Iran ‘Must Stop Youth Executions’
News, July 28, 2005
By Steven Eke
A US-based human rights organisation has called on Iran
to end the execution of juvenile offenders. Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Iran
was in breach of international agreements it had signed up to.
The call follows last week’s public hanging of two
youths convicted of still unclear sexual offences.
Iran insists the youths were convicted of raping a
younger boy. However gay rights organisations say the youths were executed for
The case has had considerable global resonance.
Leading European and US gay organisations and
publications have already launched letter-writing protest campaigns, and plan
to hold demonstrations outside Iranian embassies over the coming weeks.
In a statement issued on Thursday, HRW said Iran was one
of only five countries to continue executing juveniles and called for an end
to what it called an inhumane punishment.
The Iranian judiciary has reacted angrily to the
international outrage surrounding the public hanging of Mahmoud Asgari and
Ayaz Marhoni, whom rights activists claim were aged 16 and 18.
Officials said they had been sentenced to whipping and
hanging for rape, drinking alcohol and disturbing public order, and deserved
the punishment they got.
Rare, close-up pictures of the execution were rapidly
published on the internet. In them, officials can be seen placing nooses
around the necks of the two obviously distressed, young men.
Public executions are not unusual in Iran but the
execution of juveniles often attracts international opprobrium.
The case has been adopted as a cause celebre by gay
They say the majority of media reports suggest the
official charges were fabricated to reduce any public sympathy for the youths
and that the real reason was the youths’ sexual orientation.
Homosexuality is illegal in almost all Muslim countries,
and punishable by death in many of them.
But gay and human rights groups say Iran’s record is
particularly shocking, having executed possibly thousands of gay men since the
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