“Goodbye, dear Mum. All of my pains will finish early tomorrow morning. I’m sorry I cannot lessen your pain. Be patient. We believe in life after death. I’ll see you in the next world and I will never leave you again because being separated from you is the most difficult thing to do in the world.”
IRAN – Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26 years old, was arrested and sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of Morteza Abdolali Sarbandi, a former employee of Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence who she said tried to sexually abuse her during a visit in his office. She had always assured that the killing of Sarbandi was an act of self-defense with no premeditation.
Jabbari stayed seven long years in the death row waiting for her last day.
That day arrived on October the 25th. Jabbari was taken from her cell, handcuffed and was hanged in courtyard of Rajai Shahr Prison (near Tehran).
The sentence was carried out despite the international mobilization of various Nations and several NGOs. Not even the appeal of Iranian prominent figures and a global petition were able to save her from a cruel death. An Iranian petition to save Reyhaneh Jabbari from execution has been hacked twice, presumably by the agents of the Iranian government.
Amnesty International (on the first line against the sentence) defined the investigation as “deeply flawed” and said that the trial did not take into consideration all the evidences. The NGO added that Jabbari confessed only after being subjected to pressure and inhuman torture. She was also forced to spend two months in solitary confinement where she did not have access to a lawyer or her family.
Amnesty added that Iran’s judicial authorities were reported to have pressured Jabbari to replace her lawyer, for a more inexperienced one, in an apparent attempt to prevent an investigation of her claims.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Middle East and North Africa Deputy Director at Amnesty International, said: “This abhorrent execution had not to be allowed to take place, particularly when there are serious doubts about the circumstances of the killing. Instead of continuing to execute people, authorities in Iran should reform their judicial system, which dangerously relies on processes which fail to meet international law and standards for fair trial.”.
Jabbari’s death penalty sentence was not the first and it will not be the last to take place in Iran.
It is broadly known that the Iran Judicial system is a mixture of Sharia, Misogyny, corruption and use of torture. It is often used as the “legal way” for the Iranian Government to eliminate its opponents and as a mean of repression and terror against its own population.
Under Iran’s system of Sharia law, the convict could be spared if the victim’s family agrees to forgive him, or to accept a compensation of “blood money.” Both of those efforts were rejected for Jabbari.
Moreover, under Iranian law, Jabbari should have been in the clear for killing Sarbandi before being sentenced to death. The Iranian death penalty does not apply in a murder case if the murder is in accomplishment to another crime punishable by death (rape is one of these). Jabbari always assured that she killed Sarbandi after he attempted to rape her. However, the judges have a large discretion in interpreting the facts of the case, so that in this case Jabbari was found guilty.
In the conclusion of this article I would like to share two personal thoughts:
First, with the election of the President Rohani in May 2013, Iran seemed to be more open to a democratic change. However Jabbari’s sentence showed us that there is a huge gap between what “it seems” and what “it is”. Sadly, it will take time before Iran moves its first steps toward democracy.
(While I am writing this article, Ghoncheh Ghavami, an Iranian woman, is sentenced to one years of prison for trying to see a male volleyball game).
Second, I am not against Iran or its people; I am against every reality that dehumanizes a human being. It could be violence, it could be torture, or it could be a death sentence.
Keith Mak was born in Macau and spent most of his childhood in Hong Kong. Moved to England when 14, he is currently an Economics exchange student at Bocconi from University of Glasgow, Scotland. In this article he tells about the situation at the moment in Hong Kong.
If you have been following the news on BBC or CNN starting from last week, the biggest headlines you would probably see were all about the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. If you would like to know what is really happening in Hong Kong right now, you should probably start with the history of Hong Kong.
Starting from the point that Britain obtained a 99-year lease of Hong Kong from China in 1898 as China lost the Opium War, Hong Kong became a colony of Britain. When that lease officially ended in 1997, UK gave Hong Kong back to China, but also claiming that Hong Kong has ‘a high degree of autonomy’ for 50 years from that onwards which is based on the constitutional principle called ‘One Country, Two Systems’ proposed by the Paramount Leader of China at the time before Hong Kong has been given back to China.
Based on that ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle, there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau (A colony of Portugal until 1999) could retain their own CAPITALIST economic and POLITICAL SYSTEM, while the rest of China uses the socialist system, which is an ideology of the Communist Party of China based upon scientific socialism. Under the principle, each of the two regions could continue to have its own POLITICAL SYSTEM, legal, economic and financial affairs, including external relations with foreign countries.
In June 2014, pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong held an unofficial referendum on political reform. But in August 2014, China claimed that it would ONLY allow direct elections in Hong Kong in 2017 if the candidates of the chief executive of Hong Kong HAVE ALL BEEN APPROVED by the Chinese Central government. So for the Hong Kong citizens, every single candidate of the Hong Kong Chief Executive election that is going to hold in 2017, who is either candidate A, B, C, D or E, would ALL be chosen by the Chinese Central Government and then the Hong Kong citizens could only pick their own Chief Executive out of all the choices made by the Chinese Central government. So for the Hong Kong citizens, it has been seen as ‘a totally FAKE DEMOCRATIC ELECTION’ under the Chinese Communist Party and it absolutely opposes the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle set before Hong Kong has been given back to China.
A lot of the Hong Kong citizens just think that this is just what the Chinese Communist government wants to do in order to turn Hong Kong into another communist city right before the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle ends in 2047 so they can take full control of Hong Kong. And the protesters are afraid that if the Chinese government can really do it successfully, the human freedom and political freedom of the Hong Kong citizens would be largely restricted by that time. Therefore starting from 22/09, student groups in Hong Kong launched a week-long boycott of classes and from 28/09 onwards, Occupy Central and student protests join forces and take over central Hong Kong. Most of the international businesses going on in Central Hong Kong have been stopped because of the fact that almost all the Central regions have been blocked due to the protests and because of that Hong Kong is suffering from a huge financial loss.
In general, a lot of the Hong Kong citizens are always worried about if democracy can still exist after Hong Kong has been given back to China. Because of the unclear future of Hong Kong after 1997, so during the 90s, right before Hong Kong has been officially given back to China, tens of thousands of well-educated and middle-class Hong Kong citizens just migrated to different English speaking countries in the world. Most of them chose to migrate to Vancouver, San Francisco, Sydney, London and Auckland. And the history is repeating itself in the recent years, there is currently another wave of mass migrations in Hong Kong and a lot of Hong Kong citizens chose to migrate to Taiwan as Hong Kong and Taiwan share the similar culture and language and the cost of living is so much lower but the quality of life is so much higher in Taiwan compared to Hong Kong nowadays.