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Can anybody stop the accelaration of executions?

Rouhi Shafii

Two women in different parts of Iran and two juveniles are in danger of imminent execution.

Today, I will report the case of one of the women, Soheila Ghadiri who is due for execution on Wednesday 21 on Orumieh in north-west of Iran. Soheila's lawyer, MS Mina DJafari wrote a note on a group email informing us of the sad news. She said frankly she has run out of options and her nerves are in tatters thinking that she, as Soheila's lawyer has to be present at the scene of this dirty (her word) act. She urged us who live abroad to call on the human rights groups and the international community to stop Soheila's execution. I wonder of and how we can answer her pleas and do something, anything to save Soheila? Probably not. All we did since yesterday was sending Mina, emails of sympathy and in our hearts thanked god (if there is any) that we are not Mina.

No one knows Soheila's real name or address or who her parents were. She ran away at the age of 16 to avoid an arranged marriage. She never talks about the whereabouts of her parents and how she survided for the first few months. All we know is that she was finally forced into prostitution and repeated rape until a man took her into his care and she became his domestic worker although the neighbours believed they were a couple. Finally, the man decided to marry her but Soheila had burnt her identity booklet and the official marriage was not possible. When Soheila was seven months pregnant she left the man because of his addication and took refuge in one of the govenment organisations which is responsible to provide shelter and support for women like her. Soheila was assigned to hard work and under constant barrage of insults by the staff who called her a whore. Finally, she gave birth to her child but 5 days later, she kills her baby by a table knife. She claims that in the Centre they didn't feed her baby and they wanted to send him to France for adoption and she was afraid the baby might have contracted AIDS and she didn't want him end up like her. And more than that she wanted to see what was inside a human which make it a human!

Any psychologist or doctor or anybody who works in the medical profession would understand that this young, damaged woman was suffering from post natal depressioin. In her case this was never accepted by the court nor verified by doctors or the staff at the institution which had her at the time of the crime. They all reported that Soheila was in good health and there was no reason for insanity. Soheila's lawyer persuaded her to disclose the child's father's indentity and after a while she gives his address. The man was very sympathetic and said that he has been looking for Soheila and forgives her for the crime since he knows the reasons.

According to the law of Ghesas (retribution) if the main party in the case forgives the accused, the Ghesas or execution will be lifted. In this case the court has not accepted the man's plea to forgiveness and has not considered the insanity case as well despite the fact that every one in prison verifies that Soheila does not act normal.

Two weeks ago, in a case of juvenile execution, Behnood Shojaie's lawyer and human rights activists vere trying frantically to obtain Ehsan's (the victim) parents' forgivenss in which case he would be saved hanging. They refused and Ehasan's parents executed Behnood. Now, the child's father is giving his consent and is forgiving Soheila who according to same law has to be spared the execution but the court refuses and has ordered the execution to be carried out on wednesday this week.

Soheila is a damaged woman. The victim of a brutal and violent society which does not give young women the opportunity to refuse unwanted marriages. This young girl who has been brutally abused by the society and the very institution that was meant to protect her is now penalised for a crime she committed while being depressed after birth and in deep paranoia. We as a society are responsible for creating Soheila and many other Soheilas. We need to get together and stop the killing spree that is plaguing the Iranian society by a government that creates, inhibits, institutionalises and legitimised violence. We need to do something. 







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