissidents"), last week the State Security Forces were sent into several districts of Tehran "to crack down on social dissent" (and there was another hanging), while the week before saw 2 additional hangings. During this period, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad invoked the judiciary to clamp down on local media which, according to his government, has been "spreading lies". Five weeks ago, Issa Motamedi Mojdehi, an Iranian from Rasht, was hauled off to jail and is now facing prison or execution for converting from Islam to Christianity. Mr. Mojdehi has been officially charged with illegal drug trafficking. My there is a plethora of evil drug dealing in Iran.

An officer identified only as Mr. Baghani warned him that it might take “several executions” before Iranians understand the consequences of apostasy under Islamic law.

Iran's most notorious execution (which officials are still scrambling to cover up) is that of Atefeh Rajabi who was hanged in 2004 for "crimes against chastity". Not only was she 16-years old but she was mentally ill and a serial rape victim herself. Officials apparently had few moral qualms in doctoring her birth certificate to show that she was a 22-year old woman. As a co-signatory of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which stipulates that children, i.e., those under 18, cannot be executed, this administrative prestidigitation was a bit of a no-no. Luckily for Iran, the clerical courts are not answerable to parliament. The judge in her case (who was also the head of the local judiciary) told her that "she would hang for her 'sharp tongue' and that he would put the noose around her neck himself", which he obligingly did. Her immediate family was not advised of her date of execution; her father was at work that morning. The BBC has produced a documentary about Atefeh which can be viewed (in 6 short-ish segments) here.

In January, a 17-year old girl by the name of Nazanin was sentenced to hang for defending herself and her niece against 3 rapists - she fatally stabbed one of her assailants. The following month, a 15-year old boy was sentenced to hang for stabbing a friend to death after a scuffle. The boy was originally sentenced by the Supreme Court to serve 5 years in prison and pay blood-money to the victim's family but, not to be outdone, an appellate court generously raised his sentence to death. In fact, a judge at Tehran’s Appellate Court announced that the Islamic Republic would continue to issue death verdicts for juvenile delinquents “without considering other available options” - this shortly after courts issued execution sentences to 15 & 16 year old children. Apparently incarceration in a juvenile facility isn't an available option. Perhaps it should be.

This past November, two young men in their 20's (identified as Mokhtar N. and Ali) were publically executed for committing lavaat or sodomy and their deaths sparked an outcry of rage around the (enlightened) world. A few months beforehand, Mahmoud Asgari (age 16) and Ayaz Marhoni (age 18) were hanged for an as yet undetermined sexual offence but which critics strongly believe was homosexuality. The "crime" of homosexuality is often thinly disguised as "rape" - Iranian officials appear torn between punishing this sexual "aberration" on face value (de facto admitting its existence among God-fearing Muslims) or - more commonly - tinkering with the charge and saving religious face & "preserving the honour" of the families involved. Rape is the usual substitute which explains the large number of "rapists" executed in Iran - here it is less dishonourable for your son to be hanged for raping a woman than for loving a man. Most of these individuals, living in the mother of all sexually-repressed environments, were likely hanged for homosexual acts. Having said that, Iran's penal laws are eye-raisingly specific when it comes to homosexual acts and it would appear that a great deal of thought went into their formulation:

Sodomy is a crime, for which both partners are punished. The punishment is death if the participants are adults, of sound mind and consenting; the method of execution is for the Shari'a judge to decide. A non-adult who engages in consensual sodomy is subject to a punishment of 74 lashes (Articles 108 -113)

"Tafhiz" (the rubbing of the thighs or buttocks) and the like committed by two men is punished by 100 lashes. On the fourth occasion, the punishment is death. (Articles 121 and 122).

If two men "stand naked under one cover without any necessity", both are punished with up to 99 lashes; if a man "kisses another with lust" the punishment is 60 lashes. (Articles 123 and 124).

If you think that getting off with a lashing is much of a blessing, look here. But I digress. On the subject of rape, it should come as no surprise that it's rather difficult to successfully convict a "real" rapist.

In Iran, if a woman is raped, she is considered an adulteress and faces death by stoning. But if a woman fights off a sexual predator and kills him, she can then be tried for murder and face death by hanging. If a man is proven to have raped a woman, his punishment is execution by hanging. But in almost all cases, the man is set free because judges traditionally look for signs in the behavior and clothing of the woman in order to explain away the act of rape. A Persian-language proverb goes like this: "It is the tree that hosts the worm," meaning rape is caused by women and their suggestive behavior.

Should I continue? - I don't think so. Really, it's just more of the same. *Sigh* Maybe it's time that I cull my bookmarks, retaining only the feel-good ones, and confine my attentions to the wonderful world of Brad & Angelina. Perhaps I'll spend more time on my brother's blog. He is exponentially less capable of pissing me off than the Republic of Iran (although I was of a decidedly different opinion when we were kids ). Hopefully he'll see that as the compliment it was meant to be.


Blogger knarf said...



9:09 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Republic of Iran: 1
Knarf: 1

9:44 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

I don't get it.

Your answer was ~supposed~ to be:



9:53 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

But all joking and inter-sibling teasing aside, thanks for an informative blog today. I knew that Iran executed many, but I had no idea how pervasive and all-encompassing it was.


9:55 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

My response was to suggest that you're on par with Iran now.

10:05 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...


That was a bit harsh, don't you think?

I mean, I was teasing you, they brutally murder their civilians. I'm not sure those two things are morally equivalent.

12:44 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...


1:16 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

Are you teasing me?

okay then:

Iran 1

Cat in Rabat 1

Howzat feel, eh? Not so good, eh?


2:51 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I feel shame.

6:00 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

I didn't mean to make you feel shame. Maybe just a bit guilty...


7:42 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

I feel guilt

9:24 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

You shouldn't. I was mean to even suggest it.

Living in Rabat has got to be your purgatory. I'm sure it's wiped every minor transgression off your record.

You should live a guilt-free existence from now on...

9:29 p.m.  
Blogger ByronB said...

Well, I'm with the Iranians on this one, if you can include inanimate objects. I've just executed my office chair for rubbing my buttocks.

6:38 p.m.  

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