Iran’s Hanging of 2 Teens Draws Condemnation
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,”
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
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
In 2003, a 16-year-old girl said to be suffering from a
psychological disorder was executed on charges of having an illegal sexual
About a dozen minors were executed in Iran last year,
according to human-rights activists.
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