Last edited: July 30, 2005

Iran’s Hanging of 2 Teens Draws Condemnation

Seattle Times, July 24, 2005

By Ali Akbar Dareini
The Associated Press

TEHRAN, IRAN—Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi yesterday condemned the hanging of two teenagers accused of raping younger boys in northeastern Iran, a punishment that also prompted protests by the international community and rights groups.

Last week’s hangings of an 18-year-old and 16-year-old on charges of involvement in homosexual acts violated Iran’s obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which bans such executions, Ebadi said.

Ebadi said her Center for the Protection of Human Rights will intensify its fight against Iran’s executions of minors.

“My calls for a law clearly banning execution of under-18s have fallen on deaf ears so far but I will not give up the fight,” Ebadi said.

Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, were hanged publicly July 19 in the city of Mashhad. They said they were not aware homosexual acts were punishable by death.

Asgari had been accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. His lawyer, Rohollah Razaz Zadeh, said Iranian courts are supposed to commute death sentences handed to children to five years in jail.

“The judiciary has trampled its own laws,” Razaz Zadeh said.

He said Iran’s Supreme Court allowed the execution despite his objections.

Iranian opposition groups and gay-rights organizations such as the London-based Outrage! suggested the rape allegations were trumped up to undermine public sympathy for the teenagers.

In Sweden, Foreign Ministry spokesman Per Saland said the government was “looking very seriously” at the hangings.

“We are against the death penalty and we particularly react when it comes to the execution of minors, pregnant women and the mentally disabled,” Saland said.

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Rights posted a photo on its Web site showing hooded executioners tightening ropes around the suspects’ necks. The group’s chairman, Soren Andersson, called on Sweden’s government not to deport gay and lesbian asylum seekers back to Iran.

Ebadi, who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, has campaigned to protect children and improve human rights in Iran but has met stiff resistance from the judiciary.

The Iranian government last year refused to give Ebadi permission to stage a rally to protest children’s executions.

Under Iranian law, girls older than 9 and boys older than 15 face execution if they commit crimes such as murder and rape. Under certain conditions, capital punishment is imposed for those engaging in illegal sexual relations.

In 2003, a 16-year-old girl said to be suffering from a psychological disorder was executed on charges of having an illegal sexual relationship.

About a dozen minors were executed in Iran last year, according to human-rights activists.

[Home] [Iran] [World]