Iran: New Amnesty web appeal for young woman artist facing execution

Amnesty International UK today (Sunday 15 March) launched a new UK web appeal on behalf of a 20-year-old woman artist facing execution in Iran. The organisation is asking people to go to www.amnesty.org.uk/deathpenalty and write to the Iranian authorities, imploring them to stop the execution of Delara Darabi, who was only 17 at the time of her alleged offence.

Her case is also being championed by former Miss World Canada, Nazanin Afshin Jam, who was born in Iran but has lived in Canada since 1981.

Much of Delara’s artwork was painted while she was in prison, awaiting execution. Examples of her work and pictures of Delara can be seen at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/infinit_pictures/sets/72157594338433737/ /p>

Delara Darabi and a 19-year-old man named Amir Hossein reportedly broke into a woman’s house in 2003. Amir Hossein allegedly killed the woman but Delara initially confessed to the murder, subsequently retracting her confession. Delara says that Amir Hossein asked her to admit responsibility for the murder to protect him from execution, believing that as she was under the age of 18, she could not be sentenced to death.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“Amnesty members around the world are doing all they can to stop the Iranian authorities extinguishing the hope and potential of this young woman. Over five thousand letters have been sent just from the UK.

“This appeal can make a real difference – the Iranian authorities have previously stopped executions after international outcry. We think Delara’s life could be saved if we keep up the pressure on the authorities.

“The death penalty is wrong in all cases, but it’s truly beyond the pale when it comes to child offenders. Delara was only 17 when this crime took place”

At least 28 child offenders remain on death row in Iran and the country is known to have executed four child offenders last year. Majid Segound was 17 when he was hanged in public last May, after he killed his friend in a fight; another child offender called Sattar was executed in September; "Mortaza M" was executed in November in Meybad, Yazd province, for a murder committed two years before when he may have been only 16; and Nasser Batmani, an Iranian Kurd aged 20, was hanged in late December 2006 after five years in Sanandaj prison, for killing someone in a fight when he was about 15.

Iran executes more known child offenders than any other country. Since 1990 Amnesty International has documented 51 executions of child offenders in eight countries: China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the USA and Yemen. Several of these countries have changed their laws to exclude the practice including USA. In 2006, Iran and Pakistan were the only countries in the world to continue to execute child offenders, despite Pakistan enacting the Juvenile Justice System Law in 2000, which abolished the death penalty for people under the age of 18 at the time of the crime in most parts of the country.

Kate Allen said:

“More and more countries are turning their backs on the execution of child offenders and Iran is looking increasingly isolated on this issue.

“The Iranian authorities should commute Delara’s sentence and stop any further executions of child offenders. Ultimately we hope they will outlaw the death penalty altogether.”

  • Find out more about our work against the Death Penalty /li>

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