Sunday, 7 February 2010

Shirin Ebadi: "Arash's crime was being a member of a monarchist group"

Shirin Ebadi, 62, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her long career as a human rights lawyer in Iran. She spoke to The Sunday Telegraph during a stay in London. She answered Angus McDowall's questions concerning the execution of Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani (37) and Arash Rahmanipour (19) on 28th January 2010 (as reported here).

The Sunday Telegraph: Did the protesters who were sentenced to death in Iran receive fair trials?

Shirin Ebadi: The recent executions in Iran were not justified and I'm totally against it.

One of those executed was
Arash, who was only 19 years old. In court he said he had taken part in the demonstrations after the elections. And he mentioned that he was part of a royalist group. The lawyer of Arash is a member of one of the legal non-governmental organisations in Iran. His lawyer has said several times that Arash was arrested two months before the election.

His interrogators promised that if he agreed to everything in court, he would be freed. In fact he wrongly confessed to taking part in the demonstrations, but it wasn't true.

On his trial day his solicitor wasn't allowed to appear in court. Another lawyer was then chosen by the court instead. They even threatened his solicitor outside the court, saying that if he tried to take part in the trial he would be arrested. Then they issued a death sentence to the young man.

In the appeal court, the lawyer only got permission to visit
Arash for 15 minutes. It was at that meeting that Arash told the lawyer why he confessed. Considering that the date of his arrest was two months prior to the elections, his lawyer objected formally to the death penalty. But unfortunately the appeal court did not accept her objections and quickly issued a death penalty.

Without any legal procedures or informing the family, the young man was executed.

In fact, his real crime was being a member of a monarchist group - he did not take part in the demonstrations.

But the government wants to create an atmosphere of fear, to stop people taking part in any more demonstrations. I'm so sad and sorry that they issued the death penalty. I also think the same about the others. Their only crime is that they said they did not accept the election.

The Sunday Telegraph: Are you in any danger from the regime?

Shirin Ebadi: I've never been contacted by the regime directly. But they contacted my family and friends and said 'wherever she is, we can get rid of her'.

I don't take the threat seriously. If people want to do something they don't talk about it beforehand. Their main aim is to scare me off doing my work properly.

Obviously, I don't want to make my enemies happy, so I continue with my work inside the law.

They threatened my husband and my sister that if I continue with my work they will arrest both of them. My sister was detained for three weeks. They were not tortured physically, but to arrest people because of something someone else has done is a form of emotional torture.

1 comment:

BillyD said...

To my shame, during my first year of college I participated in an anti-shah march here in the States. Two Iranian exchange students living in our housing co-op assured us he was a dictator, that the revolution was all about freedom and human rights, and I believed them.