[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Mar 6 15:43:36 CST 2006
Women, Rape and the Death Penalty in Iran
On January 6, 2006, the Republic of Iran sentenced a young woman to death
for the so-called crime of defending herself against 3 male attackers. The
case, that of 18-year-old Nazanin, presents the United States with an
opportunity to take a stand for basic equality and womens rights.
In March 2005, Nazanin, who was 17 at the time, and her niece were
attacked by 3 men while walking in a park in Tehran, the capital of Iran.
When the men began throwing stones at them, the girls were abandoned by
their boyfriends, who left them alone to defend themselves from the
brutality. Out of fear and panic, the girls did the only thing they knew
to do - try to run away. Yet despite their desperate attempts to escape
the grasps of the 3 ill-minded men, the young girls were caught, thrown to
the ground and forced upon by the strangers attempting to rape them.
Acting on instinct, Nazanin tried to protect herself and her niece.
Drawing a knife she kept hidden beneath her clothing to guard against this
type of attack, Nazanin stabbed one of the men in the chest as he was
forcing himself upon her. Although Nazanin persists that she merely
intended to use the knife to force the man off her, the stabbing resulted
in the rapists death. Nazanin was subsequently arrested, charged and
convicted for the death of the rapist and is sentenced to die by hanging.
Nazanin's plight is not uncommon in Iran, which has been criticized for
its treatment of women and its use of capital punishment in a country
where more women are reportedly executed per year than in any other
country. Since 1979, when the Ayatollah Khomeini assumed power, Iran's
penal system has been marked by so-called "Revolutionary Law," which is
derived from Islamic and Sharia law. It is particularly brutal in its
treatment of women, especially those who are found guilty of breaking the
law and condemned to die for their purported crimes. And according to an
Iranian doctor who has witnessed many state executions of women, women and
girls are commonly raped by guards prior to their execution. Ostensibly,
this practice ensures that the woman is not a virgin when she dies, thus
preventing her from entering paradise.
Death sentences imposed on women in Iran are typically carried out by
hanging or stoning. When a sentence calls for death by stoning, the woman
is buried up to the shoulders, covered over the head and beaten to death
with stones of a size dictated by Iranian law. Death by hanging typically
involves either the use of a hydraulic crane or a low platform to ensure a
slower, more painful death. A strong thin rope or steel cable in the form
of a noose is placed around the neck to crush the larynx, inflicting as
much pain as possible and prolonging the moment of death.
Such a brutal death is what awaits Nazanin unless the United States, the
United Nations and other international agencies exercise their moral
leadership and demand that the Iranian government grant her clemency.
Indeed, the United States should lead the way in raising an outcry over
Iran's inhumane treatment of Nazanin. In fact, America has long been a
champion of human rights in word, if not always in deed. And although
Americas reputation as a defender of human rights has been tarnished by
allegations of prisoner abuse at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, Nazanin's
plight presents the Bush Administration with an opportunity to stand by
its much-avowed commitment to human rights. This is one important reason
why at least limited diplomatic ties with despotic regimes should be
maintained by the U.S. Otherwise, it renders the U.S. helpless to do
anything in this kind of situation.
Just as international pressure succeeded in granting Sufiyatu Huseini
clemency from an unjust death sentence, so the international community -
led by the U.S. - must take on the burden of advocating Nazanin's cause.
Huseini was charged by Nigerian officials with the crime of adultery after
having been raped and was sentenced to death by stoning. However, as a
result of international pressure and several months of negotiations, she
was granted clemency.
As a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran must be
challenged to stand by its commitments to respect the fundamental human
rights of women and to treat all persons deprived of their liberty "with
humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person."
First Lady Laura Bush has been vocal in speaking out against the severe
repression and brutality of women in Afghanistan. She is to be commended
for admonishing our nation to take a stand. As Mrs. Bush stated,
"Civilized people throughout the world are speaking out in horror - not
only because our hearts break for the women and children in Afghanistan,
but also because in Afghanistan we see the world the terrorists would like
to impose on the rest of us. All of us have an obligation to speak out. We
may come from different backgrounds and faiths - but parents the world
over love our children. We respect our mothers, our sisters and daughters.
Fighting brutality against women and children is not the expression of a
specific culture; it is the acceptance of our common humanity - a
commitment shared by people of good will on every continent."
However, it's time to move past the rhetoric. Indeed, if people like Laura
Bush are really sincere about what they're saying about women's rights
around the world, then it is incumbent on them to act and to persuade her
husband the president, a world leader, to act affirmatively in this
What this means is that in order to truly end the horror being enacted
against women in Iran, particularly on young Nazanin, it is incumbent upon
the U.S. to act now. To remain silent about this horrific incident amounts
to turning a blind eye and it is a travesty of justice that renders
meaningless anything the United States has to say about women's rights.
(source: John Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute)
URGENT ACTION APPEAL
06 March 2006
Death sentence/fear of imminent execution
Adil Muhammad Saif al-Ma'amari (m), aged 21
Adil Muhammad Saif al-Ma'amari is in imminent danger of
execution for a murder committed when he was 16 years old.
The Yemeni Penal Code expressly prohibits the use of the
death penalty for crimes committed before the age of 18.
The sentence has now been passed to President Ali Abdullah
Saleh for ratification; he has the power to commute the
sentence to a more humane alternative.
Adil Saif al-Ma'amari was arrested on 27 July 2001, and in
the police station he confessed, allegedly under torture,
to murdering a male relative during an argument. He was
tried at a lower Court in the town of al Rawna, near
Yemen's second city, Taiz. At the start of the trial he
protested that he was under 18. On the orders of a judge he
was examined by a doctor, who reported on 10 October 2001
that he had not yet passed his 17th birthday. Article 31 of
the Penal Code says that "any accused under 18 should not
be sentenced to death under any charge," but the court
ignored this and sentenced him to death on 19 October 2002.
He had no legal assistance during the trial.
Yemen ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
which expressly prohibits the execution of juvenile
offenders, in 1991.
Adil Saif al-Ma'amari's appeals were rejected by the Court
of Appeal in Taiz on 23 May 2005, and then by the Supreme
Court on 27 February 2006.
His twin younger brothers, who were 15 at the time, were
arrested with him but released without charge two months
At least two people have been executed in Yemen so far this
year. Amnesty International has longstanding concerns about
the use of the death penalty in Yemen, particularly as
death sentences are often passed after proceedings which
fall short of international standards for fair trial. Many
people have been sentenced to death in spite of concrete
evidence that they were under 18 at the time of the crimes
of which they were convicted.
While Amnesty International recognizes the right and
responsibility of governments to bring to justice those
suspected of recognizably criminal offences, it is
unconditionally opposed to the death penalty in all cases
as the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and
violation of the right to life.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as
quickly as possible:
- urging the President of Yemen to commute Adil Muhammad
Saif al-Ma'amari's death sentence;
- pointing out that the execution of juvenile offenders is
expressly prohibited by Article 31 of Yemen's Penal Code,
and by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
Yemen ratified in 1991;
- calling on the authorities to investigate allegations
that Adil Muhammad Saif al-Ma'amari was tortured by police
to force him to confess;
- acknowledging the right of the government to bring to
justice those responsible for criminal offences, but
expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty.
His Excellency General Ali Abdullah Saleh
President of the Republic of Yemen
Republic of Yemen
Faxes: 011 967 127 4147
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Interior:
His Excellency Dr Rashid Muhammad al-Alimi
Ministry of Interior
Republic of Yemen
Faxes: 011 967 1 332 511
Salutation: Your Excellency
Minister of Human Rights:
Her Excellency Kadijah al-Haysami
Ministry for Human Rights
Sana'a, Republic of Yemen
Faxes: 011 967 1 444 838
Salutation: Your Excellency
Ambassador Abdulwahab A. Al-Hajjri
Embassy of the Republic of Yemen
2319 Wyoming Ave NW
Washington DC 20008
Ph: 1 202 965 4760
Fax: 1 202 337 2017
Email: ambassador at yemenembassy.org
Please send appeals immediately. Check with the Colorado
office between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, Mountain Time, weekdays
only, if sending appeals after 17 April 2006.
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Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement
promotes and defends human rights.
This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact,
contact information and stop action date (if applicable).
you for your help with this appeal.
Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
PO Box 1270
Nederland CO 80466-1270
Email: uan at aiusa.org
Phone: 303 258 1170
Fax: 303 258 7881
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL
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